Rosemary O'Neill joined the Department of English at Kenyon in 2011 after teaching at Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and teaching take up the literature of later medieval England, with a particular interest in how religious practices shaped the poetry of writers such as Chaucer, Langland and the Pearl-Poet.

At Kenyon, she teaches courses on medieval drama, medieval women writers and literature and religion in medieval England a freshman seminar investigates the topic of marriage in literature from Plato to the present. She is completing a book project which explores the medieval image of the individual conscience as an account book, arguing that discourses of salvation in medieval England were shaped by divergent traditions of financial accounting. A new project investigates the history of the concept of family in Middle English literature. Her research has been supported by grants from the British Academy and the Medieval Academy.

Areas of Expertise

Medieval literature, history of the book, Chaucer.

Education

2009 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Pennsylvania

2000 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ Chicago

Courses Recently Taught

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of department chair. Offered every year.

J. R. R. Tolkien was not just a beloved novelist but also a distinguished scholar who edited, translated and analyzed medieval poetry including "Beowulf", "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." In this course, we will study the literature that gave rise to Tolkien's fiction in order to explore how medieval literature continues to shape contemporary popular culture. In this vein, our reading of medieval texts will pay particular attention to "popular" genres such as purgatory vision narratives, romances and drama. While our reading will primarily focus on the medieval narratives that inspired Tolkien, there will be occasional student-led opportunities to connect this medieval material to Tolkien's own fiction and poetry. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.

From the invention of Valentine's Day, to the notion of love as a sickness, to the articulation of courtship as a game with specific rules, many of our ideas about and expectations for romantic love come to us from medieval literature. Yet in the popular medieval genre of adventure story known as "romance," things do not always go according to love's rules: Men fall in love with other men, women resist getting married, and married women seduce their unsuspecting houseguests. In this course, we will explore the complex messages about love and sex encoded in medieval romances. Our readings will include poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer, the anonymous romances "Roman de Silence" and "Amis and Amiloun", Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun's "Romance of the Rose", and the rules of love offered by both Ovid and Capellanus, and other medieval texts as well as contemporary works of theory and criticism. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major and the women's and gender studies major/concentration. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.

With a focus on major works — "Troilus and Criseyde", "The House of Fame", "The Legend of Good Women" and "The Canterbury Tales" — we will consider Chaucer in the context of medieval literature and as a writer who anticipates modern questions of gender and authority. Reading in Middle English and exploring the social and historical contexts of Chaucer's fictions, we will pay special attention to Chaucer's preoccupations with the experience of reading, the revisioning of romance, the metamorphosis and translation of texts, and the status of the book itself. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.

Individual study in English is a privilege reserved for senior majors who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a writing project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. Because individual study is one option in a rich and varied English curriculum, it is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework, and it cannot normally be used to fulfill requirements for the major. An IS will earn the student 0.5 units of credit, although in special cases it may be designed to earn 0.25 units. To qualify to enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the English department willing to direct the project. In consultation with that faculty member, the student must write a one-to two page proposal for the IS that the department chair must approve before the IS can go forward. The chair’s approval is required to ensure that no single faculty member becomes overburdened by directing too many IS courses. In the proposal, the student should provide a preliminary bibliography (and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks) for the course, outline a specific schedule of reading and/or writing assignments, and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., a short story to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a thirty-page research paper submitted at course’s end, with rough drafts due at given intervals). Students should also briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies them for their proposed individual studies. The department expects IS students to meet regularly with their instructors for at least one hour per week, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. The amount of work submitted for a grade in an IS should approximate at least that required, on average, in 400-level English courses. In the case of group individual studies, a single proposal may be submitted, assuming that all group members will follow the same protocols. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of their proposed individual study well in advance, preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.