Hello, and welcome to my site! I’m Dr. Melissa “Melle” Ridley Elmes, Assistant Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Lindenwood University.
I specialize in the medieval period, focusing on post-Conquest through late-15th century British literatures and cultures with particular emphasis on the Middle English, Anglo Norman, Celtic, and Norse traditions. My research and teaching interests include Arthuriana; Chaucer; Robin Hood/outlawry; medieval and early modern romance, chronicle, dream vision, mystic and devotional literary genres; women and gender studies, particularly women’s literate practices; alchemy, magic, and esoterica; monsters and the supernatural; hagiography; cultural and historical studies (feasts and feasting; disasters and delights; violence in medieval texts; chivalry and courtliness; dreams and dreaming; landscapes and the environment; medieval afterlives); comparative literature; manuscript studies/ text technologies and history of the English language.
I am trained as an interdisciplinary literary historian, and as a scholar I am interested in the relationships between texts and the cultures that produce them, and invested in the ways in which cross-temporal approaches and multiple methodologies can be used in tandem to create a more focused and nuanced lens on a single subject. To that end, I make use of theoretical paradigms and methods from English, History, Art History, Anthropology, Culture/ Material and Gender Studies, among others, in my research and writing. My current book project, “Negotiating Violence at the Feast in Medieval British Texts,” showcases my ability to synthesize multiple critical lenses into a study focused on close, comparative, and critical textual readings and analysis.
I have taught a broad range of courses both face-to-face and online, including the Global Arthurian legend, Chaucer, Heroes and Monsters from Beowulf to Hellboy, Medieval Afterlives, Literary Alchemy, genre studies, writing courses, the first half of British and World literature surveys, and the History of the English Language. Drawing on a background that includes training in Art History, History, and romance and Germanic languages, I am dedicated to interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to the study of medieval texts and artifacts. My literature students consider questions of authorship, readership and audience, language, and interpretation, and are trained to read literary texts in companionative fashion alongside contextual materials like maps, primary source documents including letters and inventories, manuscript evidence, and artworks and architecture.
Last but by no means least, I am a writer of academic prose and of fiction and poetry.
This site includes pages featuring my teaching philosophy and a list and description of courses I have taught, current research projects, publications, service and community outreach efforts, and a blog that is intended to serve as a record of my experiences in the classroom first as a student, and then as a teacher/researcher/writer and new professor. It is my hope that the blog in particular will become a resource for graduate students seeking to enter and successfully navigate and complete advanced degrees; for other new professors at the start of their careers; for teachers and instructors seeking interesting and different ways to approach the work of teaching; and for anyone with interests in medieval studies, in academia, in teaching, or in writing.