Associate Professor of English
Associate Chair, Department of English
University Hall Room 315
Telephone: (847) 491-3368
Fax: (847) 467-1545
A medievalist with Early Modern leanings, Susie Phillips (Ph.D., Harvard University) teaches courses on late medieval and Early Modern book culture, medieval literature and culture (with an emphasis on the representation of sin and confession, heresy, and rebellion), drama, Shakespeare, and Chaucer. In her scholarship as well as her teaching, she is interested in the materiality of the book—how texts were produced, published, circulated, and read. She has published essays on late medieval pastoral practice, Renaissance dictionaries, gossip theory, and medieval multilingualism. Her first book, Transforming Talk: The Problem with Gossip in Late Medieval England (Penn State 2007) explores the religious, cultural, and literary work of "idle talk" in late medieval England. Gossip's supposedly idle words, she argues, are transformative; they blur the boundaries between people, discourses, genres, and religious and cultural practices.
Her current project, entitled Polyglots and Pocketbooks, traces the cultural history of the dictionaries, phrasebooks, and guides to conversations that flooded the European marketplace from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Standing at the intersection of the textual, the social and the historical, these little bestsellers taught readers not only how to conjugate verbs and negotiate with foreign merchants, but also how to insult neighbors and chat up chambermaids in up to eight different languages. Professor Phillips is a recent recipient of the Weinberg College of Arts and Science Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities Fellowship..