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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


Dr. Scott Lightsey specializes the literary history and culture of late medieval England in its European contexts.  His teaching encourages a holistic understanding of literature, language, aesthetics, and the principles, customs, and habits within which they flourish.  He teaches the Middle English Seminar, the life and works of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and a small array of literary and cultural history courses such as The Medieval City and Women and Family in Premodern England, as well as surveys in the History of the English Language and British- and World Literature.  His publications explore the intersections between the rarefied aesthetics of elite poetry, art, and social forms, and the grittier world of work and technology that enable familiar elite forms of expression.

Dr. Lightsey’s early work focused on English poetic responses to and representations of manmade mirabilia—the marvels, wonders, theatrical displays, and clockwork gadgets that burst into effect in the court and public performances of the latter fourteenth century.  More recently, he has focused on the role of craft in the poetry of John Lydgate, produced a study of fourteenth century clocks, and undertaken a book-length project tentatively titled Young Chaucer, framing a revised image of the grey-bearded and rotund elder poet as a saddle-hardened young soldier and adventurer; instead of looking back through later poetry, the details of Chaucer’s early life coalesce into a portrait of a young man whose youthful presence facilitated his later legacy.

Elements of a later chapter from this project appear in a recent Chaucer Review, and Scott’s work is published or forthcoming in journals such as Studies in the Age of Chaucer and Postmedieval and in anthologies by MLA, Cambridge University Press, Salem Press, and others.  His research at the Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the British Library, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France has been funded by a variety of university grants and through the British Academy.


Selected publications include:

“’Of crafty bildyng & werkyng most roial’: Lydgate’s Allusions to Craft and the Role of Making in Medieval Civic Poetry” in Later Middle English Literature, Materiality, and Culture: Essays in Honor of James M. Dean. Brian Gastle and Erick Kelemen, Eds. (University of Delaware Press 2018).

“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. 

 “Dicti Galfridus—‘Of the said Geoffrey…’” Critical Insights: Geoffrey Chaucer. Ed. James M. Dean (Salem Press, 2017)

“Chaucer’s International Presence.” Critical Insights: Geoffrey Chaucer. Ed. James M. Dean (Salem Press, 2017)

“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