Dinshaw, Carolyn

Carolyn Dinshaw

Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis

Carolyn Dinshaw is a Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English, and has just completed a successful term as chair of SCA. Dinshaw received her PhD in English Literature from Princeton, and her BA from Bryn Mawr College. She has been interested in the relationship between past and present ever since she began to study medieval literature. Her 1982 dissertation, subsequently published as Chaucer and the Text in 1988 (Garland Press), explored the relevance of new critical modes for older literature, while in her 1989 book, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (University of Wisconsin Press), she investigated the connection of past and present via the Western discursive tradition of ideas about gender. In her ground-breaking book, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (Duke University Press, 1999), which studied a wide range of thinkers from Margery Kempe to Roland Barthes, she insisted on the importance of connections to the past in contemporary literature, culture, and community formation. In her most recent book, How Soon is Now? Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time (Duke University Press, 2012), she looks directly at the experience of time itself, as it is represented in medieval works and as it is experienced by readers of those works.

In the early 1990s, along with classicist David M. Halperin, Dinshaw founded GLQ, a flagship journal of gay and lesbian studies.  She has served as president of the New Chaucer Society, and has held several distinguished fellowships, including the Stanford Humanities Center and the Australia Research Council. She has won the John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, the Distinguished Editor Award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, and the MLA Crompton-Noll Prize.

In the classroom, Dinshaw regularly teaches materials past and present, in courses ranging from “Medieval Misogyny” to “Queer New York City.”  Making the most of her joint appointment in English and SCA, she has been instrumental in bringing together undergraduates to pursue topics across disciplinary lines. Her reputation among undergraduates – she has consistently received outstanding feedback from her students – attests to her commitment to supporting creative thinking and excellent writing.