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University of Maryland English Professor to Lecture at W&L

Kellie Robertson, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 31, at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House. This is the new date, time and place of her lecture which was canceled due to snow.

The title of Robertson’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Bawds and ABAWDs: Able Bodies in Historical Perspective.”

The talk will examine the early history of how and why the term “able-bodied” became a category for the working poor, whose bodies have been subject to emphatic scrutiny and regulation in the name of multiple common goods in mid-14th century England. Robertson then documents the continuing effects of these early cultural and legal formations, tracing their influence up through current U.S. state policy.

Robertson teaches medieval literature and intellectual history; her research and teaching are premised on the idea that a return to this earlier intellectual history can help us to better understand our own modern desires and philosophical commitments.

Robertson is the author of “The Laborer’s Two Bodies: Labor and the ‘Work’ of the Text in Medieval Britain, 1350-1500” (2006) which explores textual and material responses to the first national labor laws. Also, she is the co-author of a collection of essays entitled “The Middle Ages at Work: Practicing Labor in the Late Medieval England” (2004).

Her current book project, “Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Natural Philosophy,” examines late medieval poetry in the context of medieval physics, arguing that both domains struggled over how to represent nature in the wake of Aristotelian science.

Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center.

Robertson earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. from Yale University. At the University of Maryland, she serves as the director of graduate placement for the English department.