Michelle M Sauer
Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, English
- medieval studies; gender/queer theory; linguistics; paleography/manuscript studies; early Christianity
All office hours Spring 2021 will be held via Zoom.
Although I was born in California, I was raised in North Dakota from age 6 months on, and consider it my home state. My mother grew up on a farm in the middle of the state (Kidder County). My father was from the Punjab region of India. I was raised in Fargo and attended local Catholic schools, St. Anthony, Nativity, and Shanley, for grades K-12. (Yes, there were a few of us non-white people in ND in the 80s.)
I was always torn between my love of science and my love of old languages and literatures. I chose Purdue (in the middle of Indiana cornfields) for my undergraduate experience because I was a Physics major and they have a particle accelerator. When I made the switch to medieval studies, I was equally lucky because Purdue has a program in that as well. Pursuing my graduate education led me first to Chicago (lunch at the Sears Tower! Shedd Aquarium!), and then to the state of Washington (apples and lentils). Eventually, I ended up back home to North Dakota (wheat, more wheat, and sugar beets). My first job out of graduate school was as a professor at Minot State University, where I founded the state's first Gender Studies program. I was able to secure a position at UND in 2008, where I teach medieval literature, linguistics, and popular culture classes on medievalisms.
Outside of the university setting, I am married and have cats. I enjoy listening to Goth, Metal, and Industrial music, wearing black, being sarcastic, and playing video games. Oh, and of course reading books, preferably with a cat on my lap. Also, I like the winters here, and I'm a gourmet cook and a bit of an enophile.
Spring 2021 classes: Introduction to Linguistics & Young Adult Literature
*Linguistics is asynchronous online; YAL is remote delivery (Zoom)
Medieval Christian devotional literature, specifically anchorites and hermits, with a focus on women's literature and gender issues. Monasticism and monastic Rules. Hagiographies and saints' lives. Queer theology and applications. Medieval scribal and reading practices. Paleography, archival, and manuscript studies, especially Middle English and medieval Latin. Spatial and architectural criticism, particularly its intersections with gender and sexuality. Old Norse, including Icelandic, religion and literature. Critical race theory and the Middle Ages and its intersections with gender. History of Sexuality, especially female same-sex relationships. Historical linguistics, principally in relation to religious and gender issues.
Significant publications (see cv for complete list):
Encyclopedia of Medieval Global Women’s Writing, Editor-in-Chief Michelle M. Sauer (University of North Dakota), with Diane Watt (University of Surrey) and Liz Herbert McAvoy (Swansea University). Palgrave, ongoing online.
The Materiality of Middle English Anchoritic Devotion: Bodies and Objects. Co-edited with Jenny C. Bledsoe. ARC Humanities Press, 2021. [forthcoming]
Gender in Medieval Culture. (Key Themes in History) Bloomsbury, 2015.
How to Write About Chaucer. (Harold Bloom’s How to Write About Literature series) Chelsea House, 2009.
The Lesbian Premodern. Co-edited with Noreen Giffney and Diane Watt. Palgrave (New Middle Ages Series), 2011.
“Framing Materiality: Relic Discourse and Medieval English Anchoritism.” Early Middle English. 3.1(2021). [forthcoming]
“Amazed & Ravished in the Medieval Garden: The Space of Lesbian Desire.” In Gender, Science, and the Natural World, eds. Theresa Ryers and Patricia Skinner. University of Wales Press, 2021. [forthcoming]
“Lithic Agency and Generative Functions of Crystals in The Revelations of St Birgitta: Books 1 and 3.” In Beyond the Window: Devotion, Materiality, and Reclusion in Medieval Europe (1080 – 1400). Ed. Michelle M. Sauer and Joshua Easterling. Boydell & Brewer, 2022. [forthcoming]
“The Meaning of Russet: A Note on Vowesses and Clothing.” Early Middle English 2.2(2020): 91-97.
“Queer Time & Lesbian Temporality in Medieval Women’s Encounters with the Side Wound.” In Medieval Futurity. Ed. Christopher Michael Roman and Will Rogers. ARC Humanities Press, 2020. 199-219.
“The Function of Spiritual and Material Roads in the English Reclusive Tradition.” In Medieval Roads. Eds. Valerie J. Allen and Ruth Evans. Manchester University Press, 2015. 157-76.
“Divine Orgasm and Self-Blazoning: The Fragmented Body of the Female Medieval Visionary.” In Sexuality, Sociality and Cosmology in Medieval Literary Texts. Eds. Jennifer N. Brown and Marla Segol. Palgrave, 2013. 123-43.
“Devotional Literature: Performance & Performativity.” In The History of British Women’s Writing: Volume 1, 1350-1500. Eds. Diane Watt and Liz Herbert McAvoy. Palgrave, 2011. 103-111.
“Privacy, Exile, and the Rhetoric of Solitude in the Middle English Anchoritic Tradition.” The Rhetorics of Anchoritism. Ed. Liz Herbert McAvoy. University of Wales Press, 2008. 96-110.
