Kellie Robertson writes about medieval literature and culture; her research and teaching are premised on the idea that a return to this earlier intellectual history can help us to better understand our own modern desires and philosophical commitments.
Her most recent book, Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Philosophy (forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press in March 2017) examines late medieval poetry in the context of its physics, arguing that both domains struggled over how to represent nature in the wake of Aristotelian science. Whether or not nature can speak in an autonomous voice is a problem with which modern environmental politics still struggles, and Robertson’s book argues that there is value in returning to medieval models of how the human was understood in relation to the rest of the nonhuman world.
Her current book project, Yesterday's Weather: Narrative and Premodern Climate Change, looks at how medieval and early modern societies depict the shock of the natural disaster. While the weather is notoriously changeable, human responses to it reveal some surprising consistencies across time, as each era struggles to respond to the durable dilemma of being subject to forces beyond human control. The stories we tell about weather, both then and now, are almost always stories about our own modernity, but it is a modernity experienced as somehow precarious. Looking back at how premoderns wrote about the weather helps us to understand better the stories that we tell ourselves about climate change today.
She is also the author of The Laborer’s Two Bodies: Labor and the ‘Work’ of the Text in Medieval Britain, 1350-1500, a book that explores textual and material responses to the first national labor laws. These laws—designed to mitigate the effects of the unprecedented labor shortages following the appearance of the Black Plague—forced writers of all kinds to ask what constituted “true labor,” a question that became nearly unavoidable once work became the object of emphatic legal regulation. She is the editor (with Michael Uebel) of a collection of essays entitled The Middle Ages at Work: Practicing Labor in Late Medieval England.
Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center.
At the University of Maryland, she currently serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the English Department.
Ph.D. Yale University
B.A. University of Virginia
Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Philosophy. University of Pennsylvannia Press, forthcoming March 2017.
The Laborer’s Two Bodies: Labor and the ‘Work’ of the Text in Medieval Britain, 1350-1500. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Co-editor (with Michael Uebel), The Middle Ages at Work: Practicing Labor in Late Medieval England. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
“The Rebel Kiss: Jack Cade, Shakespeare, and the Chroniclers.” In Renaissance Retrospections: Tudor Visions of the Middle Ages, ed. Sarah Kelen. Studies in Medieval Culture 52 (Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University Press, 2013), 127-140.
“Abusing Aristotle.” In Petropunk Collective., ed. Speculative Medievalisms: Discography (Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books, 2013). 159-172.
“Exemplary Rocks.” In Jeffrey J. Cohen, ed., Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects (Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books, 2012). 93-123.
“Medieval Materialism: A Manifesto.” Exemplaria 22.2 (2010): 99-118.
“Medieval Things: Materiality, Historicity, and the Premodern Object.” Literature Compass 5 (2008): 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2008.00588.x
“Authorial Work.” In 21st Century Approaches to Literature: Middle English, ed. Paul Strohm. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. 441-458.
“Branding and the Technologies of Labor Regulation.” In The Middle Ages at Work, ed. Kellie Robertson and Michael Uebel. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. 133-153.
“Introduction: Conceptualizing Labor in the Middle Ages,” (with Michael Uebel). In The Middle Ages at Work, ed. Kellie Robertson and Michael Uebel. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. 1-15.
“Laboring in the God of Love’s Garden: Chaucer’s Prologue to The Legend of Good Women.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 24 (2002): 115-147.
“Common Profit and Common Language.” In The Post-Colonial Middle Ages. Ed. Jeffrey J. Cohen. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. 209-228.
2014-15 Research and Scholarship Award, University of Maryland
2011-12 Fellow, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle, NC
2011 Vilas Life Cycle Professorship, University of Wisconsin
2011 Institute for Research in the Humanities Fellowship, University of Wisconsin (declined)
2010 University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Fellowship
2008 University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Fellowship
2005 University of Pittsburgh Faculty Research Grant
2000 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend
2000 University of Pittsburgh Faculty Research Grant
1999 John G. Bowman Faculty Grant
1997 John F. Enders Research Grant
1996-97 Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship
2015-6 ARHU Search Committee, English Department Chair
2015-2017 University Senate
2015-2017 Senate Educational Affairs Committee
2015-present ARHU Graduate Fellowships Committee
2014 Conference co-organizer with Gerard Passannante. “Knowing Nature in the Medieval and Early Modern World” Symposium. October 24-25, 2014. Funded primarily by the Graduate School Field Committee on Medieval and Early Modern Studies.