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John D. Niles

Professor Emeritus of Humanities

University of Wisconsin –Madison


Professor Emeritus of English

University of California – Berkeley

1460 Riverside Ave.

Boulder CO 80304



Welcome to my personal home page. This site is meant to be of use to anyone interested in my background, interests, and career.


Curriculum Vitae offers an outline of my academic career, my teaching experience and specialties, my higher degrees, some awards I have received, and my professional affiliations.

Publications lists in six categories my books, editions, essays, and works in progress.

CURRENT NEWS (updated March 2018):

Since retiring from teaching at the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 2011 I have been remained active in research. Four books that I have authored or co-edited have appeared in print from 2011 to 2017, and two additional books are forthcoming.

The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England 1066-1901: Remembering, Forgetting, Deciphering, and Renewing the Past (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015) offers a comprehensive account of the history of Old English literary studies, and the idea of Anglo-Saxon England more generally, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. (See Publications for details about this publication and my others.)

Old English Literature: A Guide to Criticism with Selected Readings (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016) analyzes changing trends in the critical reception of the literature of the Anglo-Saxons during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Anglo-Saxon England and the Visual Imagination (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2016), co-edited by Stacy Klein, Jonathan Wilcox, and myself, grew out of a conference of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists that I hosted at Madison in 2011 while serving as president of that organization. The volume consists of new research by a number of distinguished art historians, archaeologists, and literary scholars.

The Genesis of Books: Studies in the Scribal Culture of Medieval England in Honor of A.N. Doane (Brepols, 2012), co-edited with Matthew Hussey, honors a distinguished former member of the UW-Madison Department of English and his contributions to Medieval Studies. The volume consists of new research by a number of leading experts in the early manuscript culture of England.

One forthcoming book, due to be published in approximately October 2018 by the University of Exeter Press, is titled God's Exiles and English Verse: On the Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry. It is the first book-length critical study to take into account the whole of the Exeter Book, the most important anthology of Old English poetry to have come down to us: its principles of design, its relationship of parts, its leading themes, its points of formal and stylistic interest, its probable makers and readers, and its possible uses in its time.

The other forthcoming book is volume 1 of a projected two-volume edition and translation of the complete corpus of Anglo-Saxon medical texts. To be titled The Old English Herbarium, Lacnunga, and Cures from Other Sources, this volume is being produced in partnership with the Italian scholar Maria D'Aronco, an expert in the Herbarium and related literature, for publication by Harvard University Press c. 2019 in its very attractive new series Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library.

In addition to these books, I have recently edited two special journal issues on topics of interest to folklorists and specialists in oral literature. The first of these, From Word to Print and Beyond, published as volume 72, issue 3 (2014) of Western Folklore, presents new research on the theory and practice of textualizing works of oral literature. The other one, Living Epics of China and Inner Asia, published as volume 129, no. 513 (2016) of Journal of American Folklore, features new research on the epic poems Gesar and Manas written by experts from China, Europe, and North America.

Other research projects include a projected book, now still in its early stages, on the impact of the Huns and other peoples of the steppe on the formation of early "Germanic" identity, with a particular focus on the making of Anglo-Saxon England.

I also have a long-standing interest in Scottish traditions. One focus of my research is the adjoining islands of Mull and Iona in the Inner Hebrides, seen as a region that encapsulates a number of cultural transformations over time. Another focal point is a single gifted storyteller and singer whom I recorded at length in the 1980s, Duncan Williamson of Loch Fyne and Fife (1928-2007).