Rita Copeland

Professor of Classical Studies and English
Sheli Z. and Burton X. Rosenberg Professor of Humanities
Contact Information
Office Address: 
266 Cohen Hall
(215) 898-7425
(215) 898-6568
Email Address: 

Ph.D. (Comparative Literature) University of California, Berkeley
M.A. (Comparative Literature), University of California, Berkeley
B.A. (Comparative Literature), University of California, Berkeley

Research and Teaching Interests: 

Medieval literature (English, Latin, French)
Intellectuals, learning, and literacy in medieval Europe
Literary theory from ancient to early modern
History of rhetoric from ancient to early modern

Selected Publications: 

The Cambridge Companion to Allegory, ed. with Peter Struck (2010).

Medieval Grammar and Rhetoric: The Language Arts and Literary Theory, AD 300 to 1475, ed. with Ineke Sluiter (2009).

Pedagogy, Intellectuals, and Dissent in the Later Middle Ages: Lollardy and Ideas of Learning (2001).

Criticism and Dissent in the Middle Ages (1996).

Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts (1991; rpt. 1995). 

"Pathos and Pastoralism:  Aristotle's Rhetoric in Medieval England" 


Recent Courses: 

(undergraduate) History of Literary Theory (Ancient to Modern); Ancient and Medieval Epic and Romance; Prison Narratives from Ancient to Modern.
(graduate) Chaucer's Classicisms; Piers Plowman; Introduction to Literary Theory Medieval Education; Premodern Rhetorics

Brief Biography: 

I work across a number of fields and periods, including: medieval literature (English, Latin, French); intellectuals, learning, and literacy in medieval Europe; literary theory from ancient to early modern; the history of rhetoric from ancient to early modern. Usually my teaching combines my interests in antiquity and the Middle Ages-or how the Middle Ages understood antiquity.  My newest projects are The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature 800-1558, and a study of the emotions and rhetoric in the Middle Ages.   I was a founding editor of the annual New Medieval Literatures ), and I am co-editor, with Jill Ross, of Toronto Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Rhetoric, a new book series from Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.