Dr. Jonathan Stavsky

Department of English and American Studies
חוג לספרות אנגלית ולימודים אמריקניים סגל אקדמי בכיר
Dr. Jonathan Stavsky
Phone: 03-6405044
Office: Webb - School of Languages, 510

Research and Teaching

My main field of research is Middle English literature, which flourished in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is during this formative period that some of the most important works of the English canon—indeed the very idea of an English literary tradition—came into being. At the same time, I often find myself approaching this culture from a comparative perspective: its relation to French and Italian literature, its reception of the classical and patristic heritage, its later fortunes, and the intersections of written texts and other media such as performance or visual illustration.
I wrote my PhD dissertation on a surprisingly rich corpus of medieval narratives featuring a righteous woman on trial. The greater part of this project addressed the reception history of Susanna and the Elders from the Additions to the Book of Daniel in the period stretching from late antiquity to the late Middle Ages. Several of my publications are dedicated to this subject, which I continue to explore in my current research. My first book is a critical edition, translation, and study of a romance whose heroine survives a series of false accusations, kidnappings, and other tribulations.
A second research project, which I embarked upon as a Mandel Postdoctoral Fellow and for which I later won a grant from the Israel Science Foundation, charts the reception history of the term fabula in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern period. This concept and the anti-literary discourse that employed it played a significant part in shaping the category that has come to be known as “literature,” which encompasses texts from different genres that have not always been perceived as related to each other.
In an age that expects culture to be immediately relatable, thereby blurring the distinction between it and commercial entertainment or self-expression, I have taken a different path. I began my studies hoping to discover works that would have otherwise remained inaccessible to me, works capable of expanding my world and challenging my perceptions rather than merely reflecting them. I now see it as my duty to assist others in this pursuit. In addition to focusing on the literature of medieval England, my teaching also covers topics that fall outside this period, from classics in translation to the history of literary theory. Promoting these fields of study poses a particular challenge in a place where English is a second or third language for most students, who are unacquainted with their basic texts and concepts when they come to University. It is also, I believe, an opportunity to examine them from an outsider’s perspective by analyzing their relation to other traditions, to marginalized groups and non-canonical texts, and to interpretive questions that go beyond their original context. I tend to design reading-intensive courses, with the goal of immersing the students in past literature and current scholarship. I consider teaching a bidirectional process: a successful class or assignment is one that allows the students and the instructor to learn from one another.
Some of the courses I have offered or plan to offer include “Introduction to British Culture I” (required BA course), “Classical and Christian Foundations of English Culture” (core BA course), “Literary Theory from Antiquity to Modernity” (core BA course), “Shakespeare’s Classical World” (core BA course), “Medieval Literature in Translation” (core BA course), “Gender and Genre in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales” (BA seminar), “Chaucer: Dream Visions and Troilus and Criseyde” (BA seminar), “Theory and Methodology” (required MA course), “Exemplary Women” (MA seminar), “Jews, Saracens, and Other Others in Medieval Literature” (MA seminar), and “The World of Margery Kempe” (MA Seminar). I would be glad to supervise theses on nearly any topic relating to Middle English literature and its contexts.


Employment at Tel Aviv University

  • 2016–Present: Senior Lecturer, The Department of English and American Studies

University Service

  • 2021–2023: MA Student Advisor, The Department of English and American Studies
  • 2018–2020: BA Student Advisor, The Department of English and American Studies
  • 2016–2018: BA Honors Student Advisor, The Department of English and American Studies


  • BA in Comparative Literature and the Amirim Honors Program (summa cum laude), MA in English (magna cum laude), and PhD in English from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Postdoctoral Fellowships

  • 2014–2016: Mandel Scholion: Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Humanities and Jewish Studies, The Hebrew University
  • 2013–2014: Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania

Other Awards

  • 2018–2021: Israel Science Foundation Research Grant
  • 2017–2020: Alon Fellowship for Outstanding Young Researchers
  • 2014: The Schlomiuk Prize for Outstanding PhD Thesis, The Hebrew University
  • 2010–2013: Rotenstreich PhD Fellowship
  • 2009–2010: President’s Fellowship in the Humanities, The Hebrew University
  • 2009: Award in Honor of Prof. Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan for Outstanding MA Thesis in Literature, The Hebrew University

Membership in Professional Societies

  • The John Gower Society

Thesis Supervision

PhD Students

  • Since 2022: Orit Klein-Vartsky, “Between the Literary and the Popular: Medieval Poetry and Folk Balladry of the British Isles”;
  • Since 2020: Netanel Bar-Yehuda (together with Prof. Amir Lerner of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies), “The ‘Narratological Mirror Effect’: Frame-Story Character Reproduction in The Thousand and One Nights and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales”;
  • 2018–2022: Dr. Tamar Gerstenhaber (together with Prof. Shirley Zisser of the Department of English Literature and American Studies), “‘The Shadow of a White Rose in a Mirror of Silver’: The Vicissitudes of the Fetish in the Writings of Oscar Wilde.”

