A collection of both scholarly and popular sights, sounds, and ideas shared with the non-academic world.


This is Your Mixtape

As a guest on this podcast, I discuss my life and work through five songs that reflect important moments in the development of my academic and personal story. I chat with host Michael Collins about the corporeal experience of music, discovering self confidence, converting to Islam as an adult, the appeal of strength, and the capacious and joyful embodiment of Missy Elliott's music.

Where Do the Children Play? by Cat Stevens.
One Way or Another by Blondie.
Forbidden Colours by David Sylvian with Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Work It by Missy Elliott.
XXXO by M.I.A.

You can listen to the podcast episode here.


The Opposite of Lonely

In another podcast by Megaphonic, host Nadia Halim interrogates how human beings forge social connections in the modern world. In this episode, I and a number of other guests play the card game Ask Deep Questions, developed as a tool to get past small talk and into meaningful conversations. The game elicits some deep questions: Is vulnerability the only key to connection, or are there other ways to connect? Can you have true vulnerability without venturing into difficult territory that risks negativity and conflict?

Listen to the podcast episode here.


Paul Gottschalk Memorial Lecture: Chaucer’s Periodization

I was honoured to speak at the 40th anniversary of the Paul Gottschalk Memorial Lecture at Cornell University in February 2019. I considered the question of Chaucer’s periodization (i.e., is he a quintessentially “medieval” poet, or a harbinger of the “modern”?) through the lens of contemporaries, and how they saw their own place in time.

The entire lecture was recorded, and is available on YouTube here.

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The Spouter-Inn Podcast

I co-host an ongoing podcast series dedicated to conversations about ‘great books’ — books that have played an outsized role in our shared past, and might help us to imagine the future.

You can peruse the Spouter-Inn website, which contains a breakdown of specific episodes, here.

The Scene of the Scene Podcast: Review of Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. Documentary

I join writer Michael Collins to discuss a documentary about musician/activist/director/provocateur M.I.A., a Tamil refugee who became an unlikely pop star. The movie traces her early life, her rise to fame, her attempts to use that fame to address the civil war and genocide in Sri Lanka, and the controversies that have surrounded her career. 

Listen to the episode here.

ICI Berlin Conference: Invited Talk

I was thrilled to be invited by Kulturlabor / the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI) in Berlin to give a plenary lecture at a conference on “The Shape of Return: Progress, Process, and Repetition in Medieval Culture.”

You can find a clip of my talk, called “Binary Time: Repetition and Cycle in Medieval Universal Histories,” here, and the full talk here.

In The Middle: Guest Post

With my colleague Kaitlin Heller, we discuss reading practices — our own practices, and our sense of how reading is both an intensely private activity and a basis of shared community. This post was the start of our new book project, How We Read, soon to appear from punctum books.

You can read my guest post here.

CBC Radio: Making Marco Polo

I contribute to CBC Radio’s special on the medieval traveller and writer, Marco Polo. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“You can get an app for your phone that will let you find your missing phone. If you say ‘Marco,’ the phone will say ‘Polo’ back to you. They know the children's game. They know the idea of the traveller. But not many people know much about the story ... about the text and how much it circulated since the first days it was produced.”

You can listen to the podcast here.

NYUAD: Invited Talk on European Representations of Islam in the Era of the Crusade

I was invited to NYU Abu Dhabi to share my findings on how Christian medieval writers and readers understood and explained the differences they saw between themselves and Muslims. I use examples from a broad range of texts, including encyclopedias, maps, medical and astronomical treatises, chansons de geste, romances, and allegories.

You can watch a video of the talk here.