Deeply committed toward the project of expanding the traditional parameters of medieval literary study, I approach medieval literatures and cultures through sense perception as a transcultural category of analysis. Working primarily across Middle English, Latin, and Classical Chinese, I draw from medieval philosophical, theological, and scientific traditions (ranging from Christian Neoplatonism to Quanzhen Daoism) as frameworks for understanding cultural contact in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
My current book project, Into Sensation: A Sensory History of Mongol Imperialism (1206–1368), pulls from the field of sensory history—the study of the senses as sociohistorical constructions—to apprehend how experiences of the “global” via contact with the Mongols modify “local” epistemological regimes. Through sensory history I develop a global Middle Ages methodology that is both decentered and combinative; that is, I use the senses to demonstrate the dynamic interconnections between regional and “global” histories. An essay adapted from the first chapter of Into Sensation, titled “Occluded by Smoke: Eyewitness Narratives of the 1241-1242 Mongol Invasions,” was awarded the 2022 Scholars of Colour Essay Prize and is forthcoming in New Medieval Literatures.
As an educator, I encourage students to engage with the medieval through similarly combinative and open-ended encounters. I emphasize the classroom as a safe space to confront the medieval past—and our assumptions of it. Ultimately, I use the medieval to guide students toward the present, encouraging them to draw connections between medieval and modern social structures (of race, gender, class, religion).