Dr James Robert Knowles

Picture of Dr James Robert Knowles

Teaching Associate Professor

  • Email: jrknowle@ncsu.edu
  • Phone: 919-513-0228
  • Address:
    Tompkins Hall 287, Box 8105
    NCSU Campus
    Raleigh, NC 27695


CHASS Outstanding Lecturer, 2016


Jim Knowles works on late medieval and early modern English literature, history, and theology. His book-in-progress examines the language of service in several Middle English texts, notably Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Langland's Piers Plowman, and the Revelation of Love by Julian of Norwich. He plans to expand this project chronologically into the sixteenth century, asking what happens to the vocabulary of service and its metaphorical projections when we move across the Reformation divide.

Professor Knowles also has an interest in historical visualization and the use of technological resources to bring the medieval past to life in new and innovative ways, both as a teacher and as a scholar. He is the co-creator, with Michal Koszycki (Princeton University), of the Oxford Friars Project, which virtually reconstructs the lost buildings of the Franciscan and Dominican orders in medieval Oxford and sets these ambitious building projects in the context of English antifraternal literature.

Jim Knowles is Managing Editor for the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive and Executive Secretary of the Society for Early English and Norse Electronic Texts (SEENET). With Timothy Stinson, he is editing a parallel text of the three earliest printed editions of Piers Plowman, printed by the Protestant activist Robert Crowley in 1550.




"Ghastly Vignettes: Pierce the Plowman's Crede, the Ghost of Shakespeare's Blackfriars, and the Future of the Digital Past." Essay contibuted to Meeting the Medieval in a Digital World, eds. M. Davis, T. Rose-Steel, and E. Turnator (Arc Humanities Press, forthcoming 2018). https://arc-humanities.org/products/m-77101-108100-39-7752/

Review of Andrew Cole and Andrew Galloway, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Piers Plowman. The Medieval Review 16.09.36 (2016). https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/22682.

“Langland’s Empty Verbs: Service, Kenosis, and Adventurous Christology in Piers Plowman.” Yearbook of Langland Studies 28 (2014).

With Timothy Stinson. “Special Report: The Piers Plowman Electronic Archive on the Web.” Yearbook of Langland Studies 28 (2014).

“Piers Plowman.” New Catholic Encyclopedia: Supplement 2011: Arts and Literature (Gale Group, Cengage Publishing, 2011).

“Can You Serve? The Theology of Service from Langland to Luther.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 40.3 (2010).

“Great Houses Make Not Men Holy: Mendicant Architecture in Medieval Oxford” (with Michal Koszycki). 2010. Animated film. Available for viewing at http://oxfordfriars.wordpress.ncsu.edu.


"Piers Plowman and Langland Studies: Where Are We Now?" Session organizer and chair. International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2017.

“The Undeparted: Chaucer’s Fart and Julian’s Treasure.” New Chaucer Society, London, UK. July 2016.

“Is There a Text in This Field? Middle English Canonical Texts and the Edition of Record.” Session organizer and chair. International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2016.

“Medieval Texts and Digital Environments.” Session organizer and moderator. International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2015.

“What a Difference a Plate Makes: Langland’s Christ-Knight and Incarnational Habitus.” Invited session paper. International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2015.

“Parchment with All the Trimmings: Virtual Skin Grafting and the Reconstruction of the Medieval Manuscript Page.” New Chaucer Society, Reykjavik, Iceland. July 2014.

“Medieval Texts and Digital Editions: Obstacles and Opportunities.” Session organizer and moderator. International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2014.

“Ghastly Vignettes: Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, the Ghost of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars, and the Future of the Digital Past.” Triangle Medieval Studies Seminar, Durham NC. Nov. 2013.

“Servys and Plesaunce: Margery Kempe and the Pleasure of Serving.” Leeds International Medieval Congress, Leeds, England. July 2013.

“Langland’s Empty Verb.” International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2013.

“Do What You Can, Even Though You Can’t: A Lutheran-Augustinian Reading of Pearl’s Vineyard Parable.” International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2012.

 “English Reformations: Historiography, Theology, Narrative.” Roundtable discussion, Duke Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, September 2011.

“Sumptuous Edifices: Fraternal Architecture and Anti-Fraternal Literature in Medieval Oxford.” Invited session paper. Leeds International Medieval Congress, Leeds, England, July 2011.


Courses Taught at NC State: 

ENG 582: Romance and Repentance (Graduate)

ENG 582: Medieval Women Writers (Graduate)

ENG 551: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Graduate)

ENG 510: Mystics, Prophets, Dreamers (Graduate)

ENG 498: Dante’s Commedia (Independent study)

ENG 491: English Honors Seminar

ENG 490: Mystics, Prophets, Dreamers

ENG 452: Studies in Medieval Literature

ENG 451: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

ENG 449: Sixteenth-Century Nondramatic Literature

ENG 394: Heaven and Hell: Literary Visions of the Afterlife

ENG 394: The Pilgrimage of Life

ENG 394: Medieval Women Writers

ENG 390: Classical Backgrounds of English Literature

ENG 261: British Literature Survey I

ENG 251: Major British Authors

ENG 221: Literature of the Western World I

HON 293: Islands in the Stream (University Honors seminar)


  • PhD in English from Duke University
  • BA in English from Davidson College