Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

Edward Wheatley


  • Office Location: Crown Center 455
  • Phone Number: 773.508.2254
  • E-mail: ewheatl@luc.edu


I have two major research interests: the history of the book in the medieval and early modern periods, and disability in medieval literature and culture. My first book, Mastering Aesop: Medieval Education, Chaucer, and His Followers, was an examination of the most common curricular collection of medieval Latin fables which was used as a teaching text from the thirteenth into the sixteenth centuries; it exists in over 150 manuscripts and was printed 50 times before 1500. Studying this text took me to 36 libraries across Europe and the United States, and the wide variety of forms in which it appeared and scholarly commentary associated with it sparked my on-going research in manuscript and early print history. My interest in disability studies grew out of the Aesop project, because medieval commentaries on the fables frequently used the anti-Semitic trope of the blindness of the Jews. While researching that trope I came to understand that figurative language of this kind can only have meaning if it is grounded in the ways that medieval cultures understood blindness as a disability. The project allowed me to examine representations of blindness in history, art history, religious discourse, drama, and literature, and this research resulted in Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability. I have taught book history at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and disability in medieval literature as a graduate seminar, and I am continuing to work in both fields.


  • BARhodes College
  • MA, Medieval Studies, University of York
  • MA, English, University of Virginia
  • PhD, English, University of Virginia

Program Areas

  • Medieval English and Continental Literature and Culture
  • History of the Book to 1800
  • Disability Studies
  • Paleography and Manuscript Studies
  • Textual Studies and Digital Humanities

Research Interests

  • Medieval British Literature
  • Anglophone Literatures
  • Literature and Identity
  • Drama and Performance


  • Recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies for research on Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability

Selected Publications


  • Emotions, Communities, and Difference in Medieval Europe: Essays in Honor of Barbara H. Rosenweinco-edited with Maureen C. Miller (Routledge).
  • Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability (University of Michigan Press).
  • Mastering Aesop: Medieval Education, Chaucer, and His Followers (University of Florida Press).

Articles and Book Chapters:

  • “Monsters, Saints, and Sinners: Disability in Medieval Literature,” in The Cambridge Companion to Disability and Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 17-31.
  • “The Religious Model” and “Associations of Sin and Disability”  in Dis/ability History der Vormoderne – Ein Handbuch, ed. Cordula Nolte et al. (Didymos-Verlag, 2017), 67-69 and 354-55.
  • “Rereading the Story of the Widow of Ephesus in the Middle Ages and Renaissance,” Comparative Literature Studies 51.4 (2014), 627-43.
  • Response to four essays on “Chaucerian and Post-Chaucerian Reading Practices,” in New Directions in Medieval Manuscript Studies and Reading Practices: Essays in Honor of Derek Pearsall, eds. K. Kerby-Fulton, J.J. Thompson, and S. Baechle (University of Notre Dame Press, 2014), 359-62.