Dr. Stephanie Clark specializes in Early Medieval British literature and is current Director of the Medieval Studies Program and Director of Undergraduate Studies for English.
Her book, Compelling God: Theories of Prayer in Anglo-Saxon England (University of Toronto Press, 2018) examines the way that early English authors write about prayer and argues that the way they thought about prayer was fundamentally informed by the way they practiced gift-exchange. Bede, Alfred, and Ælfric, all prominent figures of the period, understood prayer not as a spontaneous “conversation with God,” but as a formal, ritualized enactment of a gift-giving relationship inflected by social models of petition and lordship that form and express particular models of personhood.
For her current project, “Valuable Things,” Dr. Clark is particularly interested in the way understandings of personhood are built into exchange practices, ideas of value, and the relationship between persons and things. She seeks to discover what economic language can tell us about early medieval understandings of personhood and economic thought: metaphors of exchange in theological writing, the connection between money and human life in in early medieval literature, and the many ways humans could be “bought” and exchanged (slavery, marriage, fosterage), and how such exchanges affect their status as moral, legal, and social persons.
Dr. Clark is currently co-editing a book with Shannon Godlove and Janet Schrunk Ericksen, “Sources of Knowledge: Studies in Old English and Latin Literature in Honour of Charles D. Wright,” to be published with Brepols. This essay collection traces how ideas move across cultures and shows how studying sources enables us to represent the diversity of medieval voices embedded in any given text. They position source studies within a range of theoretical and methodological approaches as varied as disability studies, feminist theory, history of science, and network analysis.
Dr. Clark also regularly teaches courses in the Old English language, medieval literature in translation, and grammar.