Holly A. Crocker

Professor of English at the University of South Carolina

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
May–December 2011

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»The Reformation of Feminine Virtue from Chaucer to Shakespeare«

Project outline:
My current book project, The Reformation of Feminine Virtue from Chaucer to Shakespeare, answers a central question: what did it mean for a woman to be called »virtuous« in premodern England? By examining works by authors including Chaucer, Fletcher, Henryson, Lodge, Lydgate, Shakespeare, and Spenser, I consider the challenge literary representations pose to the prescriptive femininities promoted by conduct manuals between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. Women might have been told to be chaste, silent, and obedient, but literary heroines of the same period were strong, vivacious, and autonomous. The central difference, I suggest, emerges from contrary ideas concerning virtue’s relation to habit: the ethical habitus of conduct books involves repetition and mimesis, while that of literary plots requires intelligence and independence. By resisting virtue’s normative reduction, poets not only produce more lively characters, but also imagine worlds where women might fully inhabit ethical excellence. (Holly A. Crocker)

During her time at the Institute, Holly Crocker will be working with Susanne Scholz (Professor of English Literature and Culture, Frankfurt University) and Andreas Kraß (Professor of Medieval Literature, Frankfurt University).

Scholarly profile of Holly A. Crocker

Main areas of research:
Medieval und early modern literature, gender studies, aesthetics

Selected publications:
  1. Ed., with D. Vance Smith: Middle English Literature: Criticism and Debate, London: Routledge (under contract).
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  3. »›As false as Cressid‹: Virtue Trouble from Chaucer to Shakespeare«, in: Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies , Vol. 43, No. 2 (2013), pp. 303-334.
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  5. »Communal Conscience in William Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man«, in: Exemplaria, vol. 24, Nos 1-2 (2012), pp. 143-160.
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  7. »The Tamer as Shrewd: Domestic Tyranny in John Fletcher's Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tam'd«, in: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 50,2 (2011), p. 127–144.
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  9. »Engendering Shrews, Medieval to Early Modern«. in: Gender and Power in Shrew-Taming Narratives, 1500–1700, ed. by David Wootton and Graham Holderness, London: Palgrave Macmillan 2010, p. 48–69.
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  11. Chaucer’s Visions of Manhood, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
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  13. Ed., Comic Provocations: Exposing the Corpus of Old French Fabliaux. Studies in Arthurian and Courtly Cultures, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Institutional affiliations:
rnModern Language Association (Chaucer Division Executive Committee, 2010-2015), New Chaucer Society (Program Committee, 2010-2012), Shakespeare Association of America, Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, Early English Text Society


rnFulbright Senior Fellowship at Frankfurt University, May‒December 2011