Sian Echard


Research Classification

Literary or Artistic Work Analysis
Literary or Artistic Work Dissemination or Reception Contexts
Modes and Strategies of Dissemination
Media Types (Radio, Television, Written Press, etc.)

Research Interests

History of the Book
Medieval literature
Arthurian literature
Anglo-Latin literature
Manuscript studies
John Gower

Relevant Degree Programs



Master's students
Doctoral students
Any time / year round

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Time and Metaphor: Reading and Writing the Computus in the British Isles, 6001400 (2018)

No abstract available.

The Arthur of the March of Wales (2016)

“The Arthur of the March of Wales” explores the medieval Arthurian legend through the lens of the political boundary separating and combining the English and Welsh people. This border, I argue, is overwhelmingly responsible for the legend’s genesis and its most enduring features. This critical orientation breaks from the conventional organization and focus of Arthurian scholarship, which has meticulously segregated literary works about Arthur into independent traditions. These traditions forcibly map our modern conceptions of homogeneous imagined communities—nation states or linguistic heritage—onto literary texts which are themselves overwhelmingly inter-linguistic and comparative. My study, instead, reads Arthurian border works outside the disciplinary and nationalistic boundaries which have been erected upon them. As I argue, recognizing the Anglo-Welsh border as the preeminent origin for a substantial portion of the Arthurian corpus is important for how we understand the wider manifestations of the legend. However, the implications of this project reach beyond scholarly tradition. My study details how the Arthurian legend and the border serve similar cultural and political purposes throughout British history. Both Arthur and the Anglo-Welsh border are entities which hold a mutually reflexive position to Welsh, English, and Norman hegemony and ideology; they simultaneously shape and are shaped by the evolving conceptions of British identity on both sides of the border. Amid the clash of armies, the coexistence of peoples, and the clamor of courts, the Arthurian border continuously revealed and unraveled the ever-evolving “truths” of British culture. “The Arthur of the March of Wales” is a fresh, interdisciplinary intervention in our conception of the Arthurian legend and the national/disciplinary boundaries which have hitherto confined it.

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Families, Fictions, and Seeing Through Things: Re-Reading Langland, Chaucer, and the Pearl-Poet (2011)

This dissertation explores the generation of meaning in medieval texts and suggests ways in which we can regenerate that meaning by deploying medieval hermeneutic models. Unlike previous scholarship in this particular area, much of which focuses upon how scholasticism and the classical inheritance influenced medieval reading practices, this project brings together two relatively new theoretical models in order to re-evaluate our understanding of some well-trodden ground: the work of William Langland, Geoffrey Chaucer, and the Pearl-Poet. These two models are genealogy and thing theory – two perspectives which seem very different but which both resonate with medieval forms of understanding. This dual theoretical paradigm complicates our assumptions about how linear models functioned in the Middle Ages and highlights how the absence of meaning can be just as significant as its presence. The “thing,” both as concrete object and divine unknown, is an integral part of genealogy, in that the linear genealogical model is constantly on the edge of dissolution as its hidden histories threaten to disrupt its stability.In each of the four “case studies” in this dissertation I apply these models to my readings of different forms of textuality: literary tradition, the physical manuscript, and literary analysis. Langland’s poem Piers Plowman is a central component in each case study, largely because it refuses conclusions and resolutions. Its apparent transgression of genre, its unexpected turns, and its ability to be aligned with opposing ideologies make it a puzzle to the modern reader. It is, in many ways, an indefinable “thing.” Much of this project looks for such moments of “thingness” in order to explore alternate models of signification, and therefore Piers Plowman is ideal as the common thread connecting the different parts of my argument. Applying thing theory and the genealogical paradigm to the various works in this dissertation facilitates an exploration of issues such as authorship, community, individuality, and alterity and the role they play in medieval textuality. Increasing our awareness of how medieval reading practices diverge from modern ones surely enhances our understanding of how literature shaped medieval English culture – a culture which, in turn, shaped our own.

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News Releases

This list shows a selection of news releases by UBC Media Relations over the last 5 years.