MA Students

  • Since 2024: Remon Badan, “Shameful Agency: The Hidden Power of Shame in Medieval Portrayals of the Fallen Woman”; 
  • 2018–2021: Orit Klein-Vartsky, “From Class Discourse to Gender Relations and Back Again: How Balladry Receives and Restages Medieval Literature as a Form of Class Critique.”



  • Le Bone Florence of Rome: A Critical Edition and Facing Translation of a Middle English Romance Analogous to Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2017. 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “‘For-soþe I had leuar se ȝou be slayn’: Margery Kempe and the Biblical Susanna.” Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 47 (2021): 166–88. https://doi.org/10.5325/jmedirelicult.47.2.0166.
  • “Typology, Community, and Stagecraft in the N-Town ‘Trial of Mary and Joseph.’” Enacting the Bible in Medieval and Early Modern Drama. Ed. Eva von Contzen and Chanita Goodblatt. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020. 28–42. https://doi.org/10.7765/9781526131607.00008.
  • “Translating the Near East in the Man of Law’s Tale and Its Analogues.” The Chaucer Review 55 (2020): 32–54. https://doi.org/10.5325/chaucerrev.55.1.0032.
  • “Les romans moyen-anglais Octavian et Le bone Florence of Rome : convergences thématiques ou vestiges d’un cycle perdu ?” Bien Dire et Bien Aprandre 34 (2019): 171–79. 
  • “Oral Tales and Written Truth in the Early Reception History of LXX Psalm 118(119).” Psalms In/On Jerusalem. Ed. Ilana Pardes and Ophir Münz-Manor. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019. 43–66. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110460803-004.
  • “Tragic Diction in Chaucer’s Boece, the Canterbury Tales, and Hoccleve’s Series.” The Legacy of Boethius in Medieval England: The Consolation and Its Afterlives. Ed. A. Joseph McMullen and Erica Weaver. Tempe: The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Press, 2018. 155–69.
  • “As the Lily among Thorns: Daniel 13 in the Writings of John Wyclif and His Followers.” Viator 46 (2015): 249–75. https://doi.org/10.1484/J.VIATOR.5.103509.
  • “Hoccleve’s Take on Chaucer and Christine de Pizan: Gender, Authorship, and Intertextuality in the Epistre au dieu d’Amours, the Letter of Cupid, and the Series.” Philological Quarterly 93 (2014): 435–60. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1718898801.
  • “‘Gode in all thynge’: The Erle of Tolous, Susanna and the Elders, and Other Narratives of Righteous Women on Trial.” Anglia 131 (2013): 538–61. https://doi.org/10.1515/anglia-2013-0064.
  • “John Lydgate Reads The Clerk’s Tale.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 34 (2012): 209–46. https://doi.org/10.1353/sac.2012.0044.


  • Review of Author, Scribe, and Book in Late Medieval English Literature, by Rory G. Critten (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2018). Journal of English and Germanic Philology 121 (2022): 131–34. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/850653.
  • Review of Chaucer: A European Life, by Marion Turner (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019). Style 54 (2020): 126–30. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/757497.
  • Review of The Queen’s Dumbshows: John Lydgate and the Making of Early Theater, by Claire Sponsler (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). Studies in the Age of Chaucer 38 (2016): 365–69https://doi.org/10.1353/sac.2016.0029.
  • Review of Medieval French Miracle Plays: Seven Falsely Accused Women, by Carol J. Harvey (Dublin: Four Courts, 2011). Medieval Feminist Forum 48 (2012): 115–17. https://doi.org/10.17077/1536-8742.1937.
  • Review of Temporal Circumstances: Form and History in the Canterbury Tales​, by Lee Patterson (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Partial Answers 7 (2009): 149–53. https://doi.org/10.1353/pan.0.0138.

 Other Publications

  • “Cane (Cana)”; “Galilee”; “Geography, Biblical”; “Pharao, Pharoo (Pharaoh)”; “Rede See (The Red Sea)”; Susanne, Susanna.” The Chaucer Encyclopedia. Gen. ed. Richard G. Newhauser. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2023. 1:275–76; 2:785–86; 2:816–18; 3:1431–32; 4:1583; 4:1798–99. https://doi.org/http://doi.org/10.1002/9781119086130.
  • Erle of Tolous, The.” The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain. Vol. 1. Ed. Siân Echard and Robert Rouse. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, 2017. 751–52. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118396957.wbemlb326.
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