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Scott Lightsey

Associate Professor

M.A. Catholic University, 1997
Ph.D. University of Delaware, 2001


Middle English Literature, Medieval Culture, History of the English Language


To counteract the perception that the medieval period is harsh and distant, Scott Lightsey often leads excursions into the strange, humorous, and offbeat corners of medieval culture and language. Whether comparing Chaucer’s comic rooster Chaunticleer to a medieval clockwork, using illuminated maps to explain biblical narratives, or examining Augustine’s prosthetic approach to redemption in The City of God, his eclectic approach to teaching allows students great freedom in coming to understand this sometimes demanding literature and its culture.

Scott’s early research interests revolved around the transmission of wonders in medieval texts and material culture, arguing that late medieval representations of mirabilia – such as Chaucer’s flying Horse of Brass, the monstrous body of King Alexander, and Eastern wonders like Mandeville’s automated peacocks – reflect the preliminary stages of what would become in the seventeenth century a “clockwork universe.” A Chaucerian by training, his recent work focuses on the details of the early life of Geoffrey Chaucer, framing a revised image of the “father of English literature” as a saddle-hardened young adventurer, the mundane details of whose life coalesce into a fascinating portrait of a young man whose youthful presence facilitated his later legacy. His biography, Young Chaucer, detailing the life before the poetry, is currently underway.



“Chaucer’s Return from Lombardy, the Shrine of St. Leonard at Hythe, and The House of Fame, ll. 112-18.” Chaucer Review, vol. 51.2, April 2017.

“’Of crafty bildyng & werkyng most roial’: Lydgate’s Allusions to the Craft and the Role of Making in Medieval Civic Poetry” in Later Middle English Literature, Materiality, and Culture (forthcoming)

“Dicti Galfridus—‘Of the said Geoffrey…’” (forthcoming)

“Chaucer’s International Presence.” (forthcoming)

“The Paradox of Transcendent Machines in the Demystification of the Boxley Christ,” Postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. Vol. 1, no. 1, spring/summer 2010 (2011), pp. 99-107.

Manmade Marvels in Medieval Culture and Literature. The New Middle Ages (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2007)Book Review

“The Pagan Past and Chaucer’s Christian Present.” Teaching Chaucer’s Troilus & Criseyde and the Minor Poems (New York: Modern Language Association, 2008).

“Alliterative Poetry.” A Companion to Old and Middle English Literature, Eds. Robert T. Lambdin and Laura C. Lambdin. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002) 37-49.

“Lydgate’s ‘Stede of Bras,’ A Chaucerian Analogue in Troy Book IV.” English Language Notes38.3 (March 2001) 33-40.

“Chaucer’s Secular Marvels and the Medieval Economy of Wonder.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 23 (2001) 289-316.