Premodern Transgressive Literatures

Series introduction

Leiden, University Library, 583, printed work (16th century) with medieval fragments inside (12th century). Photo by Erik Kwakkel. (CC BY 4.0)

Leiden, University Library, 583, printed work (16th century) with medieval fragments inside (12th century). Photo by Erik Kwakkel. (CC BY 4.0)

Premodern Transgressive Literatures takes a decisively political, intersectional, and interdisciplinary approach to medieval and early modern literature. The series supports scholarship which transgresses normative bounds along various axes. This includes the transgression of temporal boundaries which superficially separate the premodern era from our twenty-first century moment.

We aim to show, with insistent urgency, the ways in which the premodern can help us make sense of the modern, and the ways in which cutting-edge modern paradigms can help us better understand established, canonical premodern texts.

This series is acutely aware of the role of the scholar in the production of history and the crucial importance of the context of scholarly work: the Academy, with its unique characteristics, both positive and negative. As such, Premodern Transgressive Literatures makes space for provocative discussion about the business of producing—and teaching—transgressive work in the neo-liberalized Academy.

Medieval Institute Publications welcomes monographs from established and early career researchers, collections of thematic essays, scholarly editions and translations with substantial introductions and apparatus.

principle strands

Transgressive Literatures welcomes projects in its three principle strands: Transgressive Canon, Transgressive Texts and Approaches, and Transgressive Academy.

Transgressive Canon: Rethinking canonical, establishment authors and, where relevant, problematizing past approaches and assumptions. Projects in this strand deconstruct the canon from an “insider” position, one founded upon close attention to canonical texts and their authors. Volumes in this strand work to show both the richness of the material at hand, whilst also allowing for nontraditional and overlooked approaches with which to reconsider and reorient the canon itself.

We seek editors for the following volumes:

  • Transgressive Chaucer
  • Transgressive Gower
  • Transgressive Langland
  • Transgressive Arthur
  • Transgressive Tristan
  • Transgressive Marie de France
  • Transgressive Christine de Pizan
  • Transgressive Margery Kempe
  • Transgressive Readers
  • Transgressive Piety

NB. Transgressive Canon volumes require an overall Introduction (typically produced by the volume editor) summarizing, if briefly, the ways in which a given author, text, or key concept has been understood in scholarship historically. Volumes on a single canonical author adhere to a common skeletal structure, organized with 5 core sections as follows:

  • Author
  • Key Texts
  • Reader Reception
  • Manuscripts and Material Culture
  • Pedagogy (i.e., approaches to teach a given text or author). 

Transgressive Texts and Approaches: Studies of subversive, understudied, and weird medieval texts are solicited here, drawing sustained attention to material which has otherwise been neglected, dismissed, or misunderstood. In parallel, this strand highlights innovations in methodological and theoretical approaches to premodern material, drawing out why such interventions are important and what they have to offer to today’s readers.

Transgressive Academy: Extended discussions of transgressive and progressive pedagogy and scholarship in the Academy, including—e.g., teaching practices to combat white supremacy, talking about sexual assault in the classroom, and innovative methods to inspire a new generation of scholars. We also embrace projects which speak openly about what it means to transgress the normative blueprint of a “typical academic”—i.e., those of us who do not look much like the “default” of a cis-het able-bodied white older man, and how that impacts our careers, our pedagogy, and our scholarship.

Keywordsintersectionality, interdisciplinary, literature, culture, medieval, early modern, pedagogy

Geographical scope: Global, including but not limited to Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia

Chronological scope: Medieval and early modern world


Shannon CunninghamProposals or completed manuscripts to be considered for publication by Medieval Institute Publications should be sent to Shannon Cunningham, acquisitions editor for the series.

Board members comprise:

  • Alicia Spencer-Hall, Queen Mary, University of London, UK, Series Editor
  • Blake Gutt, University of Michigan, USA
  • Carissa Harris, Temple University, USA
  • Jonathan Hsy, George Washington University, USA
  • Roberta Magnani, Swansea University, UK
  • Elizabeth Robertson, University of Glasgow, UK


Forthcoming in this series

This series is currently under development. Medieval Institute Publications welcomes proposals for this series.