Dr. Jeanne Provost teaches and writes on late medieval literature, with a special interest in ecocriticism and animal theory. She received her B.A. in English from Carleton College, where she discovered a lasting enthusiasm for liberal arts education. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara under the co-direction of L. O. Aranye Fradenburg and Carol Braun Pasternack. Before coming to Furman, Dr. Provost taught ecocritical approaches to medieval literature as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She joined the Furman English Department and became an affiliate faculty member with the Shi Center for Sustainability in 2011. She is the author of "Sovereign Meat: Reassembling the Hunter King from Medieval Forest Law to The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle" and an essay in process, "How Do You Care for Your Horse? The Wife of Bath, the Living Land, and the Erotic Undoing of Ownership." Her current book project explores diverse representations of human sovereignty over the land in medieval literature and law.

Name Title Description


Texts and Meaning

An introduction to the study of the structures and methods by which texts create and convey meaning. Texts and approaches will be determined by individual instructors, but all emphasize reflective, critical reading, as well as text-centered discussions and written assignments.


Interpretive Strategies

Addressing issues and questions specific to literary and cultural analysis and in the process exploring various interpretive strategies through which ideas of the literary and of literary study are engaged. The content and perspective of this course will vary according to instructor. Students will read primary theoretical texts, and will write about how theories of literature might inform ways of reading prose, poetry, drama, and/or film. By the end of the term, students should have a sense of how over the years critical debate has shaped the many practices of reading literature.


British Literature to 1798

A broad survey, covering the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Authors studied include: Chaucer, Spenser, Donne, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Behn,Pope, Swift, Johnson, Wollestonecraft, and Wordsworth. Required essays test students' abilities to employ the standard concepts of literary analysis.


Fantasy & Science Fiction

Exploration of how race, colonialism, gender, science, the sacred, and the human inform our fantasies about other worlds and times. May trace dialogue between contemporary fantasy/science fiction and literature of other periods.


Late 14th Century English Lit

Readings in major works of medieval English literature, from Beowulf to Malory. A substantial part of the course is devoted to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.


Animals in the Middle Ages

Explores medieval literature about animals, humans' historical relationships with other animals, philosophical discussions of the idea of the animal


Medieval Arthurian Literature

Study of the earliest tales of King Arthur and his knights. Course focuses on medieval European literature but may include one contemporary version. Authors include Chr´┐Żtien de Troyes, the Gawain poet, Malory, and others.


Senior Seminar in English

Course topic changes with each offering.


Medieval Forests

The hideout of Robin Hood, the den of the werewolf, and the refuge where the adulterous Lancelot flees in madness, the forests of medieval fiction are anarchic spaces where magic or spirituality often overrules human law, and renegade knights, religious mystics, and fantastic beasts hold sway. In real medieval forests, by contrast, industry flourished, the king's law could be brutal, and elite hunting rights reminded peasants of their place. Why did medieval writers nevertheless imagine the forests of fiction as outside of society and law? How did literary representations of the forest influence actual medieval forest laws, and vice versa? And how does the fiction of forests as illicit, sacred, or magical places still shape our use and understanding of forests today? Reading a variety of medieval literary and legal texts about the forests, such as Christian mystical visions, Arthurian romances, Robin Hood tales, Breton lais, bestiaries, and selections from medieval forest trials. Alongside these medieval texts, engaging contemporary ecological criticism and animal theory to discover how the history of Western representations of the forests can deepen our understanding of today's environmental debates.

University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Kentucky
Carleton College

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