Dr. Krista A. Murchison
Lecturer in Medieval English and French Literature
My research centers around medieval England’s “popular” vernacular literature—those texts that were copied into a relatively large number of manuscripts, including chronicles and religious works. I explore the ways in which these texts developed, the ways in which they were experienced by their audiences, and what such lines of inquiry can tell us about how these texts functioned in medieval society. I am also interested in our own ways of experiencing these texts, including those opened up by digital media.
I have published on Middle English texts, including works by Chaucer, and Anglo-Norman texts, including Le Livere de Rei de Engleterre. In my doctoral dissertation, I explored medieval England’s literary tradition of manuals for penitents—texts such as Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale that address penitents preparing for confession and describe sins and other essentials of the faith. Approaching this tradition from a book history perspective, my dissertation showed that the development of these manuals promoted a widening range of reading practices and a shift toward private confessional education—one that came accompanied by significant tensions.