Professional Bio

In a marvelous 10th century codex known as the “Exeter Book” one finds a miniature riddle about a moth that eats songs. The text concludes, stælgiest ne wæs / wihte þy gleawra / þe he þam wordum swealg: “the thief-guest was no wiser for having swallowed words.” I am a medievalist, linguist, and interloper in the literatures of later periods who studies how swallowing words can make us wise. I was drawn to medieval literature for its inspiring range, risk, and durability but also for its panic attacks about unusual sunsets and lamentations on migraine headaches and surly chickens. My research aims to recover and recontextualize the achievements of 11th and 15th century poets by modeling how cognitive bias can lead to the invention of new literary forms and, in particular, how this creativity, rooted in subcortical motor regions of the brain, can offer a more complete history of English prosody and a roadmap for the clinical rehabilitation of motor disorders.