  • Historians on John Gower (2019)
    D.S. Brewer,
  • Malory in Print (2019)
    A New Companion to Malory,
  • The Book in Britain (2019)
  • Palimpsests of Place and Time in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britannie (2017)
    Teaching and Learning in Medieval Europe: Essays in Honour of Gernot R. Wieland on his 67th Birthday,
  • Technologies in/ of Romance: De Ortu Waluuanii and Historia Meriadoci (2017)
    Handbook of Arthurian Romance: King Arthur's Court in Medieval European Literature,
  • The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain (2017)
  • How Gower Found His Vox: Latin and John Gower’s Poetics (2016)
    Journal of Medieval Latin,
  • The Naked Truth: Chaucerian Spectacle in A Knight's Tale (2016)
    Chaucer on Screen: Absence, Presence, and Adapting the Canterbury Tales,
  • Containing the Book: The Institutional Afterlives of Medieval Manuscripts (2015)
    The Medieval Manuscript Book,
  • The Long and the Short of it: On Gower's Forms (2015)
    John Gower in England and Iberia,
  • Expanding Horizons: Circuits of Manuscript Production, Circulation, and Influence: A Foreword (2014)
    New Directions in Medieval Manuscript Studies and Reading Practices: Essays in Honour of Derek Pearsall,
  • New Technologies: From Manuscript to Print (2014)
    Companion to British Literature,
  • Remembering Brutus: Aaron Thompson’s 1718 Translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britannie (2013)
    Arthurian Literature,
  • Whose History? Naming Practices in the Transmission of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britannie (2012)
  • Gower’s Triple Tongue (1): Teaching Across Gower’s Languages (2011)
    Approaches to Teaching the Poetry of John Gower,
  • The Arthur of Medieval Latin Literature (2011)
    University of Wales Press,
  • BOOM: Seeing Beowulf in Pictures and Print (2010)
    Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination,
  • Insular Romance (2010)
    The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English,
  • 'Whyche thyng semeth not to agree with other histories...': Rome in Geoffrey of Monmouth and his Early Modern Readers (2009)
    Arthurian Literature,
  • "But here Geoffrey falls silent": Death, Arthur, and the Historia regum Britannie (2009)
    The Arthurian Way of Death: The English Tradition,
  • Printing the Middle Ages (2008)
    University of Pennsylvania Press,
  • 'Seldom does anyone listen to a good exemplum': Courts and Kings in Torec and Die Riddere metter Mouwen (2007)
  • Of Dragons and Saracens: Guy and Bevis in Early Print Illustration (2007)
    Guy of Warwick: Icon and Ancestor,
  • Latin Arthurian Literature (2006)
    A History of Arthurian Scholarship,
  • 'For Mortals are moved by these conditions': Fate, Fortune, and Providence in Geoffrey of Monmouth (2005)
    The Fortunes of King Arthur,
  • A Companion to Gower (2004)
    D. S. Brewer,
  • Gower in Print (2004)
    A Companion to Gower,
  • Last Words: Latin at the End of the Confessio Amantis (2004)
    Interstices: Studies in Late Middle English and Anglo-Latin in Honour of A.G. Rigg,
  • The Book Unbound (2004)
    University of Toronto Press,
  • Gower’s ‘bokes of Latin’: Language, Politics and Poetry (2003)
    Studies in the Age of Chaucer,
  • "Hic est Artur": Reading Latin and Reading Arthur (2002)
    New Directions in Arthurian Studies,
  • Anglo Latin and its Heritage (2001)
  • Clothes Make the Man: The Importance of Appearance in Walter Map’s De Gadone milite strenuissimo (2001)
    Anglo Latin and its Heritage,
  • Dialogues and Monologues: Representations of the Conversation of the Confessio Amantis (2001)
    Middle English Poetry: Texts and Traditions in Honour of Derek Pearsall,
  • House Arrest: Modern Archives, Medieval Manuscripts (2000)
    Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies,
  • Designs for Reading: Some Manuscripts of Gower’s Confessio Amantis (1999)
  • Arthurian Narrative in the Latin Tradition (1998)
    Cambridge University Press,
  • Glossing Gower: In English, in Latin, and in absentia: The Case of Bodleian Ashmole 35 (1998)
    Re-Visioning Gower,
  • With Carmen’s Help: Latin Authorities in Gower’s Confessio Amantis (1998)
    Studies in Philology,
  • Pretexts: Tables of Contents and the Reading of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis (1997)
    Medium Aevum,
  • Map’s Metafiction: Author, Narrator and Reader in De nugis curialium (1996)
  • Of Parody and Perceval: Generic Manipulation in Peredur and Sir Perceval of Galles (1996)
    Nottingham Medieval Studies,
  • Iubiter et Iuno: An Anglo-Latin Mythographic Poem, edited from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 64 and British Library MS Cotton Vitellius E.xii (1994)
    Journal of Medieval Latin,
  • The Latin Verses in the Confessio Amantis (1991)
    Colleagues Press,

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