Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Medieval Literature
Competition: US & Canada
Sarah Stanbury is a specialist in the literature of Medieval England and one of the leading lights in her field. Displaying an easy command of literary theory, textual criticism, art history, and an acute awareness of the religious and material culture of medieval times, her publications offer the reader fresh insights into the long-studied works of such notable authors as Chaucer and the Gawain-Poet both as literature and as indicators of the changing cultural milieu.
“Vision” is a recurring theme in Ms. Stanbury’s oeuvre, evident in some of her earliest publications, such as “Cupid’s Sight in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women,” Centerpoint, 4 (1981); “Visions of Space: Acts of Perception in Pearl and in Some Late Medieval Illustrated Apocalypses,” Mediaevalia, 19 (1984–1988); “Ín God’s Sight: Vision and Sacred History in Purity,” in Text and Matter: New Critical Perspectives on the Pearl-Poet, ed. Robert J. Blanch et al. (Whitston, 1991); Seeing the Gawain-Poet: Description and the Act of Perception (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991), which was an expansion of her doctoral dissertation; and extending to her most recent monograph, The Visual Object of Desire in Late Medieval England, Middle Ages Series (University of Pennsylvania, 2008). Even Mapping Margery Kempe: A Guide to Late Medieval Material and Spiritual Life, a website project she developed with Virginia Raguin with the support of an NEH grant, grew out of her interest in what that medieval mystic might have actually seen on the pilgrimages she detailed in her autobiography.
A concurrent and sometimes overlapping interest of Ms. Stanbury is women in medieval literature and medieval culture. Among the publications in this vein are three anthologies she coedited: (with Linda Lomperis), Feminist Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature (1991), another work in Penn’s Middle Ages Series; (with Katie Conboy and Nadia Medina), Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory (Columbia UP, 1997; Korean trans., 2000); and (with Virginia Raguin), Women’s Space: Patronage, Place and Gender in the Medieval Church (SUNY Press, 2005). In addition, she was the General Editor of issues 30 and 31 (2000, 2001) of Medieval Feminist Forum, the topic of which was “Feminist Legacies: Female Medieval Scholars and the Academy.”
She has published more than thirty other articles, examining the canon of medieval literature through the lenses of ecology, linguistics, “thing theory,” and other varied perspectives, in such prominent journals and reference works as The Chaucer Review, PMLA, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, and Exemplaria. During her Guggenheim Fellowship term, she is working on a book tentatively titled Chaucer at Home, which she describes as a study of vernacular narrative and late medieval house design: how bourgeois houses were designed, built, furnished, and used in late medieval London and continental cities Chaucer visited, and how Chaucer conscripts their design features for his vernacular writing project.
Sarah Stanbury received master’s and doctoral degrees from Duke University (1975, 1980), and taught in various capacities at Northeastern University, Wellesley College, and Tufts University before joining the faculty at the College of the Holy Cross in 1992. She is currently Professor of English there.
Her honors include the NEMLA Women’s Caucus Award for her article “The Virgin’s Gaze in Troilus and Criseyde,” published in PMLA in 1991; a Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge University (2000); and a Faculty Fellowship (2004) and O’Leary Faculty Recognition Award (2005–07) from College of the Holy Cross.