Karen E. Mura, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing

Associate Professor of English

Faculty Coordinator for Post-Graduate Advising

Faculty Coordinator for Fellowship Advising

  • Education
  • PHD, Univ of Wisconsin Madison
  • MA, University of Toronto
  • MA, Oxford University
  • BA, Wellesley College

One transformative moment in my graduate education was when I happened to take a paleography class. We learned how to analyze manuscripts and read medieval handwriting. The entire class was devoted to transcribing medieval texts, from black and white microfilms!

Now, the study of medieval manuscripts has been enhanced by digital archives and the internet. Most recently, I have been analyzing the poetic texts (in Latin and Middle English) in Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson Poetry 32. The awe and excitement of reading hand-written manuscripts that are 600 years old has never left me, even though I took that paleography class almost 30 years ago.

I hope to generate that same excitement in my classes at Susquehanna University when I teach early literature courses. My students study manuscript pages from the 11th and 14th centuries, trying to figure out letter forms, odd spellings, and obscure abbreviations. At first it is a challenge, but as we spend time with each page, it is remarkable how quickly one's eyes can be trained to read what looks, at first, like unintelligible squiggles!

During my time at Susquehanna, my teaching and research have focused on making medieval texts, culture, and society come alive for my students. We study art, architecture, food, armor, and other diverse topics when reading the texts themselves. One semester, when we were reading Arthurian romances, I had a master falconer come to campus with several falcons, to explain and demonstrate this popular medieval sport.

Making subjects come alive and engaging in hands-on learning experiences are two features of a liberal arts education at Susquehanna University that encourage the development of the whole person and create a learner for life.

Courses taught:

  • ENGL-100 Writing and Thinking
  • ENGL-205 Literature Studies
  • ENGL-205 Medieval Literature
  • ENGL-305 Medieval Literature
  • ENGL-305 Medieval Myths and Narratives
  • ENGL-540 Internship
  • HONS-100 Thought
  • HONS-200 Thought and Civilization
  • HONS-301 Medieval Literature
  • HONS-301 Medieval Myths and Narratives
  • PRDV-104 Perspectives