Lisa H. Cooper

Associate Professor
7135 Helen C. White Hall
E-mail Lisa H. Cooper
Late medieval literature, material culture, literary theory

Degrees and Institutions

Ph.D., English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

B.A., English and Art History, Amherst College

Selected Recent Publications

  • Ed., with Andrea Denny-Brown. The Arma Christi in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture, with a Critical Edition of 'O Vernicle' (by Ann Eljenholm Nichols). Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2014.
  • "Recipes for the Realm: John Lydgate's 'Soteltes' and The Debate of the Horse, Goose, and Sheep." In Essays on Aesthetics in Medieval Literature in Honor of Howell Chickering. Ed. John M. Hill, Bonnie Wheeler, and R.F. Yeager. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2014. 194-215.
  • "Crafting Memory." Middle English Literature: Criticism and Debate. Ed. Holly Crocker and D. Vance Smith. New York and London: Routledge, 2014. 183-91.
  • Artisans and Narrative Craft in Late Medieval England. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Ed., with Andrea Denny-Brown. Lydgate Matters: Poetry and Material Culture in the Fifteenth Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
  • “‘His guttys wer out shake’: Illness and Indigence in Lydgate’s ‘Letter to Gloucester’ and Fabula duorum mercatorumStudies in the Age of Chaucer (2008): 303-34.
  • “Making Space for History: Galbert of Bruges and the Murder of Charles the Good,” in Place, Space, and Landscape in Medieval Narrative, ed. Laura L. Howes (University of Tennessee Press, 2008), pp. 1-36.
  • “The Poetics of Practicality,” in 21st-Century Approaches to Literature: Middle English, ed. Paul Strohm (Oxford, 2008), pp. 501-14.
  • “Bed, Boat, and Beyond: Fictional Furnishing in La Queste del Saint Graal,” Arthuriana 15.3 (2005): 26-50.

Research Interests

Medieval literature, especially twelfth-to-fifteenth-century English and French romance; the poetry of Chaucer, his contemporaries, and successors; English cycle drama; Latin and vernacular historiography; English and European travel narrative; medieval material culture (especially the intertwined history of labor, technology, and commerce); the formation of urban identity; lexicography; and the history of the book.

Current Projects

My first book (Artisans and Narrative Craft, Cambridge 2011) examines images of artisanal practice across a wide range of medieval genres.  I am starting a second book on the relationship of medieval fictional narrative and didactic literature in the later Middle Ages (tentatively entitled The Poetics of Practicality).


At UW-Madison I frequently teach "Literature and Culture 1" (English 241), a foundational course in exciting works from the Middle Ages through the early eighteenth century, as well as classes on Chaucer and his fifteenth-century inheritors, medieval drama, medieval romance, and medieval travel narrative. I have also been known to teach a course called "How-To Texts of the Middle Ages" focused on that most complicated and interesting of Middle English poems, William Langland's Piers Plowman. I would like to teach a class called "Medieval Things," and another on The Game of Thrones

Recent Books

  • The Arma Christi in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture

    Lisa Cooper and Andrea Denny-Brown, eds.

    Ashgate Publishing Co.


    The arma Christi, the cluster of objects associated with Christ's Passion, was one of the most familiar iconographic devices of European medieval and early modern culture. From the weapons used to torment and sacrifice the body of Christ sprang a reliquary tradition that produced active and contemplative devotional practices, complex literary narratives, intense lyric poems, striking visual images, and innovative architectural ornament.
  • Book Cover for "Artisans and Narrative Craft"

    Artisans and Narrative Craft in Late Medieval England

    Lisa Cooper

    Cambridge University Press


    Lisa H. Cooper offers new insight into the relationship of material practice and literary production in the Middle Ages by exploring the representation of craft labor in England from c.1000-1483. She examines genres as diverse as the school-text, comic poem, spiritual allegory, and mirror for princes, and works by authors both well-known (Chaucer, Lydgate, Caxton) and far less so. 

  • Book Cover for "Lydgate Matters"

    Lydgate Matters: Poetry and Material Culture in the Fifteenth Century

    Lisa Cooper & Andrea Denny-Brown, Eds.

    Palgrave Macmillan


    This collection re-evaluates the work of fifteenth-century poet John Lydgate in light of medieval material culture. Top scholars in the field unite here with critical newcomers to offer fresh perspectives on the function of poetry on the cusp of the modern age, and in particular on the way that poetry speaks to the heightened relevance of material goods and possessions to the formation of late medieval identity and literary taste.