Jane Chance - Doctor of Letters

May 2013  


Jane Chance

Jane Chance 
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Dr. Jane Chance graduated with a bachelor's degree from Purdue in 1967 with highest distinction and honors in English, then completed an AM and a PhD in English at the University of Illinois-Urbana by 1971. Now the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor Emerita of English at Rice University in Houston, she has taught medieval literature, medievalism, and the study of women and gender there from 1973 — when she became the first tenure-track woman to teach in her department — until 2011. She also taught at the University of Saskatchewan-Saskatoon and was an honorary research fellow at University College, University of London.

Chance specializes in medieval mythography, or the reception of classical myth in the Middle Ages, medieval women and medievalism and has published 22 books and more than 100 articles, reviews and poems — many of them reprinted. Her studies include The Genius Figure in Antiquity and the Middle Ages; The Mythographic Art: Classical Fable and the Rise of the Vernacular in Early France and England; a translation of Christine de Pizan's Letter of Othea; The Mythographic Chaucer: The Fabulation of Sexual Politics; two volumes on the history of medieval mythography — the first of which won a South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA) best book award — and an edition of the Middle English poem The Assembly of Gods. 

Other books include Woman as Hero in Old English Literature, the collections Gender and Text in the Later Middle Ages and Women Medievalists and the Academy, and The Literary Subversions of Medieval Women, which received another SCMLA book award. She has published six books on Tolkien and has appeared in two films, National Geographic's Behind The Lord of the Rings and Ringers: The Lord of the Fans. Her essay The Structural Unity of Beowulf: The Problem of Grendel's Mother appeared in print in seven different venues. 

She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Guggenheim Foundation, a residency at Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio, membership at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a visiting research fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. She directed an NEH summer seminar in 1985 and an institute for college teachers in 1997; delivered plenary and guest lectures throughout the world; and edited three book series. A former member of the advisory board of Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, she also has served on the editorial boards of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies and College Literature. 

In 2012, she coedited, with her neuroscientist son, a guest issue of the postmedieval journal focused on cognitive alterities/neuromedievalism. She is completing the third volume of Medieval Mythography on Italian humanism. At the International Conference on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in May 2013, she will be honored for her life's work during a symposium sponsored by the Medieval Foremothers' Society.

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