Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America

Elizabeth Fowler

Associate Professor


Ph.D. Harvard

A.M. Harvard

A.B. Brown


Elizabeth Fowler is a literary scholar with a background in architectural practice. Her book project, The Flesh of Art: Poetry and the Built Environment, is nearing completion and she is working on the material culture of prayer, a project stimulated by teaching “world prayer” and “world heritage” in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas on several academic voyages around the world. Her work concerns language in the context of other cultural practices; Literary Character (Cornell, 2003) considers how literary representations of the person draw upon those in law, philosophy, and economics. She is a General Editor of the Oxford Collected Works of Edmund Spenser (in progress), for which she makes a penitential pilgrimage with Prof. Victor Luftig to teach “literature and place” in Galway and Dublin, Ireland, most years during January term. She works with undergraduate and graduate students in medieval and early modern literature; lyric and narrative poetry in English across time (especially Chaucer, Spenser, Heaney); literature and architecture; the history of English landscape; theories of spatiality, material culture, devotional poetics, book history, feminism, political thought. She has an abiding interest in what people do with poems in real places.


  • Teaching with the Norton Anthology of English Literature: A Guide for Instructors, with Sondra Archimedes, Laura Runge, and Philip Schwyzer, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011
  • Literary Character, Cornell University Press, 2003



  • The Oxford Edition of the Collected Works of Edmund Spenser, General Editor (one of five); a five-volume critical edition, two classroom texts, and an electronic archive (Oxford University Press, in preparation) (Editor)


  • “The Duchess and the Cadaver: Doubling and Microarchitecture in Late Medieval Art” in Personification: Embodying Meaning and Emotion, ed. Bart Ramakers and Walter Melion (Brill, 2016), 575-600
  • “Acoustic Delay: Body Technique in the Hortus Conclusus” in Sound and Scent in the Garden, ed D. Fairchild Ruggles (Cambridge: Harvard-Dumbarton Oaks, 2016), 31-51
  • “The Proximity of the Virtual: A. C. Spearing’s Experientiality (or, Roaming with Palamon and Arcite)” in Readings in Medieval Textuality: A Celebratory Excursion for A. C. Spearing, ed. Cristina Cervone and D. Vance Smith (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2016), 15-30
  • “Art and Orientation,” New Literary History 44 no. 4 (Autumn 2013), 597-618
  • “Elegy” with Gordon Braden and “Personification” in The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Roland Greene (Princeton University Press, 2012), 397-99, 1025-27
  • A Vewe of the Presente State of Ireland (1596, 1633)” in The Oxford Handbook of Spenser Studies, ed. Richard McCabe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 314-32
  • “Towards a History of Performativity: Sacrament, Social Contract, and The Merchant of Venice” in Medieval Shakespeare, ed. Curtis Perry and John Watkins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 68-77
  • “Return to the Word Hoard” in What Should I Read Next?, ed. Jessica Feldman and Robert Stilling (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 190-92
  • "Shylock’s Virtual Injuries," Shakespeare Studies 34 (2006).
  • "Macbeth and the Rhetoric of Political Forms" in Shakespeare and Scotland, ed. Willy Maley and Andrew Murphy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).
  • "Chaucer and the Elizabethan Invention of the ‘Selfe’ " in Approaches to Teaching Shorter Elizabethan Poetry, ed. Patrick Cheney and Anne Lake Prescott (MLA, 2000).
  • "The Ship Adrift" in "The Tempest" and its Travels, ed. William H. Sherman and Peter Hulme (Reaktion Books, 2000).
  • "The Romance Hypothetical: Lordship and the Saracens in Sir Isumbras" in The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance, ed. Jane Gilbert and Ad Putter (Longman, 2000).
  • "The Empire and the Waif: Consent and Conflict of Laws in the Man of Law’s Tale" in Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry, ed. David Aers (D. S. Brewer, 2000).
  • "The Rhetoric of Political Forms: Social Persons and the Criterion of Fit in Colonial Law, Macbeth, and The Irish Masqve at Covrt," in Form and Reform in Renaissance England: Essays in Honor of Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, ed. Amy Boesky and Mary Thomas Crane (University of Delaware Press, 2000).
  • "Chaucer’s Hard Cases" in Medieval Crime and Social Control, ed. Barbara A. Hanawalt and David Wallace (University of Minnesota Press, 1999).
  • "The Afterlife of the Civil Dead: Conquest in The Knight’s Tale" in Critical Essays on Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Thomas C. Stillinger (G.K. Hall, 1998).
  • "Civil Death and the Maiden: Agency and the Conditions of Contract in Piers Plowman," Speculum (1995).
  • "The Failure of Moral Philosophy in the Work of Edmund Spenser," Representations (1995).
  • "Misogyny and Economic Person in Skelton, Langland, and Chaucer," Spenser Studies (1992); reprinted in Derek Pearsall, ed., From Chaucer to Spenser: A Critical Reader (Blackwell’s, 1999)
  • "Authenticity and Corporate Forms in the Imagination of Feminism," in Harvard Women’s Law Journal (1991).


  • “Nurseries of Body Techniques,” interviewed in three parts by Phyllis Odessey, Director of Horticulture, Randall’s Island Park Alliance, New York, at
  • “Living Literature: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” with Clare Kinney and A. C. Spearing, WTJU, Charlottesville, VA, October 2013
  • Invited guest, National Public Radio, “On Point With Tom Ashbrook,” on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, trans. Simon Armitage, 9 October 2007.
  • “Elizabeth Fowler Describes Spenser Project,” UVa Today Video, 14 December 2007.
  • Architect of a series of custom and spec residences in Massachusetts and Virginia, 1984-2006
  • The Hi Sheriffs of Blue, a collaboration with the painters George Condo and Mark Dagley and the sculptor Seth Weinhardt; reviewed by The New York TimesVillage VoiceNew Musical Express (UK); performances in New York at the Mudd Club, CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, Tier 3. Electric bass guitar, keyboard, backing vocals.

______, NYC 1980, LP, vinyl and CD, Feeding Tube Records, Easthampton, MA, 2014

______, “Cold Chills, part 1 and 2,” Roller Skate Records, 1981, rpt. 2012

______, “Ain’t But Sweet 16,” “My Big Vacation,” 7”, Roller Skate Records, 1980, rpt. 2002

______, “Hi Sheriffs of Blue,” 12” compilation, Jimboco Records, 1982

______, “Cold Chills,” 7”, Tweet Records, 1981.


  • Visiting Faculty, The Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies, London, England, 1997.
  • Isabel MacCaffrey Prize, International Spenser Society, 1997.
  • Yale’s Poorvu Prize for Interdisciplinary Teaching (with Christy Anderson, History of Art), 1997.
  • Junior Fellow, The Society of Fellows, Harvard University, 1991–1993, 1994–1995.
  • American Council of Learned Societies International Travel Grant, 1994.
  • Whiting Fellow, 1990–1991.
  • Harvard’s Danforth Distinction in Teaching Prize, 1990.
  • Frances A. Yates Fellow, The Warburg Institute, University of London, 1989.
  • Fulbright Scholar, London, England, 1989–1990.


Teaching with the Norton Anthology of English Literature


The Project of Prose in Early Modern Europe and the New World


Literary Character