Professor, English Department
Jill Fitzgerald's fields of expertise include Old and Middle English, Old Norse-Icelandic, and the History of the English Language. Her research focuses on the literature and culture of early medieval England, especially Old English and Anglo-Latin texts from roughly the seventh through eleventh centuries, with particular attention to biblical poetry, manuscripts and material culture, ecclesiastical history, and conceptions of legal and political authority. She is finishing a book entitled Rebel Angels: Space and Sovereignty in Anglo-Saxon England, which investigates how early medieval authors adapted apocryphal and patristic accounts of the extra-biblical story of the fall of the angels in ways that allowed them to express cultural ideas concerning both ecclesiastical and secular power as well as attitudes toward inheritance and disinheritance. Her publications have appeared in top scholarly journals such as Medium Ævum (2014) and The Review of English Studies (2017). Her article on the medieval poet Cynewulf's depiction of the vision of Constantine received a best essay award from the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature. Her future research plans include articles on early medieval representations of the biblical warrior Judith, the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch, and the Scottish poet, Robert Henryson.
Whenever she can, Professor Fitzgerald enjoys introducing midshipmen to her research about the medieval world, whether through making medieval "Iron Gall" ink in one of the Naval Academy's chemistry labs, reciting and translating Old English with her classes, or overseeing research projects on Viking sagas. She has taken numerous groups of midshipmen to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. to view their impressive medieval holdings and she annually leads a group of midshipmen on a walking pilgrimage - just like the one described in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - from London to the city of Canterbury, UK. While ambling through the English countryside, they get to view castles, ancient monasteries, medieval churches, and, of course, the breathtaking Canterbury Cathedral.