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Photo of Helen Cushman, taken by Sarah Boyd

Assistant Professor

PhD, English, Harvard University

BA with Highest Honors, English and Classics, University of Virginia


I study the relationship between drama and epistemology with particular focus on late medieval England. My current project, Producing Knowledge in the Middle English Mystery Plays, shows how late medieval popular drama was a central battleground for contemporary debates about the nature of knowledge and the politics of knowledge production. My second project, tentatively titled Ghostly Manslaughter: Scandal and Medieval Literary Culture, investigates how late medieval writers understood the sin of scandal—causing another person to sin through poor example, bad information, or “the appearance of evil”—and how, as a result, they understood their ethical obligations to their readers.

My teaching interests and experience include Early English Literature to Milton, the History of Drama, Digital Humanities, Disability Studies, History of the English language, and Medieval Studies. I also direct graduate placement and coordinate the Med-Ren Colloquium.

To read more, visit my website


Teaching Awards

  • Graduate Mentorship Award, 2021
  • Four-time recipient of the Harvard Derek Bok Center Certificate of Distinction in Teaching


  • Institute for the Arts and Humanities Publication Support Grant, UNC, 2023
  • Junior Faculty Development Award, UNC, 2023
  • Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2022
  • Schwab Academic Excellence Award, 2020
  • Council for European Studies First Article Prize, 2019
  • Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2017-18
  • Alexandra Johnston Prize (for best conference paper), Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society, 2017
  • Schallek Award, Medieval Academy of America, 2016
  • Donald Howard Scholarship, New Chaucer Society, 2016
  • Dexter Summer Research Grant, Harvard University, 2016

Courses Taught:

  • (CMPL 473) Medieval European Drama
  • (ENGL 89) One Big Book That’s Worth It (texts vary)
  • (ENGL 120) British Literature, Medieval to 18th Century
  • (ENGL 126) Introduction to Drama
  • (ENGL 223) Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
  • (ENGL 224) Medieval Literature Excluding Chaucer
  • (ENGL 724) Reading Chaucer
  • (ENGL 786) Introduction to Graduate Studies
  • (ENGL 821) Graduate Seminar in Middle English: Knowledge, Wisdom, Mystery

Curriculum Vitae / Resume