Skip to main content


Eleanor B. Johnson

Associate Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Director, Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, Columbia University

Governing Board Member, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2024–

email address [email protected] website Faculty Webpage
Headshot of Eleanor Johnson

Eleanor Johnson is associate professor of English and comparative literature and director of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University. Professor Johnson specializes in late medieval English prose, poetry, and drama; medieval poetics and literary philosophy; law and literature in the Middle Ages; and vernacular theology. Her first book, Practicing Literary Theory in the Late Middle Ages: Ethics and the Mixed Form in Chaucer, Gower, Usk, and Hoccleve, was published in 2013 (Chicago). Her second book, Dramatizing Contemplation: Participatory Theology in Middle English Prose, Verse, and Drama, was published in 2018 (Chicago). Her current book project studies ecological thought in medieval English poetry. and its working title is "Wasting Poetry: Ecosystem Thought in the Late Middle Ages". Her recent articles include "Feeling Time, Will, and Words: Vernacular Devotion in The Cloud of Unknowing (Journal for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2011), "The Poetics of Waste" (PMLA, 2012), "Objects of the Law: the Cases of Dorigen and Virginia" (2015), an essay on Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale (JEGP, 2015), "Horrific Visions of the Host: (Exemplaria, 2015), and "Tragic Nihilism in the Canterbury Tales" (JMEMS 2018). Two collections of her poetry, The Dwell (Scrambler Books) and Her Many Feathered Bones (Achiote Press) were published in 2009 and 2010. She is also the Poetry Section editor at Public Books