Dr Peter Buchanan, Faculty of English




Biographical Information

I am a Teaching Associate at the Faculty of English, specialising in Medieval Literature. Before coming to Cambridge, I was a college lecturer in English Literature & Language at the University of Oxford.

Research Interests

Most of my research comes from a curiosity about how the medieval writes back: how premodern writers, readers, and texts resist critical categories and contradict the simple stories we write about medieval books and people. This has translated into research on different strands of medieval intellectual culture, especially: scholastic philosophy & humanism; literary theory and fiction in medieval France, Italy, England, and Scotland; medieval interactions with big names from antiquity like Boethius, Augustine, Plotinus and Aristotle. Currently, my main interests are in 14th/15th-century literature and philosophy; the English reception of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, and modal concepts of contingency and possibility as influences on literary theory and practice in the late Middle Ages. 

I am in the process of publishing my first book, Contingent Chaucers: Experience and Modality in Chaucerian Poetics, and I am in the preliminary stages of a new research project on modal metaphysics in medieval literature, provisionally entitled The Medieval Multiverse. Recently, I have published work on perspective and subjectivity in Troilus and Criseyde, modalities of grace and free will in The Clerk's Tale, and Neoplatonic ideas in The Canon's Yeoman's Tale; I am also contributing to The Year's Work in English Studies, and have just finished co-editing The Chaucer Encyclopedia, forthcoming next year. 

Areas of Graduate Supervision

English literature c. 8th - 16th-centuries, especially Chaucer, Hoccleve, the Gawain-poet, 13th/14th-century romance, OE elegy and Beowulf;

Elizabethan/Jacobean drama with focus on medievalism, classicism, philosophical contexts;

12th - 14th-century scholastic philosophy & Christian theology;

Literary theory, especially topics on modality/contingency theory, theories of reading, literary narrative & form, epistemology of fiction.

Selected Publications

Contingent Chaucers: Experience and Modality in Chaucerian Poetics. Boydell & Brewer [in review], forthcoming 2023.

'"Philosophres speken so mystily": Progress, Decline, and Obscuritas in The Canon's Yeoman's Tale', The Chaucer Review, forthcoming 2023.

'"Into a litel oxes stalle": Grace and Fortune in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale', Religion & Literature, forthcoming 2023.

[with Rebecca Menmuir and Pamela Kask], 'Chaucer', The Year's Work in English Studies 102, forthcoming 2023.

[with Rebecca Menmuir and Lucy Brookes], 'III. Chaucer', The Year's Work in English Studies 101, 2022. 

'Reading Bodies, Books, and Beyond: Experience and Contingency in Troilus and Criseyde', Textual Practice 37, 2023 [published online 2021].

'Review: Fulton, Helen, ed., Chaucer and Italian Culture', Speculum 98, 2023.