Photo of Robin Norris

Robin Norris

Degrees:B.A. (Tulane), M.A. (Ohio State), M.A., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 4195
Email:robin_norris@carleton.ca
Office:1813 Dunton Tower

Research Interests:

Masculinity and emotion in Anglo-Saxon literature and culture, gender and genre in Old English hagiography, Anglo-Saxon litanies of the saints, Saint Guthlac.

Current Research:

I have two major projects underway. First, I am finishing a monograph entitled The Litany of the Saints and the Taxonomy of Sanctity in Anglo-Saxon England. The litany of the saints was a form of prayer the became a touchstone of Anglo-Saxon culture. Throughout the period, authors and artists employed the litanic hierarchy and its terminology to classify the saints and to conceptualize their various modes of sanctity. This was no mere commonplace but a habit of mind shared by all who prayed to the saints. When an Anglo-Saxon thought of the saints in heaven, what s/he envisioned was the litanic hierarchy. To answer questions about the saints – different types, what to call them, their relative prestige – it was to the litany that they turned. Yet very little work has been done on the Anglo-Saxon litany of the saints. My work focuses on the framework shared by all these prayers and the cultural work this structure performs in Anglo-Saxon England. For example, why are all female saints – regardless of their historical context, manner of death, or physiology – categorized as virgins? And why is the Virgin Mary deliberately separated from them within the litanic hierarchy?

Second, I am working with Johanna Kramer (University of Missouri) and Hugh Magennis (Queen’s University Belfast) to edit and translate twenty-two texts for Anonymous Old English Saints’ Lives, to be published by Harvard University Press for Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. At the time of our volume’s publication, the standard editions of nine of these texts will be 100 years old. For six of these texts, ours will be the first edition in English. For twelve of these texts, ours will be the first published translation. Moreover, the fact that these texts exist in 15 different editions proves a logistical barrier for anyone who wishes to peruse the corpus as a whole. It is no surprise, therefore, that these texts have largely been read in isolation, when they have been read at all. Yet putting these lives in dialogue gives us new perspectives on hagiography as a corpus. For example, the various subgenres of saints’ lives become apparent, revealing that saints who die of natural causes are usually accompanied by mourning men.

Recent Awards:  

FASS Research Achievement Award 2014

Recent Publications (2010 to present):

“The Sevenfold-Fivefold-Threefold Litany of the Saints in the Leofric Missal and Beyond.” Anglo-Saxon England 43 (2014): 183–207.

“Genre Trouble: Reading the Old English Vita of Saint Euphrosyne.” Writing Women Saints in Anglo-Saxon England. Ed. Paul E. Szarmach. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. 121–39.

“Hegemony.” A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Studies. Ed. Jacqueline Stodnick and Renée R. Trilling. Critical Theory Handbooks. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 55–68.

Anonymous Interpolations in Ælfric’s Lives of Saints. Ed. Robin Norris. OEN Subsidia 35. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2011.

“Introduction.” Anonymous Interpolations in Ælfric’s Lives of Saints. Ed. Robin Norris. OEN Subsidia 35. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2011. 1–12.

“Resistance to Genocide in the Postmodern Beowulf.” Literature Compass 8 (2011): 435–8. Online.

“Reversal of Fortune, Response, and Reward in the Old English Passion of Saint Eustace.” Anonymous Interpolations in Ælfric’sLives of Saints. Ed. Robin Norris. OEN Subsidia 35. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2011. 97–117.

Papers Presented:

“Crossing Borders in Old English Hagiography,” Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland, University College Cork, October 2017.

“Interlace in the Hagiographic Archive,” Seafaring: An Early Medieval Conference on the Islands of the North Atlantic,” University of Denver, November 2016.

“The Sevenfold-Fivefold-Threefold Litany of the Saints in the Leofric Missal,” International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, Dublin, August 2013.

“Ælfric’s Litanies of the Saints,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, May 2013.

Graduate supervisions:

I welcome enquiries from students who may be interested in working with me, especially on a Masters Research Project or MA thesis.