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Curriculum Vitae:

Anyone who wishes to find out about my academic background and interests can click here to access my standard Curriculum Vitae. CVs give only the basics, however, so let me add a few informal remarks.

I retired in June 2011 after teaching for ten years in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Before that, I taught for twenty-five years at the University of California - Berkeley and an initial four years at Brandeis University.

Although I always taught in departments of English, my PhD is in Comparative Literature and I consider myself a comparatist by training and temperament. The Old English epic poem Beowulf was the focal point of my graduate studies and has remained central to my research over the years. After completing the doctorate, I developed competence in such areas as orality and textuality; manuscript studies; linguistics and language history; social history; anthropological approaches to the study of literature; comparative folklore and mythology; archaeology and material culture; and (to some degree) Old Norse and Celtic studies. During the 1980s I undertook substantial fieldwork into current singing and storytelling practices in Scotland, particularly among the Scottish travelling people, or tinkers.

I remain active in research, and I hope to finish a set of projects in retirement that I could not complete while in the midst of teaching duties and other responsibilities. My chief aspiration during my scholarly career has been to make connections: between past and present, between text and voice, between elite culture and folk or popular culture, between literature and material culture, between West and East, between the worldly and the spiritual, between academic rigor and creative vision. The aim of my research is to help foster a more alert, inquisitive, discerning, broad-minded, and compassionate humanity.











Updated: April 2019