“Audiotactility & The Medieval Soundscape of Parchment.” Sounding Out!: A Peer-Reviewed Sound Studies Blog (Special Issue on Medieval Sound) [October 17, 2016] <https://soundstudiesblog.com/2016/10/17/audiotactility-the-medieval-soundscape-of-parchment/>
“Extra-Temporal Place Attachment & Adaptive Reuse: The Afterlives of Medieval English Anchorholds.” Studies in Medievalisms XXV(2016): 173-96.
“Touching Jesus: Christ’s Side Wound & Medieval Manuscript Tradition.” Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon. A peer-reviewed blog. [January 2016] <http://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/medievalwomen/2016/01/05/touching-jesus-christs-side-wound-medieval-manuscript-tradition/>
“Architecture of Desire: Mediating the Female Gaze in the Medieval English Anchorhold.” Gender & History. 25.3(2013): 541-60.
“Uncovering Difference: Encoded Homoerotic Anxiety within the Medieval English Eremitic Tradition.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 19.1(2010): 133-52.
“‘Where are the Lesbians in Chaucer?’: Lack, Opportunity, & Female Homoeroticism in Medieval Studies Today.” The Journal of Lesbian Studies. 11.3/4(2007): 331-45.
“Representing the Negative: Positing the Lesbian Void & Medieval English Anchoritism.” thirdspace 3.2(2004): 70-88 [print], 26 par. [web]. <http://journals.sfu.ca/thirdspace/index.php/journal/article/viewArticle/sauer>
Upcoming presentations (see cv for previous ones):
Plenary Address. Title TBA. [topic: post-medieval anchorites] Co-presented with Liz Herbert McAvoy. International Anchoritic Society Conference. Cranford, NJ. August 2022.
Plenary Address. Title TBA. [topic: desire & sexuality in medieval religion] Southeastern Medieval Association Conference. Spartanburg, SC. October 2021. [pending pandemic stabilization]
“Queer Temporality: Modern and Medieval Fragments of Sexuality & Spirituality.” To be presented at the International Medieval Conference. Leeds, UK. July 2021.
“‘The spikenard of your virginity’: Scent & Taste in the Anchorhold.” To be presented at the International Medieval Congress. Kalamazoo, MI. May 2021.
“Hot Water and the Masculinization of Guðrun.” To be presented at the International Medieval Congress. Kalamazoo, MI. May 2021.
“Topic TBA.” To be presented at the Northern Plains Conference on Early British Literature. Dordt, IA. April 2021.
- Awarded Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship, UND, 2020.
- Recipient of Thomas J. Clifford Faculty Achievement Award for Individual Excellence in Research, UND, 2016.
- Best Reference Text of the Year. Awarded by Booklist. Companion to British Poetry before 1600. 2008.
- LGBT-Religious Archives Network prize, December 2005. For: “Representing the Negative: Positing the Lesbian Void & Medieval English Anchoritism.”
- Women of Distinction Award (Professional category). YWCA. 2005.
- The Lesbian Pre-modern (co-edited with Diane Watt & Noreen Giffney), nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2011.
- Secondary Education Teacher Certification (grades 5-12) [State of Indiana license]
PhD Washington State University 2000
MA Loyola University Chicago 1995
BA Purdue University 1993
University of North Dakota: Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor (2020-present), Professor of English (June 2011-present); Associate Professor of English (August 2008-June 2011); Women/Gender Studies Affiliate (2008-present)
Minot State University: Associate Professor of English (July 2005-July 2008); Assistant Professor of English (August 2000-June 2005)
President, International Anchoritic Society
Steering Committee, Medievalists of Color organization
Executive Board, Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages
Series Editor. Exploring Sex, Gender, and Identity in Medieval Europe. Trivent Publishing. <http://www.trivent-publishing.eu/seriesandjournals.html>
Editorial Board, New Queer Medievalisms, Medieval Institute Publications <https://wmich.edu/medievalpublications/books/new-queer-medievalisms>
Managing Editor, Medieval Feminist Forum (June 2004-May 2009); Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship
I am cat obsessed. Currently, I own two lovely purebred felines: a silver Egyptian Mau (named Gawain) and a champage point Tonkinese (named Hadwisa). I have never been without a cat during my entire life. In fact, I had a gorgeous Burmese (named Jezebel) as my babysitter when I was a baby! Throughout the years, I have had several Siamese (seal point, flame point, and lavender point), a couple Himalayans, and even a Persian. As you can probably guess, I like to own fancy cats--but I love each and every feline out there no matter its color and breed. Some even call me "the cat whisperer."
I am a very active scholar, and always have numerous projects in progress. However, my three most significant undertakings right now are:
1. Finalizing an interactive Arc GIS map of the anchorholds of the Northwest Atlantic. I have been working on this project since 2015, and am nearing completion of the trial run.
2. Completing an electronic, searchable database of the extant manuscripts of the works of St Birgitta of Sweden. This project is in cooperation with David Carrillo-Rangel (University of Bergen).
3. An examination of scribal annotations and reading practices in St Birgitta of Sweden's Revelations.
I also have several edited collections, a special issue or two of various journals, and various monographs in progress.