department of english

114 Swan Hall, 60 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI 02881

Main Office: 401.874.5931 - Graduate Office: 401.874.4663

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Kathleen Davis

  • Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
  • Medieval Studies; Translation Studies; Issues of Periodization and Secularism
  • Phone: 401.874.2016, Office: 109 Swan Hall
  • Email:


Kathleen Davis received her PhD in English and Medieval Studies from Rutgers University, where she found encouragement to work across disciplinary boundaries. She has worked in the fields of Old and Middle English literature, translation studies, and postcolonial criticism. Most recently, her engagement with colonial histories and postcolonial theory led her to examine the periodizing process that gave us the categories of the “medieval” and the “modern,” and to investigate the relation of that process to colonial rule. She is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time; and co-editor, with Nadia Altschul, of Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of “the Middle Ages” Outside Europe. Professor Davis is continuing her work in this area with two book projects. The first, tentatively titled “The Fold of Periodization,” examines the structure of periodization; reassesses the historiography of the idea of the Middle Ages; and traces the role of medieval/modern periodization in the formation of academic disciplines. The second, which Davis began while a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, focuses on the relationship between medieval/modern periodization and the idea of a “secular” versus a “religious” society, particularly as this idea affects contemporary politics.

Professor Davis’s essays on Old English literature and on Chaucer appear in a numerous journals and edited collections, and include a strong focus on translation. Her work on Old and Middle English translation led her to an interest in translation theory more generally. She is the author of Deconstruction and Translation, as well as articles on translation theory and the history of translation.

Professor Davis is a co-founder of the ASSC (Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium), an organization dedicated to fostering exchange among faculty and graduate students interested in the language, literature, and culture of early medieval England.

Davis was honored to be a recipient in 2008 of a Newberry Library NEH Fellowship, and with Membership in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2010. She also received the University of Rhode Island College of Arts and Sciences Research Excellence Award, and the University if Rhode Island Faculty Research Excellence Award for Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities, both in 2013.


  • Ph.D., Rutgers University
  • M.A., Villanova University
  • B.A., Villanova University

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