Dr Sam Lasman, Corpus Christi




Biographical Information

I am currently the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Early-Career Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. I also provide supervision and instruction in subjects including Middle English and Classical Persian literature. Previously, I was a Humanities Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago, where I received my PhD in Comparative Literature in 2020. My dissertation received the Dean's Distinguished Dissertation Award for best dissertation in the humanities at the University of Chicago in 2021. 

Research Interests

My research focuses on the interplay of the historical and the supernatural in medieval narratives from Europe and the Middle East, particularly the Iranian world and the British Isles. I work mainly on Welsh, Persian, and Old French texts, in addition to other languages and traditions, including Middle English, Old Norse, Arabic, and Irish. 

My current book project, Parahuman Pasts: Monsters, Strangers, and Time in Medieval Narrative, explores the roles played by speculative beings in accounts of the past across three medieval literary ecosystems: Middle Welsh prose, New Persian verse epic, and Old French narrative lais. Within each of these genres, medieval writers deploy parahumans—human-like nonhumans—to fashion the past as a site of intimate alterity, alien yet indelibly linked to the cultural identities and anxieties that structure the present. By populating historical narratives with entities that display human characteristics yet refuse (or are refused) humanity, these texts constitute imaginative attempts to reconfigure received traditions into speculative histories. These in turn often become enduring origin myths, through complex processes of intertextuality, canonisation, and identity-building. 

A second project, currently in its early stages, is tentatively titled Colonizing the Otherworld: Parahumans and Racialized Discourse. This focuses on the euhemeristic characterisation of parahumans as representatives of an ancient, colonised race. While elves, fairies, div, sasquatches, and other legendary folk all fulfill distinct cultural roles, a strand of discourse emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that attempted to rationalise accounts of these beings by reading them as distorted reports of encounters between conquering invaders and indigenous populations. While it received an ambivalent academic reception, this paradigm became widespread throughout popular and para-academic sources. By  excavating how discourses of conquest and racialisation have been employed to euhemerise mythological, literary, and folkloric accounts of parahumans, this project examines the ways in which premodern sources have been read and exploited for colonialist purposes. 

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

2023               “Dreaming the Past’s Futures: Rhonabwy’s Dream as Chronofiction.” Arthuriana: The Journal of Arthurian Studies 33.1 (March 2023).

2022               “Approaching Islamicate Fictionalities.” With N. İpek Hüner Cora and Rachel Schine. Islamicate Fictionalities: a special issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies (forthcoming).  

2021               “Otherworld Treasure and Bardic Disguise: Recovering the Past in Medieval Welsh and Persian Literatures.” Looking Ahead: Global Encounters in the North Atlantic, ca. 350–1300. A special dossier in Viator. Eds. Nahir Otaño Gracia, Nicole Lopez-Jantzen, & Erica Weaver.

2019                “Singing in Chains: Prison, Porter, and Transgressive Narration in Medieval Welsh Tales of the Past.” Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium, 372017. Eds. Celeste Andrews, Heather Newton, Joseph Shack, & Joe Wolf. Cambridge & London: Harvard University Press.

Book Chapters

2023          “Flying Kings, Sky Demons, and the Intimate Inhumanity of Air,” in Air. Eds. Elisa Ramazzina, Hugh Magennis, & Marilina Cesario. Brill (forthcoming).  

                  "Snake-Men: Confronting the Human and the Draconic in Medieval Persian Epic,” in Comparing Dragons: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern. Ed. Joseph Falaky Nagy. Brepols (forthcoming).

2021               “Otherworld Literature: Parahuman Pasts in Classical Persian Historiography and Epic,” in Persian Literature as World Literature. Eds. Mostafa Abedinifard, Omid Azadibougar, & Amirhossein Vafa. Bloomsbury Academic (Literatures as World Literature series).


2020               “A Monstrous Courtship,” from The Book of Bahman, by Hakim Irānshāh ebn-e Abi-l-Khayr. Edition, translation from Persian, and introduction by Sam Lasman. Global Medieval Sourcebookhttps://sourcebook.stanford.edu/text/monstrous-courtship.