As a medievalist, my work focuses on English literature in its North Sea context. This means that I work primarily on Old English poetry, but that I often compare it to its literary neighbors in Wales, Ireland, and Iceland. On the broadest level, I’m interested in religious texts, looking at how localized expressions of Christianity developed from what we find in Late Antiquity into the diverse and robust forms we find scattered across Europe in the High Middle Ages. In my research and my classroom, I’m always asking what a text might mean in light of the intellectual and spiritual currents around it, as well as how different audiences might react to the same text. That’s why I’m also interested in manuscript studies, textual transmission, the interaction of oral/formulaic culture with scribal/literate culture, and postcolonial perspectives on literary texts.

My current project looks at “infernal apocrypha”– apocrypha about hell– in order to investigate how and why hell evolved the way it did in vernacular texts over the course of the Middle Ages. The Gospel of Nicodemus and the Vision of St. Paul, though not technically canonical according to most ecclesiastical authorities (then and now), were instrumental to the cultivation of vernacular experiments in theology. Since apocrypha weren’t scripture, people felt free to tinker with them at times; yet since apocrypha look and act like scripture, sometimes other people took them as authoritative. My dissertation explores how this liminality made hell a laboratory for medieval authors’ imaginations in Anglo-Saxon England, Iceland, Wales, and Ireland.

My first articles can be found in Philological Quarterly and Notes and Queries, and I have other work forthcoming– an article under review on the manuscripts of the Middle Welsh “Ystoria Adda” (The Story of Adam), a chapter on the development of Oral Formulaic Theory in Old English Studies for Formula: Units of Speech, and the first English translation/edition of the Holy Rood Legend “Post Peccatum Adae” for Burke and Landau’s second volume of More New Testament Apocrypha.

Born in Texas but a lifelong Ohioan, I got my BA in Anthropology/Linguistics in 2011 from Miami University (OH), studied classics at the University of Pennsylvania the year after that, and have been happily planted in Bloomington ever since. Thanks to the generosity of the Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies, I’m currently supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. After wrapping up my dissertation, I’ll receive my Ph.D. from Indiana University in May 2019.

When I’m not doing the above, you can usually find me running, scribbling down a poem, playing fetch with my cat, playing Skyrim, or gently attempting to persuade innocent bystanders of the glamour/joys of etymology.

If you want to get in touch, feel free to email me at schopkin@iu.edu or tweet me @phil_lol_ogist