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John Black

Dr. Black in classroom

John Black

Associate Professor of English (2004)


  • B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Phone: 610-861-1390
Office: Zinzendorf Hall, Room 303

Areas of Research and/or Expertise

Old and Middle English literature, language, and culture; hagiography and constructions of sanctity; medieval religiosity; and the interplay of text and image in medieval art.


Dr. Black’s specialty is medieval English literature and culture. His particular interests are Old and Middle English literature, hagiography, constructions of sanctity, sacred landscape, and the interplay of text and image in medieval art. At Moravian, Dr. Black teaches courses in medieval English literature and culture and in the history of the English language, as well as the department's ‘gateway’ course in English Studies for majors and minors. He has published on Old English homiletic writing, on accounts of the saints in Old English, Middle English, and medieval Latin narratives, and on the interplay of text and image in medieval hagiography. In his professional community, Dr. Black is a member of the Medieval Academy, the Modern Language Association, the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, the International Center of Medieval Art, the Early English Text Society, the Hagiography Society, the Delaware Valley Medieval Association, and the Southeastern Medieval Association. He also participates in the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges Consortial Lectures program.

At Moravian, Dr. Black regularly participates in the shared governance of the University through his service on various committees and on other projects in support of the University. He has served as Co-Chair for the First-Year Seminar program since its inception in 2010. He also serves as Co-Director of the Medieval Studies Minor, faculty advisor to The Medieval Society, an academic advisor for majors in the English/Education program and for first-year students, and a mentor in Honors and Independent Study projects. He is active in promoting opportunities for students to engage in undergraduate research, study abroad, and extra-mural learning.

Dr. Black has participated in a summer National Endowment for the Humanities seminar for research and teaching at the University of Cambridge entitled, “Holy Men and Holy Women of Anglo-Saxon England” (2006) and in a summer program in early Irish language and culture (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland; 2011). At Moravian, he has received the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching (2007) and the Omicron Delta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching (2008). He shared an Impact Award (2007, with Prof. Sandy Bardsley in History), presented in recognition of his work in organizing the inaugural Moravian University Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The Conference has become an annual event, attracting more than 200 participants to the University each December since 2006. In recent summers, Dr. Black has done volunteer work on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona, participated in an archeological expedition in Israel/Palestine, biked on Orkney, taken ‘writing retreats’ in San Francisco and Vancouver, made a conference presentation and done research in the North of England, and hiked in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

With respect to teaching and learning, Dr. Black writes, “I have enjoyed working with students in a wide variety of courses in a diverse range of classroom settings – from courses in medieval literature and college writing for undergraduates at Moravian, Georgetown, and UNC-Chapel Hill; to Old English language and literature with graduate students at North Carolina State University; to basic composition in a transitional program at UNC-Chapel Hill for selected first-year minority students arriving at a major university from smaller, less-privileged high school;, to ESL with college students and adults in Shijiazhuang, China; to the standard range of subjects with fifth-graders on the Hopi Reservation in northeast Arizona. In the whole of my experience working with students, while the situations and individuals have varied widely, one theme seems common enough: a successful teacher must first meet the challenges of working creatively and resourcefully to meet students ‘where they are’ in order to help them question and explore a new range of ‘destinations’ with regard to mastery of content and application of critical thinking and writing skills. This ‘bridge’ metaphor is as challenging as it is obvious. Such an approach to learning is most often a matter of daily re-commitment - the bridge is under perpetual renewal - but I build and maintain this bridge because I want to motivate students to discover and develop their power to create and invest their lives and their communities with meaning. Much of what ‘is,’ is constructed - too often not for the best – and can therefore be reconstructed in ways that better reflect our ideals. Learning should, among its many goals, prepare students with the skills, experiences, and convictions necessary for the formation of their own roles in promoting a society in which all persons may live fully and graciously.”


  • “Remodeling Monastic Holiness”; chapter accepted for anthology, Rewriting Holiness, edited by Dr. Madeleine Gray, University of Wales, Newport; under editorial review by King’s College London Medieval Series 
  • “Building Bridges to the Past: Personal Reflections on Understanding Audience, Welcoming Inquiry, and Establishing Contexts,” Literature Compass 10.12 (2013): 908-12. [Invited article from participation in TEAMS Roundtable on Teaching Medieval Studies in the Increasingly Secular Classroom, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, May 2011.]
  • Nutrix Pia: The Flowering of the Cult of St. Æthelthryth in Anglo-Saxon England,” in Writing Women Saints in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Paul Szarmach. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (2013): 167-90.
  • “Stripping the Saint: Formation and Transformation in the Cult of St. Mary of Egypt in Medieval England,” Medieval Perspectives 23 (2008): 1-16
  • “Tradition and Transformation in the Cult of St. Guthlac in Early Medieval England,” Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe 10 (2006)
  • Interviewed, along with Prof. Sandy Bardsley (History Dept., Moravian University), by Campus Events Professional (Magna Publications) for article highlighting the purpose and organization of undergraduate conference in medieval and early modern studies, January 2007.
  • “Innovation and Tradition in Representations of St. Cuthbert in Medieval England,” Medieval Perspectives 17.2 (2002): 38-50
  • “Ælfric’s De Populo Israhel,” in Allegorica 20 (1999): 93-119
  • “Jerome’s Influence on Ælfric,” in article, “St. Jerome at UNC,” in Old English Newsletter 29.3 (1996): 17-24. 

Conference Presentations

  • “Landscape as Crucible: The Force of Place in the Lives of St. Cuthbert and St. Guthlac,” Southeastern Medieval Association Conference, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, October 3-5, 2013
  • “The Role of Sacred Landscape in Enriching the Cults of St. Mary of Egypt and St. Æthelthryth in Early Medieval England,” Medieval Association of the Midwest Conference, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, September 27-29, 2012
  • “Sacred Landscape in Saints' Cults in Early Medieval England,” Irish Conference of Medievalists, National University of Ireland, Galway, June 24-26, 2011 
  • “Negotiating Holiness: Saints’ Lives and Tensions in Monasticism in Early Medieval England,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 12-15, 2011
  • “Revisionings of St. Chad in Medieval England,” International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK, July 12-15, 2010
  • “Models of Undergraduate Scholarship in the Humanities: A Workshop,” Council on Undergraduate Research Conference, Ogden, UT, June 19-22, 2010
  • “Stripping the Saint: Formation and Transformation in the Cult of St. Mary of Egypt in Medieval England,” Southeastern Medieval Association Conference, Spartanburg, SC, October 4-6, 2007
  • “The Flowering of the Cult of St. Æthelthryth in Anglo-Saxon England,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 10-13, 2007
  • “Tradition and Transformation in the Cult of St. Guthlac in Early Medieval England,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 5-8, 2005
  • “Invention and Integration in Saints’ Cults in Medieval England,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 3-6, 2001
  • “Innovation and Tradition in Representations of St. Cuthbert in Medieval England,” Southeastern Medieval Association, Asheville, NC, September 28-30, 2000
  • “Sainthood in Text and Image: Medieval English Representations of St. Guthlac and of St. Mary of Egypt,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 4-7, 2000
  • “Jerome’s Influence in the Works of Ælfric,” International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, Stanford University, August 1995
  • “Chaucer’s Development of Physical Setting in ‘The Reeve’s Tale,’” Medieval Forum, Plymouth (NH) State University, April 1994

Other Recent Conference Participation

  • Index of Christian Art, Princeton University; Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto; Modern Language Association; Students in Transition Conference; Delaware Valley Medieval Association.