Claire Waters

Claire Waters's picture

Position Title
Professor of English

164 Voorhies
Office Hours
Mondays 4–5 (except 4/15), Thursdays 11–12 (except 4/4, 5/9 and 5/23), and by appointment

Currently Teaching:

  • 240 - Medieval Literature


Claire Waters started teaching at Davis in 2001 and has also taught at the University of New Mexico and the University of Virginia. Her work focuses on medieval religious literature and culture, from saints' lives and preaching to doctrinal handbooks and miracles of the Virgin Mary, with a particular interest in the relationship between teachers and learners, between the audiences of sermons and religious writings and the creators of those works. Her first book, Angels and Earthly Creatures: Preaching, Performance, and Gender in the Later Middle Ages (Penn, 2004) examined the intermediary role of the preacher and how ideas about women and femininity helped to shape male preachers' view of their role; she has also published a critical edition and translation of four Middle English saints' lives that were probably composed at the Brigittine Abbey of Syon in the mid-fifteenth century (Virgins and Scholars: A Fifteenth-Century Compilation of the Lives of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Jerome, and Katherine of Alexandria, Brepols, 2008). Her most recent monograph, Translating Clergie: Status, Education, and Salvation in Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Texts (Penn, 2016), looks at French works from England and the continent that aim to transmit "basic" religious teaching in the vernacular, often in verse, and that represent the relationship and dialogue between teacher and learner in ways that make the role of student newly available to laymen and laywomen. In 2018 she published a facing-page edition and translation of the Lais of Marie de France for Broadview Press and in 2023 a volume of essays, Mystics, Goddesses, Lovers, and Teachers: Medieval Visions and Their Modern Legacies. Studies in Honor of Barbara Newman, co-edited with Steven Rozenski and Joshua Byron-Smith. She serves as a General Editor for the Broadview Anthology of British Literature and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Brepols series Medieval Women: Texts and Contexts. 

Education & Interests:

  1. Ph.D. in Comparative Literary Studies, Northwestern University, 1998
  2. M.Phil. in English, Cambridge University, 1993
  3. A.B. in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1991