1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Bruce Holsinger


406 Bryan Hall

Office Hours:

T/R 1230-200

Class Schedule:

T/R 1100-1215
T 330-600


Ph.D. Columbia, 1996
M.A. Minnesota, 1992
B.A. and B.Mus.A. Michigan , 1989

Much of my current research is dedicated to two projects at different stages of completion.  I'm currently finishing up a book called Archive of the Animal: Science, Sacrifice, and the Parchment Inheritance, which explores the parchment record of the Western tradition from a number of different angles (environmental history, animal studies, zooarchaeology, theologies of sacrifice, etc.). A longer-term book project, The Work of God: Liturgical Culture and Vernacular Writing in Britain, 550-1550 (under contract with University of Chicago Press), examines the shaping role of liturgical culture in the history of literary writing, from the earliest known vernacular survivals in the sixth century to the coming of common prayer in the sixteenth.   Previous books have treated literary-musical relations, the medievalism of theory, and the neomedievalist rhetoric of the war on terror.  I've also written a historical novel, A Burnable Book, set in London in 1385 and featuring John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer (the book will be published by HarperCollins in the UK and William Morrow in the US early in 2014).


Critical Theory, Medieval


The Invention of Fire, HarperCollins/William Morrow, 2015

(historical novel)

A Burnable Book, HarperCollins/William Morrow, 2014

(historical novel)

Neomedievalism, Neoconservatism, and the War on Terror, Prickly Paradigm Press: Chicago, 2007
The Premodern Condition, University of Chicago Press, 2005
Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture, Stanford University Press, 2001


  • "Object-Oriented Mythography," forthcoming in Minnesota Review (2013)
  • "'Historical Context' in Historical Context: Surface, Depth, and the Making of the Text," New Literary History 42 (2011)
  • "Parchment Ethics: A statement of more than modest concern," New Medieval Literatures 12 (2010)
  • "Medievalization Theory: From Tocqueville to the Cold War," American Literary History 22 (2010)
  • "Of Pigs and Parchment: Medieval Studies and the Coming of the Animal," PMLA 124 (2009)
  • "Empire, Apocalypse, and the 9/11 Premodern," Critical Inquiry 34; reprinted in Andrew Cole and D. Vance Smith, eds., The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages: On the Unwritten History of Theory (Duke UP, 2010).
  • “Liturgy.”  21st-Century Approaches to Literature: Middle English. Ed. Paul Strohm.  Oxford: Oxford University Press (2007).
  • “The Parable of Caedmon’s Hymn: Liturgical Invention and Literary Tradition.”  Journal of English and Germanic Philology 106 (2007).
  • “Lyric Inventions: The Short Poems,” in The Yale Companion to Chaucer, ed. Seth Lerer (2005).
  • “Lollard Ekphrasis: Situated Aesthetics and Literary History,” in Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2004).
  • “Medieval Literature and Cultures of Performance,” in New Medieval Literatures (2003).
  • “Medieval Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and the Genealogies of Critique,” in Speculum (2002).
  • “Vernacular Legality: The English Jurisdictions of The Owl and the Nightingale,” in The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Medieval England, ed. Emily Steiner and Candace Barrington (Cornell, 2002).
  • “Ovidian Homoerotics in Twelfth-Century Paris: The Letters of Leoninus, Poet and Polyphone,” in Gay and Lesbian Quarterly (2002), co-authored with David Townsend.
  • “The Ovidian Verse‑Epistles of Master Leoninus,” in Journal of Medieval Latin (2000), co-authored with David Townsend.
  • “Langland’s Musical Reader: Liturgy, Law, and the Constraints of Performance,” in Studies in the Age of Chaucer (1999).
  • “The Vision of Music in a Lollard Florilegium: Cantus in the Middle English Rosarium Theologie ( Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College MS 354/581),” in Plainsong and Medieval Music (1999).
  • “The Color of Salvation: Desire, Death, and the Second Crusade in Bernard of Clairvaux's Sermons on the Song of Songs,” in The Tongue of the Fathers: Gender and Ideology in Twelfth-Century Latin, ed. David Townsend and Andrew Taylor (Penn, 1998).
  • “Sodomy and Resurrection: The Homoerotic Subject of the Divine Comedy,” in Premodern Sexualities, ed. Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero (Routledge, 1996).

Book Reviews

  • Review of L.O. Aranye Fradenburg, Sacrifice Your Love: Historicism, Psychoanalysis, Chaucer (Minnesota, 2003), Studies in the Age of Chaucer 27 (2005).
  • Review of Patricia Ingham, Sovereign Fantasies: Arthurian Romance and the Making of Britain (Pennsylvania, 2001), MLQ 66 (2005): 119-24.
  • Review of David Matthews, The Invention of Middle English: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Penn State, 2000), Speculum 77 (2002).
  • Review of Barbara Newman, ed., Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World (California, 1998), Journal of Religion 81 (2001): 351-53.
  • Review of J. Stephen Russell, Chaucer and the Trivium: The Mindsong of the Canterbury Tales (Florida, 1999), Studies in the Age of Chaucer 22 (2000): 531-34.


  • John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, 2005
  • MLA Prize for a First Book, 2002
  • Philip Brett Award from the American Musicological Society, 2001
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2004
  • Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2004-2005
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2000-2001
  • Visiting Professor, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA, Nov. 1999
  • Javits Fellowship, 1993-1996