Anthony Spearing

A.C. Spearing

Professor Emeritus


Medieval, Narrative Theory

The central concern of my work is with the interpretation of medieval literature for modern readers, both in its historical contexts and in the contexts provided by the theories and assumptions of our own time. I've mainly written about poetry from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, but I've also been interested in late-medieval religious prose and have written on Julian of Norwich, The Mirror of Simple Souls, The Cloud of Unknowing, and The Book of Margery Kempe. My current focus is on narrative, and especially on what medieval narratives and modern narrative theory have to teach each other.


Litt.D. Cambridge, 2014
Ph.D., h.c., Lund, Sweden, 2011
M.A. Cambridge, 1960


Medieval Autographies: The "I" of the Text, University of Notre Dame Press, 2012
The Medieval Poet as Voyeur, Cambridge University Press, 1993
Readings in Medieval Poetry, Cambridge University Press, 1987
Medieval to Renaissance in English Poetry, Cambridge University Press, 1985
Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde, Edward Arnold, 1976
Medieval Dream-Poetry, Cambridge University Press, 1976
The Gawain-Poet, Cambridge University Press, 1970
An Introduction to Chaucer (with Maurice Hussey and James Winny) , Cambridge University Press, 1965
Criticism and Medieval Poetry , Edward Arnold, 1964

Edited Works

Chaucer: The Reeve's Prologue and Tale (with Elizabeth Spearing) , Cambridge University Press, 1979
Poetry of the Age of Chaucer (with Elizabeth Spearing), Edward Arnold, 1974
Shakespeare: The Tempest (with Elizabeth Spearing), Macmillan, 1971
Chaucer: The Franklin’s Prologue and Tale, Cambridge University Press, 1966
Chaucer: The Knight's Tale , Cambridge University Press, 1966
Chaucer: The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale, Cambridge University Press, 1965


  • "What is a Narrator?", Digital Philology 4 (2015)
  • "Narrative and Freedom in Troilus and Criseyde", in New Directions in Medieval Manuscript Studies and Reading Practices, ed. Kathryn Kerby-Fulton et al. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2014).
  • "Time in Troilus and Criseyde", in Traditions and Innovations in the Study of Medieval English Literature, ed. Charlotte Brewer and Barry Windeatt (D. S. Brewer, 2013).
  • "Was Chaucer a Poet?", Poetica 73 (2010).
  • "Dream Poems", in Chaucer: Contemporary Approaches, ed. Susanna Fein and David Raybin (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010).
  • "The Journey to Jerusalem: Mandeville and Hilton", Essays in Medieval Studies 25 (2008).
  • "Marguerite Porete: Courtliness and Transcendence in The Mirror of Simple Souls", in Envisaging Heaven in the Middle Ages, ed. Carolyn Muessig and Ad Putter (Routledge, 2007).
  • "Language and its Limits: The Cloud of Unknowing and Pearl", in Approaching Medieval English Anchoritic and Mystical Texts, ed. Dee Dyas, Valerie Edden and Roger Ellis (D. S. Brewer, 2005).
  • "Margery Kempe" in A Companion to Middle English Prose, ed. A.S.G. Edwards (D.S. Brewer, 2004).
  • "Textual Performance: Chaucerian Prologues and the French Dit", in Text and Voice: The Rhetoric of Authority in the Middle Ages, ed. Marianne Børch (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2004).
  • "The Book of Margery Kempe; Or, The Diary of a Nobody," Southern Review 38 (2002).
  • The Mirror of Simple Souls (trans. extracts), in Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality, ed. Elizabeth Spearing (Penguin, 2002).
  • "Narrative Voice: The Case of Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale," New Literary History 32 (2001).
  • "Dreams in The Kingis Quair and the Duke's Book," in Charles d'Orleans in England (1415-1440), ed. Mary-Jo Arn (D.S. Brewer, 2000).
  • "Sir Orfeo: Madness and Gender," in The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance, ed. Ad Putter and Jane Gilbert (Longman, 2000).
  • "Introduction" to Reading Dreams: The Interpretation of Dreams from Chaucer to Shakespeare, ed. Peter Brown (Oxford University Press, 1999).
  • "The Subtext of Patience: God as Mother and the Whale's Belly," Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 29 (1999).


  • Chaucer: The Knight’s Tale, Senshu University, Japan, 2008
  • Chaucer: The Franklin’s Tale (narrator), The Chaucer Studio, 1990
  • Chaucer: The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale, Cambridge University Press, 1976
  • Chaucer: The Miller’s Prologue and Tale, Cambridge University Press, 1976
  • Poetry of the Age of Chaucer, Edward Arnold, 1974


  • Honorary Ph.D., University of Lund, Sweden, 2011
  • Conway Lecturer, University of Notre Dame, 2007
  • Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor, University of Bristol, 2003
  • All-University Outstanding Teacher Award, University of Virginia, 2000-2001
  • Lansdowne Visiting Fellow, University of Victoria, British Columbia, 1993
  • Life Fellow, Queens' College, Cambridge 1987-
  • William Matthews Lecturer, Birkbeck College, University of London, 1983-1984
  • W. M. Tapp Research Fellow, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1959-1960