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Stephen Powell

Associate Professor, English

Stephen Powell
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5216
Availability: Office Hours - Fall 2020

Tuesday and Thursday 1145-1215 (by Zoom) - email me for link

and by appointment


BA Oberlin College
MA Indiana University
PhD University of Toronto


My research focuses on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century literature and culture, principally Chaucer and romance.  I am also interested in the history of the English language and readings of “the Middle Ages” in the post-medieval world, and I have published in several areas of textual criticism, including bibliography, manuscript studies, history of the book, and editorial theory.  

I have just completed a co-authored article on the editorial treatment of Middle English didactic romances in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  This article appeared in Philological Quarterly in 2019.

My main research interests come together in the two large projects I am currently working on, a study of the manuscript transmission of Middle English didactic romances and an examination of the history of the editing of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  Sections of both of these large projects have been published, and I am completing the balance of them.

In my writing, I have also ventured outside my home base in the late Middle English period. I have published on an Old English poem, Guthlac B, as well as on Jonathan Swift's Journal to Stella and Charles Dickens's David Copperfield; and I am the co-editor of a collection of essays on receptions of the classical tale of the fall of Troy in medieval and early modern Europe.


The diversity of my research interests is reflected in the variety of courses I have taught, at Concordia and, earlier, at the University of Guelph, TCU, and the University of Kentucky.  I have taught many of Concordia’s medieval course offerings, as well as History of the English Language, and also enjoy teaching introductory courses and courses to students from other programs.  I have extensive experience teaching writing, and I have even taught a course in technical writing and document design.

I'm always happy to work, as supervisor or committee member, with students who have an interest in any area of Old or Middle English or historical linguistics.  I also feel comfortable working with undergraduates in a committee role in a wide range of fields outside of medieval literature, especially in early modern literature and eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century fiction.

Students in most of my class will discover that I seldom lecture; I want students to create their own knowledge.  When necessary, I am happy to provide background knowledge, to play devil's advocate, to coach.  But mainly I want my students to do the thinking—and the talking—in class. They may not cram in all the facts I wish they knew (because of course facts are useful), but I believe they will have learned analytic skills that are far more valuable than facts.  In supervising research projects at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I have a similar philosophy—that my job is to stand to the side and to allow the student to be the principal investigator, calling on me only for encouragement, methodological and theoretical suggestions, and questioning.  

Selected publications

“Editing for God and Country: Middle English Exemplary Romances from Thomas Warton to Julius Zupitza.”  Philological Quarterly 98 (2019): 297-327.  Co-authored with David Knight-Croft.

Fantasies of Troy: Classical Tales and the Social Imaginary in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.  Ed. Alan Shepard and Stephen D. Powell.  Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2004.

“Game Over: Defragmenting the End of the Canterbury Tales.” Chaucer Review 37 (2002): 40-58.

“Models of Religious Peace in the Middle English Romance Sir Isumbras.”  Neophilologus 85 (2001): 121-36.

“Manuscript Context and the Generic Instability of Roberd of Cisyle.”  Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 100 (1999): 271-89.

“Multiplying Textuality: Generic Migration in the Manuscripts of Roberd of Cisyle.”  Anglia 116 (1998): 171-97.

“The Journey Forth: Elegiac Consolation in Guthlac B.”  English Studies 79 (1998): 489-500.

“The Subject of David Copperfield’s Renaming and the Limits of Fiction.”  Dickens Studies Annual 31 (2002): 47-66.

“Cor Laceratum: Corresponding Till Death in Swift’s Journal to Stella.”  Modern Language Review 94 (1999): 341-54.

“Transforming the Proud King Transformed: Robert of Sicily.”  Modern Retellings of Chivalric Texts.  Ed. Gloria Allaire.  Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999.  67-81.

Selected presentations

“Defamiliarizing the Pearl-poet: Rejecting Translations and Broadening the Course.” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2019.

“Rethinking Urry's Chaucer.” Canada Chaucer Seminar, Toronto, May 2018. 

“Making Chaucer Safe for Early Modern Readers.”  International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 2011.

“‘Sike in bed sche lay’: Lust and Disease inAmis and Amiloun.”  International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 2003.

“‘If it may doon ese’: The Legal, Male Desire of Chaucer’s Manciple.” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 2002.

“A Thorny Issue:The Riverside Chauceras Research Tool.”  International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 2002. 

“Surviving Materials: Medieval Romance in Early Modern England.”  Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies, New Orleans, November 2000.

“The Sadistic Ritual of Didacticism: Middle English Mystery Plays and Homiletic Romances.” Twelfth New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Sarasota, Florida, March 2000.

“God, the Knight, his Wife, and her Lover: Keeping Religious Peace in Middle English Romance.”  Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference, Tempe, February 1998.

“Authorial Limits: Anonymity and Authority in Middle English Scribal Intervention.”  Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference, Tempe, February 1997.

“Nine Scribes Not in Search of an Author: Authorial Privilege, Editing, and the Middle English Roberd of Cisyle.”  Modern Language Association, Chicago, December 1995.

Teaching activities

Fall 2019

ENGL 231 Medieval Literature in Translation
ENGL 250 Forms of Popular Writing
ENGL 302 History of the English Language


ENGL 302 History of the English Language
ENGL 430 Old English (full-year)
ENGL 434 Advanced Studies in Early English Literature: Medieval Texts, Modern Readers


ENGL 302 History of the English Language
ENGL 304 Chaucer (full-year)
ENGL 434 Advanced Studies in Early English Literature: Medieval Texts, Modern Readers

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