Kathleen Davis


Kathleen Davis received her Ph.D. 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 CEMS (Colloquium for Early Medieval Studies), 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. Additionally, Davis was principal Investigator for URI’s NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD Planning Grant, “Humanities at Large,” in 2016.


Medieval Studies; Translation Studies; Issues of Periodization and Secularism


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

Courses Taught

Cultural History of the English Language (ENG 432)
British Authors (ENG 486)
Evolution of the English Language (ENG 332)
Topics in Medieval Literature (ENG 381)
Introduction to Literary Study (ENG 202)
Literatures of the World (ENG 160)
Medieval and Renaissance Authors (ENG 382)

Introduction to Professional Study I and II (ENG 510/511)
Methods of Teaching Literature (ENG 999)
Literary Periods (ENG 610)
Special Topics (ENG 660) (multiple topics)

Curriculum Vitae