John P. Sexton

Welcome! I’m an associate professor of English Literature at Bridgewater State University, where I’ve taught since 2007. My teaching tends to cover the medieval period rather broadly, which is a pretty good match for my somewhat eclectic research interests. I am fortunate to be doing something I enjoy for a living, and part of that is constantly uncovering new texts to think about and new areas of my field in which to work.

When I’m not teaching, writing, grading, reading, or otherwise working, I make a podcast called Saga Thing, buy more books than I can afford, read histories, tinker in my basement, play trivia-based games, watch occasional sports (except for the NFL, which I watch religiously), and spend my time with my wife Heather, our sons Carl and John, and our dog Mercatilla.


Ph.D. in Medieval Studies     University of Connecticut     2007

M.A. in Medieval Studies     University of Connecticut     2000

B.A. in Liberal Arts     Goddard College     1996

Research and Teaching Interests

Anglo-Saxon Literature; British Literature of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, 600-1649AD; Chaucer and the 14th century; Church History to 1600; Hagiography; Icelandic Sagas; Medieval Disability Studies.

Courses Taught at Bridgewater State University

  • British Literature from Beowulf to 1800
  • British Literature since 1800
  • First Year Seminar: Presidential Elections–Issues and History
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Graduate Topics in Literature: The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer
  • History of the English Language
  • Literary Themes: The Hero’s Journey
  • Literature and the Apocalypse
  • Medieval British Literature
  • Sagas of the Icelanders
  • Second Year Seminar: Tolkien, Lewis, and the Oxford Inklings
  • Seminar in British Literature and Culture: Medieval Dreams and Visions
  • Seminar in British Literature and Culture: Medieval Literature and the Law
  • Seminar in British Literature and Culture: Medieval Outlaws
  • Shakespeare’s Histories and Comedies
  • Works of William Shakespeare
  • Writing I
  • Writing II


  •  “The Icelandic Sagas as a Subject for Undergraduate Study.” This Rough Magic 3:1. June 1, 2012.
  • “Difference and Disability: On the Logic of Naming in the Icelandic Sagas.” in Disability in the Middle Ages: Reconsiderations and Reverberations. Ed. Joshua R. Eyler. London and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010. 149-163
  • “In Praise of the Saints: Introducing Medieval Hagiography into the British Literature Survey.” This Rough Magic 1:2. August 15, 2010.
  • “The Miller’s Tale, ll.3466-3499:  Narrative Inconsistency and the First Fragment of The Canterbury Tales.” (w/ Joshua R. Eyler). ANQ 21.3 (2008), 2-6.
  • “Saint’s Law: Anglo-Saxon Sanctuary Protection in the Translatio et Miracula S. Swithuni.” Florilegium 23.2 (2008, for 2006), 61-80.
  • “Once More to the Grove: A Note on Symbolic Space in the Knight’s Tale.” (w/ Joshua R. Eyler). ­­The Chaucer Review 40 (2006), 433-439.

Selected Recent Papers Presented

  •  “How to Live an Intellectual Life Online Without Really Trying” and “Medieval Disability Studies and the Digital Age.” 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2014.
  • “Understanding Egil: Genealogy, Disability, and Character in Egils saga Skallagrímssonar.” Invited Lecture. Fitchburg State University. Fitchburg, MA. October 2013.
  • “How (and Why) to Run an Undergraduate Sagas Course” and “Challenges in Introducing Disability Studies into the Classroom.” 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2013.
  • Dame Sirith and the Subversion of Sexual Conquest.” 28th Annual Meeting of the Medieval Association of the Midwest. Cincinnati, Ohio. September 2012.
  • “Medieval Disability Studies in the College Classroom.” 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2012.
  •  “‘…þat loue-werc’: Dame Sirith, Cougar for Hire.” 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2012.
  • “ ‘Hung all over with crutches’: Teaching the disabled figure in Anglo-Saxon Hagiography.” 46th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2011.
  •  “ ‘What Can This Dead Man Do?’: Land, Law, and the Occasional Dead Claim-Jumper in the Northumbrian cult of St. Cuthbert.” 2010 New England Medieval Conference. Storrs, CT. November 2010.
  •  “Who’s Afraid of the Beowulf? The Anglo-Saxon Hero as a Modern Movie Monster.” 18th New England Popular Culture Association Conference. Queens, New York. October 2009.
  •  “Spiritual Tokens and the Devil’s Documents: Intercessory Protection in Ælfric’s Lives of the Saints.” 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2009.
  •  “Impairment, Disfigurement, Disability: Naming Onund Tréfótr in Grettir’s saga.” 30th Medieval and Renaissance Forum. Plymouth State University. Plymouth, New Hampshire, April 2009.
  •  “The Law of the Land in the Anglo-Norman Hagiography of St. Cuthbert.” 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2008.
  •  “Haliwerfolc: The Saint as Landlord in Medieval England.” 10th Medieval Studies Outreach Seminar. Storrs, Connecticut. March 2008.
  •  “‘Weigh it but with the grossness of this age’: Shakespeare and the Destruction of Sanctuary.” 42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2007.
  • “Taking True Counsel from False Friends: Can Bad Films Teach Good Lessons about Medieval Literature?” PCA/ACA 2007 National Conference. Boston, Massachusetts. April 2007.

Current Projects

  • ” Who’s Afraid of the Beowulf?: Teaching the Anglo-Saxon Hero in the Shadow of Modern Film.” (article).
  • “‘What Can This Dead Man Do?’: How an Anglo-Saxon Saint Became An Anglo-Norman Landlord.” (article).
  • “Constructing Egill Skallagrímsson.” (article).
  • Dame Sirith’s Subversion of the Fabliau Game of Sexual Conquest.” (article.)
  • Collection of articles on teaching Old Norse Literature to undergraduates.

Sports Teams

Pro: New England Patriots, New York Mets, Boston Bruins.

College: UConn Huskies, BSU Bears.

5 responses to “John P. Sexton

  1. Joseph Pritchard

    I’m writing a research paper in Andrew Pfrenger’s Icelandic Saga class. I’m using your Difference and Disability article as reference. Having a disability, myself, I’m fascinated by the subject in context to all historical periods. Keep up the good work!

  2. Pingback: Saying Goodbye to Medieval Studies (for now, at least) | A Lifetime's Training

  3. Good to see you online at last!

  4. Cynthia Miska ?-

    Sexton! There you are…
    -Cindy Miska (now Bacon) MLHS 92

  5. Pingback: Saga Thing: Putting the Sagas of Icelanders on Trial – Fjörn's Hall

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