News & Events


Please note that the following sessions for today have relocated:

9:00- 10:30

3I LITERATURE AND LATE MEDIEVAL SCIENCE is now in Emmanuel College room 108.

3J THE MEANING OF RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE is nw in Victoria College room 211.



General reminders:

  • You can pick up your registration package in the foyer of the Victoria College building at the University of Toronto.
  • You must wear your name tag while at the conference; only those who have registered will be admitted to sessions and events.
  • If you would like to purchase tickets fothe Friday night's performance of Chaucer's Miller's Tale: Wahala Dey O!, you can do so HERE.


Thank you to the Program and Local Committees for all the work they have done to put on what it sure to be an excellent conference!

Return of the NCS Mentorship Program

The NCS Trustees warmly invite all members of the Society to participate, if they wish, in the second iteration of a mentoring program (begun at the London Congress in 2016) at the upcoming Toronto Congress in July 2018, either as a mentor or as a mentee. The scheme is designed to help graduate students and anyone new to the Society to meet more established scholars in order to feel welcomed and supported during the congress, and also to make or develop professional contacts. We especially welcome participation by students and scholars of historically underrepresented groups. Those who would like to receive mentoring or serve as a mentor should register online using the form below. Shazia Jagot ( Sierra Lomuto (, and Tom Hahn ( will coordinate the exchanges for 2018.

The intent of the mentorship exchanges is for experienced scholars (at any stage of their career, including senior graduate students) to welcome and connect with newer members of the Society and to help facilitate social and professional interaction.   In particular, NCS recognizes documented gaps in the graduate recruiting, tenure-track hiring, and promotion and tenure reception of underrepresented groups within academia; the Society is therefore especially eager to encourage first-generation students, medievalists of color, trans and Gender Non-conforming students and scholars, and other members historically underrepresented in higher education to participate in the mentorship program. 

Like many NCS members, we are aware of and troubled by the ways in which the medieval period is currently being used for racist ends, for example by the alt-right and associated groups. It is important for all of us in medieval studies to take active stock of this and to ponder effective and lasting responses to these issues. Mentors and mentees might wish to raise the topic in the course of their exchanges at the Congress:  here are some resources to help inform that conversation:

Medievalists of Color -
Race and Medieval Studies: A Partial Bibliography -
TEAMS Featured Lesson Resource Page on Race, Racism and the Middle Ages (compiled by Carol L. Robinson) -

The initial extent of the commitment would be for mentees and mentors to meet for a conversation at an agreed-upon time during the conference in question. The continuation of the mentor relationship after the conference is at the discretion of the parties involved.

We will try to make the best match based upon the information provided below. Please do mention specific requests that are not covered: we are unlikely to have thought of everything! If any mentor would be willing to lead a group for dinner one evening at the congress, please could you let us know under ‘Other’?



NCS PODCAST - Episode 2

Tune in for NCS Postdoctoral Fellow producer and host R.D. Perry's conversation with Geraldine Heng (University of Texas at Austin) regarding her new book, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages (2018).


Electronic Travel Authorization - NCS Toronto 2018

Dear member

If you're going to our Congress #ncs18 in Toronto in July, and you are British (or other nationalities, I expect), or have a British passport and US Green Card, you need to get Electronic Travel Authorization to travel to Canada. It is relatively quick and painless, costs $7 CAD, and is all done online. (Thank you to Elaine Treharne for link.)

Best wishes


NCS PODCAST - Episode 1

With NCS Postdoctoral Fellow producer and host R.D. Perry, Ruth Evans (Saint Louis University) and Sylvia Tomasch (Hunter College, CUNY) discuss the history of the New Chaucer Society (including the founding of the original Chaucer Society under Frederick James Furnivall).


Professor John Anthony Burrow Obituary

John Burrow, who died at the age of 85 on 22 October, 2017, brought new grace and sensitivity to the understanding of medieval English literature, and was one of the most influential scholars of his generation. The earliest of his many classic studies, published in 1965, provided an interpretation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that remains standard today. His other books illuminated all the great poets of the period, in particular Chaucer, Gower, Langland, the Gawain-poet, and Hoccleve. He wrote with clarity and wit, and had no time for the narrow professionalism that characterises so much academic writing. Always judicious and perceptive, he was attentive to small detail, for example opening our eyes, as one might say, to the significance of winking in medieval texts.

John began his academic career in 1955 as an assistant lecturer at King’s College, London. As a fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, from 1961, he collaborated with his friends John Carey and Christopher Ricks to breathe fresh life into the stuffy English syllabus. His teaching, which I was privileged to enjoy for three years, combined academic rigour with humour and insight, and not least, extraordinary patience. His writings of the period represent a new invigorating critical approach. The first of his many studies of Piers Plowman, ‘The Action of Langland’s Second Vision’ (1965), which had begun life as part of an uncompleted postgraduate thesis, reveals brilliantly how the poet shaped this part of his narrative. It has recently been described as ‘one of the most influential essays ever written on the poem’. Ricardian Poetry (1971) still underpins our understanding of Middle English literature, with its penetrating analysis of the features that define the late fourteenth century as a literary period.

He spent a year as Visiting Professor at Yale University (1968-9), but Yale could not persuade him to leave England, and in 1976 he took up the Winterstoke Chair at Bristol University, where he served for many years as Head of Department and subsequently Dean of the Faculty, always acting with a humanity and generosity that did not necessarily chime with the priorities of university management. During this period, his publications, including
Medieval Writers and their Work (1982, 2008), The Ages of Man (1986), and Langland’s Fictions (1993), continued unabated, despite his time-consuming duties. From 1983 to 2006 he served as Honorary Director of the Early English Text Society, and in 1986 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy.

