Siobhain Bly Calkin

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 working on a book entitled Narratives of Impassioned Things, which examines texts produced between 1095 and 1500 that recount the circulation of Christian relics in Muslim contexts. This book studies 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, medieval materialism, trauma theory, 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, FASS Research Excellence Award, 2018-19
  • Carleton University, FASS Faculty Teaching Award, 2014
  • SSHRCC Insight Grant 2014-19
  • 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.

Recent Publications

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

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

“King of Tars,” 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

“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.

“Becoming One? Passion Relics, Human Bodies, and Christian Negotiations of Loss,” 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May 11-14, 2017.

“What is the Literary Value of a Name?”  New Chaucer Society, 20th Biennial Congress, Queen Mary University of London, London, U.K., July 10-15, 2016.

“Acknowledging Multilingualism: Translation, Form, and Manuscript mise-en-page in a Fourteenth-Century English Manuscript,” Medieval Manuscripts in Canada Symposium, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C., March 18, 2016.

“Conclusion, Closure, and Cultures of Reading,” 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 14-17, 2015.

“Chronicling Trauma, Romancing Loss: Narrating the Capture of the Cross Across Genres,” Medieval Academy of America 2015, 90th Annual Meeting, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, March 12-14, 2015.

“Giving Form to Antagonisms?: The Various Translations in Sir Ferumbras,” New Chaucer Society, 19th Biennial Congress, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland, July 16-20, 2014.

“What Makes a Relic a Relic? The Lance of Antioch and the Challenges of Narrating Thingly Agency,” Canadian Society of Medievalists / Société canadienne des médiévistes Annual Congress, Brock University, St. Catharine’s, Ontario, May 24-26, 2014.

“One Manuscript, One Text: Thinking Romance Form and Tradition in Unique Manuscripts That Contain Only One Text,” 49th International Medieval Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 8-11, 2014.

M.A. Research Papers and Theses Supervised

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

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

Eliott McCormack, “Ingested Identity: Richard Coer de Lyon, ‘Englishness,’ and the Illusion of Civilization,” 2011.

Gavin McKercher, “Ladies’ Knight: A Look at Gawain’s Shift  from Masculine Ideal to Champion of Female Sovereignty and Sexual Freedom in Six Medieval Texts,”  2011.

Diane Collette, “Margery Kempe’s The Book of Margery Kempe: Finding Faith and Value Through the Feminization of Religion,” 2005.