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Photo of Taylor Cowdery, taken by Sarah Boyd

Assistant Professor of English and Robert M. Lumiansky Fellow / Director of Graduate Admissions

2016 Ph.D. English, Harvard University

2009 B.A. English, Columbia University


I study late medieval and early modern poetry, with a particular research focus on the question of what premodern poets thought about the materiality of language and literature—or, put in the broadest terms, what they believed their poems were made of. My book, Matter and Making in Early English Literature, from Chaucer to Sidney, explores the implications of this question in fourteenth-, fifteenth-, and sixteenth-century English court poetry, which had a striking, but often overlooked, fixation upon the historical, textual, conceptual, and physical matter out of which poems and stories are made.

I’m also interested in literary theory, the politics of aesthetics, the history of gender and sexuality, and premodern intellectual history.

To read more, visit my website


  • “Hoccleve’s Formulary and the Matter of Everyday Life.” Forthcoming in Thomas Hoccleve: New Approaches, ed. Jenni Nuttall and David Watt (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer).
  • “Lydgate and the Surplus of History.” ELH 85.3 (2018): 567-98.
  • “Translation for ‘Sentence’ in Middle English Poetry: the Case of John Walton.” In The Legacy of Boethius in Medieval England, ed. A.J. McMullen and Erica Weaver (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017), 193-214.
  • “Hoccleve’s Poetics of Matter,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer (2016): 133-64.
  • “Humanist Styles of Reading in the Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton.” In The Dark Side of Knowledge: Histories of Ignorance, 1400-1800, ed. Cornel Zwierlein (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 197-224.


  • A.W. Mellon Fellowship in Medieval Studies, Institute of Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame (2017-18)

Courses Taught:


  • ENGL 89: “Apocalypse When?”
  • ENGL 120: “Introduction to British Literature, 800-1800”
  • ENGL 153: “Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Premodern World”
  • ENGL 329: “Medieval Feminisms”
  • ENGL 821: “Feeling in Medieval Literature” (Spring 2020) and “Premodern Style” (Spring 2019)

Curriculum Vitae / Resume