Siobhain Bly Calkin

Associate Professor

Degrees:B.A. Honours (McGill), M.A. (Queen's), Ph.D. (Notre Dame)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2337
Office:1809 Dunton Tower

Research Interests

  • Medieval Literature (especially Middle English)
  • Crusading Texts
  • Medieval Romances
  • Chaucer
  • Manuscript Culture and Book History
  • Vernacularity and Translation
  • Nationalism and Transnationalism
  • Thing Theory, Materialism, and Form

Current Research

I am intrigued by the ways in which medieval texts circulated, and by their cultural engagements with the world that produced and consumed them. Medieval depictions of cross-cultural contact, conflict and conquest, especially across religious lines, also fascinate me and have been the focus of much of my research.

My 2005 book and many of my articles discuss the depictions of Muslims in late medieval English texts and their relation to ideas of nationalism, chivalry, violence, and crusade. Questions about manuscript culture, its fluidity, and the reception of antecedent texts also animate much of my work.

I am currently writing a book about crusade literature entitled Narratives of Impassioned Things: Christian Tales of Passion Relics Circulating in Muslim Contexts. It examines English, French and Latin narratives produced between 1095CE and 1500CE, studying how such narratives illuminate late medieval Christian anxieties about the complex interactions between devotional objects and the devout subjects that worship them. I am particularly interested in the theological and cultural challenges encountered when narrating such episodes (whether lived or imagined), and the strategies deployed to articulate cultural dispossession. This research has led me into a sustained consideration of thing theory, affect theory, medieval materialism, and the ways in which things structure and inform the human subjects around them.

When this project is complete, I hope to pursue my inquiries into medieval notions of textual closure and the ways in which different scribes chose to end or complete apparently unfinished vernacular texts in the Middle Ages.

Honours and Awards

  • Carleton University, Faculty of Graduate and Professional Affairs, Nomination for Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award (2020)
  • Carleton University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Excellence Award, 2018-19
  • SSHRCC Insight Grant 2014-20
  • Carleton University, FASS Faculty Teaching Award, 2014
  • Carleton University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Junior Faculty Researcher Award, 2011
  • SSHRCC Standard Research Grant 2005-8


Saracens and the Making of English Identity: The Auchinleck Manuscript. New York: Routledge, 2005. Paperback, 2009.

Selected Publications

Relic Tales: A Descriptive Catalogue of Medieval Narratives Recounting the Circulation of Christian Passion Relics in Mixed Muslim-Christian Contexts. Co-authored with Hisham Al Khatib and Danielle Taylor. Released: February 2022

Narrating Trauma? Captured Cross Relics in Chronicles and chansons de geste,Exemplaria 33.1 (2021): 19-43.

“Arthour and Merlin”, “Crusades Romance”, and “King of Tars” articles in The Encyclopedia of British Medieval Literature. Ed. Siân Echard and Robert Rouse. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.

“Endings in the Auchinleck Manuscript,” in The Auchinleck Manuscript:  New Perspectives, ed. Susanna Fein.  York: York Medieval Press, 2016.  pp. 156-75.

“Devotional Objects, Saracen Spaces and Miracles in Two Matter of France Romances” in Medieval Romance and Material Culture, ed, Nicholas Perkins. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2015. pp. 59-74.

“The Beauchamp Pageants.” Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, Volume 5 (1350-1500). Ed. David Thomas and Alex Mallett. Leiden: Brill, 2013, pp. 583-86.

“Saracens” in Heroes and Anti-Heroes in Medieval Romance, ed. Neil Cartlidge. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2012. pp. 185-200.

Recent Papers Presented

“Speaking Devotional Instruction Across Religious Divides: The ‘Four sarȝins’ from Ethiopia in Bible Anonyme and Cursor Mundi,” New Chaucer Society, 22nd Biennial Congress, University of Durham, Durham, UK, July 11-15, 2022.

“Narratives of Seeking: Rethinking Theoretical Models of How Trauma Manifests Textually,” 57th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May 9-14, 2022. Online.

“What Happens When Skin Meets Cross-Wood? Changes in Skin Colour and Constructions of Whiteness, Blackness, and Religious Devotion in Cursor Mundi,” Approaches to Skin in Literature and Culture, Virtual Workshop, University of Bern and University of Surrey, June 10-11, 2021.

“Mobilizing ‘Knowledge Mobilization’: Research, Outreach, and Graduate Student Training,” Canadian Society of Medievalists / Société canadienne des médiévistes Annual Conference, Online Medieval Mondays June 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2021. (June 14)

“Affect and the Construction of Religious Identity: Tales of Christians, Saracens, and Cross Relics in the Age of Chaucer,” New Chaucer Society, 21st Biennial Congress, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, July 10-15, 2018.

“Translating Passion Relics Across Religious Boundaries and the Manifestation of Thingly Agency,” 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May 10-13, 2018.

“Traumatic Events and Textual Stutters: Losing and Regaining Cross Relics in the Fierabras/Destruction de Rome tradition,” The 16th Biennial Medieval Insular Romance Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, April 9-11, 2018.

“Recounting the Capture of the Cross: Loss, Trauma, and the Challenges of Narrating Cultural Dispossession,” Canadian Society of Medievalists / Société canadienne des médiévistes     Annual Congress, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, May 27-29, 2017.

Research Papers and Theses Supervised

Danielle Taylor, (Ph.D) Fraternity and Governance in Fifteenth-Century English Literature, 2021

Alicia Haniford, (MA) “Negotiating Narrative Constructs of Past and Present in Bevis of Hampton and Guy of Warwick,” 2020 (University Medal)

Meghan Tibbits-Lamirande, (MA) “To Be(Head) or Not to Be(Head): Decapitation in Richard Coer de Lyon,” 2019.

Francine Harris, (MA) “The Identity-defining Role of Forgetting in Transformative Disguise in two Middle English Romances: Havelok the Dane and Sir Isumbras,” 2018 (Senate Medal)

Montana McLaughlin Tom, (MA) “Word and Image in the Ellesmere Manuscript and Two Later Versions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales” 2017.

Polina Svadkovskaia, (MA) “Gendered Space and Power Symbol: Imagining the Castle in Middle English Romance,” 2017.