Michelle DeGroot

Michelle DeGroot

I’ve lived in a lot of places — Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, Boston, Oxford, London — but I’m so happy to have landed back in Virginia and here at Hollins. As a scholar, I have at least two (overlapping) identities: literature specialist and medievalist. As a literature scholar, I love that I get to teach a wide variety of literary periods at Hollins, ranging from the year 400 to 2018, finding in every era the strange spells that language casts. As a medievalist, I grab every piece of cultural context I can to understand that language and to help me access a culture that is both similar and very foreign to our own. I think those skills — analyzing rhetoric, appreciating beauty, engaging with difference — are essential to life.

Areas of Expertise

  • Medieval literature, medievalism, speculative and genre fiction, religion and literature

Courses Taught

  • First-Year Seminar, "Imagined Cities from Plato to Pratchett"
  • Introduction to Children's Literature
  • From the Spheres to the Stars: Speculative Fiction and Its Literary Ancestors
  • Medieval Literature
  • Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
  • Dante's Divine Comedy
  • The Eighteenth-Century Novel
  • Senior Research Seminar

Education

  • M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University
  • B.A., University of Virginia

Publications & Articles

Accomplishments

  • Mellon Fellow, 2017-2018
  • Knox Memorial Traveling Fellowship, 2013-2014

Research Interests

  • I’m currently working on a book that examines the ways in which late medieval English narrative poetry deals with heaven. The image of the jeweled heavenly city shows up in texts where you might expect it, like religious descriptions of the afterlife, but also in more surprising contexts, like descriptions of the kingdom of Faerie or the muddy reality of contemporary London. The way these texts imagine with heaven, the ultimate happy ending, tells us a lot about how late medieval readers might have understood their own complicated communities.
  • I’m also interested in medieval attitudes to history and belief, modern adaptions (from the sublime to the diabolical) of the Middle Ages, and I have an article on narrative theory and Syfy’s 12 Monkeys that’s percolating, pending the actual end of the series!