Emily Mahan

Emily Mahan


MA in Medieval Literatures, University of York, 2013; MFA in Poetry, University of Michigan, 2008; BA in Linguistics, University of Washington, 2004

Year of Matriculation




Areas of Interest

Medieval literature, fables, animal studies


Fables—stories featuring talking animals—were highly popular in both Latin and vernacular traditions during the Middle Ages. The patently fictional nature of ascribing animal characters verbal discourse, as well as frequent meta-commentary to the effect that the animals are there to entertain readers while a deeper lesson is imparted, has meant that fables have largely escaped sustained scrutiny as sources for understanding nonhuman animals in medieval thought. My dissertation, supervised by Professor Tim Machan, examines medieval fable collections (such as the elegiac Romulus and the works of Marie de France and Robert Henryson) from an animal studies perspective, arguing that they reveal otherwise unobtainable insights into human-animal relationships precisely because they are sites of counterfactual thinking.

Recent Scholarly Activity

  • Editor of Diplomatics: The Science of Reading Medieval Documents by Federico Gallo, University of Notre Dame Press, 2020
  • Review: Alchemy, Medicine, and Commercial Book Production, by Alpo Honkapohja, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 2020
  • Duffy Fellow, 2018-19
  • Conference Presentations: “Visual Pragmatics of a Multilingual Manuscript: The Scribe’s Stance,” New Chaucer Society Congress, University of Toronto (July 2018) and "Voices of the Vulnerable: Power and Persuasion in Robert Henryson's Moral Fables." International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (May 2018)