Chaucerians will remember with particular affection a little essay as perfect as the poem it so brilliantly analyses, ‘An Agony in Three Fits’, reprinted with other pieces on Sir Thopas in Essays on Medieval Literature (1984). John’s second collection, English Poetry in the Late Middle Ages (2012), includes the fine ‘Vituperations in Chaucer’s Poetry’, as well as several essays on Gower and Hoccleve. Not yet published is a charming essay ‘What was Chaucer Like?’, comparing the self-portraits with those by Hoccleve and Lydgate.

He was an accomplished editor, beginning with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for Penguin (1972), followed by the anthology English Verse 1300-1500 (1977). When we edited A Book of Middle English (1992, 1996, 2005) together, I learnt that he had a remarkable ear for Middle English idiom, always avoiding the traps that the rest of us fall into, always coming up with exactly the right equivalent in modern English. His edition of Thomas Hoccleve’s Complaint and Dialogue for the Early English Text Society (1999) boldly restored the text based on the forms established in the poet’s holographs. We worked together on an electronic text of Piers Plowman in which we attempted to recover the B-Version archetype (2014), depending heavily on the team at the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, in particular Hoyt Duggan. Sadly, John never saw this edition since he never got around to mastering the internet.

He regretted having to retire in 1998, missing the teaching he so much enjoyed, as well as the collegiality of the department. He kept himself active by writing non-stop. To this period belong the monographs Gestures and Looks in Medieval Narrative (2002), and The Poetry of Praise (2008), and a stream of essays, particular on Langland. In addition, he always responded with thoughtfulness and care to the many requests for assistance from young scholars, though he steadfastly refused to use email.

John’s wife was the celebrated children’s fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones. Their house in Clifton was always lively and full of visitors. He was left bereft by Diana’s death in 2011. Sadly, for a man who loved walking, the polio from which he had suffered as a boy caught up with him in later life, and he became increasingly disabled. Though he could no longer leave the house, he accepted his confinement with remarkable stoicism, and continued writing and publishing prolifically, leaving his last essay, almost completed, on his desk at his death.

He is survived by his sons Richard, Michael and Colin, and by five grandchildren.

John Anthony Burrow, born 3 August, 1932, died 22 October, 2017.

Thorlac Turville-Petre

NCS Toronto 2018 Graduate Student Workshop

The New Chaucer Society is now accepting applications for spots in the Graduate Student Workshop at the 2018 Congress in Toronto.

The Graduate Workshop is a day-long session for graduate students and recent PhDs attending the 2018 Congress. Current students and PhDs who earned their degrees on or after July 1, 2016 are welcome to apply. The Workshop is open to students with no formal training and limited experience with manuscripts. It will take place on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, to be followed by a reception Toronto’s Fisher Rare Books Library on the evening of Friday, July 13.

If you would like to attend the Workshop, please send an email to Kara Gaston ( along with a brief outline of your PhD topic and a short CV. Places will be given in preference to those who have NOT attended a Workshop before; please state in your email if you have attended a Workshop in the past. Those who have been offered a place on the Workshop are also eligible to apply for the Donald Howard Travel Scholarship. Please submit separate applications to both the Howard Scholarship and the Graduate Workshop.

The deadline for applications for both the Workshop and the Donald Howard Travel Scholarships is December 15, 2017. Applicants for the Workshop will be chosen and notified before the decisions about the Howard Scholarships are made.

Now Open: Applications for the Donald Howard Travel Scholarship Fund

The New Chaucer Society supports the participation of graduate students and recent PhDs who do not have a tenure-track or equivalently secure position through its Donald Howard Travel Scholarship Fund. The Society aims to ensure that all eligible members receive financial assistance that will help them attend the biennial Congress, though actual awards will be dependent on the funds available in any given cycle and funding cannot be guaranteed for all applicants.

Active members of the New Chaucer Society are eligible to apply if they have had a presentation accepted for the official program, are organizing a session that has been accepted for the program, or have been admitted to the Graduate Workshop; and if they are: a) graduate students enrolled in an MA or PhD program; or b) recent graduates of a PhD program whose defense took place not more than two years before the date of the Congress, who do not have a tenure-track academic job.

The awards committee will assess applicants according to:

  • individual financial need: applicants and their supervisor or a referee will be asked to describe the funding available to them from other sources for participation at the Congress.
  • level of involvement at the Congress: the extra costs faced by those attending the Graduate Student Workshop will be taken into account. Constraints on the Howard Fund may make it impossible to support students who are only attending the Graduate Student Workshop; it may be an advantage to such students to have had a presentation accepted.
  • previous support from the Howard Fund: applicants who have not received funding in the past will have priority. However, students or recent PhDs who have received support in the past are still eligible for funding.

The merit of an applicant’s proposed presentation will not be a factor in allocating funds; the committee will assume that any paper or presentation accepted by the program committee has merit. 


NCS is now accepting applications. Applicants should indicate their academic affiliation and place within their degree program (second year MA, ABD, etc.) In a short statement (about 300 words), they should

  • Describe the nature of their project, its relation to their ongoing research, and their likely date for completing their degree;
  • Indicate whether or not they have received previous funding through the Howard Fund from NCS; and 
  • Indicate what other funding is available to them for attendance at the biennial Congress.

Please send the above information as a single document to Ruth Evans at

Applicants should arrange for their advisor (if they are enrolled in a graduate program) or a referee (in the case of recent PhDs) to submit a letter to Ruth Evans at endorsing their work, and, where appropriate, affirming their good standing within their own programs.  This letter should also address the availability to the applicant of funding for travel and lodging from sources other than NCS.