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Brandon Hawk

Craig-Lee Hall (CL) 149​
(401) 456-8675

Academic Background

B.A., Houghton College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Connecticut

With a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Connecticut (2014), I joined the RIC English Department in 2015. My fields of expertise are Old and Middle English, Old Norse, history of the English language, digital humanities, the Bible as/in literature, translation, and the history of the book. Most of my interests in research and teaching encompass what might be called transmission studies: the afterlives of texts, including circulation, translations, adaptations, and representations in various cultures and media.

My book Preaching Apocrypha in Anglo-Saxon England was published in 2018 by the University of Toronto Press, as part of the Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series. This book is an examination of Christian apocrypha in Anglo-Saxon England, focused specifically on the use of these extra-biblical narratives in Old English sermons. Throughout this study, I challenge normative assumptions about the use of non-canonical gospels, acts, and apocalypses in preaching texts by suggesting that they are a substantial part of the apparatus of Christian tradition inherited by Anglo-Saxons. I explore uses of apocrypha as, on the one hand, hermeneutic in expanding and explaining biblical and doctrinal knowledge, and, on the other hand, ideological responses to local pedagogical needs. While these texts have been marginalized in scholarship, I argue that they are part of a corpus of orthodoxy that speaks to a plurality of beliefs and practices in Anglo-Saxon culture. Situated in relation to the general pervasiveness of apocrypha, Old English sermons should be understood as participating in the widespread transmission of Christian materials in the period. These Old English sermons are not isolated, but part of more general cultural trends. I account for the broader prevalence of apocrypha by studying Old English sermons as significant witnesses to Anglo-Saxon religious attitudes within a wider media network encompassing the afterlives of texts, manuscripts, and visual arts. In other words, I argue that extra-biblical media did not merely survive on the margins of culture, but thrived at the heart of mainstream Anglo-Saxon Christianity.

My translations of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary are set to be published by Cascade Books in the Early Christian Apocrypha Series. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew is one of the most important witnesses in Western Europe to apocryphal stories about the lives of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and Mary’s parents, Anna and Joachim. This apocryphon was also used as the basis for another, the Nativity of Mary, which gained equal popularity. As bestsellers of medieval Christianity, these Latin apocrypha are major witnesses to the explosion of extra-biblical literature in the Western Middle Ages. Despite their apocryphal status, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and Nativity of Mary proved influential throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, as their popularity and influences may be traced in Christian literature, visual arts, liturgy, and theological perspectives still revered by Roman Catholic theologians. These apocrypha also remain significant works for considering the history of monasticism and the cult of the Virgin Mary. This book draws upon a range of manuscript sources to present comprehensive English translations of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and Nativity of Mary with full introductions and commentaries, as well as translations of related works with accompanying commentaries.​

I also love Star Wars. I’ve recently collaborated with Dot Porter at the University of Pennsylvania on a series of videos titled Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away–all about the connections between Star Wars and medieval manuscripts. You can see more about the series here, and you can find the playlist for the videos here.

You can learn more about me on my website and blog about teaching and research at​.

Courses Taught

ENGL 120 Studies in Literature and Identity
ENGL 121 Studies in Literature and Nation
ENGL 122 Studies in Literature and the Canon
ENGL 123 Studies in Literature and Genre
ENGL 201 Literary Studies: Analysis
ENGL 205 British Literature to 1700
ENGL 347 Literatures of Medieval Britain
ENGL 345 Shakespeare: Histories and Comedies
ENGL 346 Shakespeare: Tragedies and Romances
ENGL 432 Studies in the English Language
ENGL 460 Seminar in Major Authors & Themes: Medieval Multimedia
ENGL 501 Introduction to Graduate Study
ENGL 530 Topics in British Literature before 1660: Medieval Multimedia​

Publications​Cover - Preaching Apocrypha in  Anglo-Saxon England


The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary, Early Christian Apocrypha Series (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, forthcoming).

Preaching Apocrypha in Anglo-Saxon England, Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series 30 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018).​

Selected Publications:

“A History of the Study of Apocrypha in Anglo-Saxon England,” forthcoming in Bulletin for the Study of Religion.

“Modelling Medieval Hands: Practical OCR for Caroline Minuscule,” co-authored with Antonia Karaisl and Nick White, forthcoming in Digital Humanities Quarterly​.

“Prosthesis: From Grammar to Medicine in the Earliest History of the Word,” Disability Studies Quarterly 38.4 (2018): open access here.

“The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, the Rule of the Master, and the Rule of Benedict,” Revue Bénédictine 128.2 (2018): 281-93.

“The Fifteen Signs before Judgment in Anglo-Saxon England: A Reassessment,” JEGP 117 (2018): 443-57.

“The Literary Contexts and Early Transmission of the Latin Life of Judas,” Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 44 (2018): 60-76.

“Ælfric’s Genesis and Bede’s Commentarius in Genesim,” Medium Ævum 85 (2016): 208-16.

“Psalm 151 in Anglo-Saxon England,” Review of English Studies n.s. 66 (2015): 805-21.

See more about my publications here.​​​​

Page last updated: March 06, 2019