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Faculty Profile

Chelsea Skalak

(she/her/hers)Assistant Professor of English (2015)

Contact Information

East College Room 304


Professor Skalak is a teacher and scholar of medieval British literature. Her research interests include medieval gender and sexuality, legal studies, female authorship, and digital humanities. She has published articles on medieval romance, marital rape in The Canterbury Tales, and teaching the global Middle Ages. Recent courses include Chaucer's Women, Medieval Women Writers, King Arthur from Medieval to Modern, and Mapping the Global Middle Ages. She is a contributing faculty member in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


  • B.A., Northwestern University, 2008
  • M.A., University of Virginia, 2011
  • Ph.D., 2015

2023-2024 Academic Year

Fall 2023

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

ENGL 101 The Legend of King Arthur
The legend of King Arthur has captured imaginations for hundreds of years, inspiring adaptations even into the present day. Yet when the legend originated a millennium ago, it was already considered a tale of a bygone age, the dream of a romantic past. This class will study the medieval origins of the King Arthur story and then trace that legend through time to the present day, including the films King Arthur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As we read, we will consider how each text responds to both its historical context and its own imagined past.

ENGL 222 Tools/Tech/Cult of Dig Humn
We are all familiar with reading and writing in digital environments. But what can we gain if we use digital tools for analysis that only they can do? What if we could read every newspaper headline from an entire decade, map out a novel in physical space, or visually break down the relationship between two poems? Does reading change if it happens only online? In this class, we will learn various tools and techniques of digital humanities, while familiarizing ourselves with the theory of reading and writing in digital environments. As a final project, everyone will create a digital edition of a short text, complete with analysis using the tools presented in this class.

Spring 2024

ENGL 101 Medievalism Tolkien/GOT
The novels of J.R.R. Tolkien popularized a new era of medievalism in the arts, inspiring an incredible output of novels, art, movies and television, and video and role-playing games. Yet "medievalism" is also often hurled as an insult, indicating outmoded or backwards-looking modes of thought. In this class, we will consider the ramifications of the resurgence of medievalism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including questions of genre, politics, history, and the individual in society. Authors include J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, and G.R.R. Martin.

ENGL 222 Literary Adaptations
In some ways, literature is the history of telling the same stories again and again. A medieval romance becomes a Shakespearean play, an 18th-century lyric poem, a 19th-century novel, and finally a 20th-century film. Today, the proliferation of parodies, critiques, re-tellings, and remakes extends the world of adaptation still further. In this class, we will study the theory of adaptation as we explore how stories cross genres, time periods, and cultural contexts. In this writing-intensive workshop class, we will consider how new technologies enable and alter the kinds of stories that can be told, and what criteria we use to evaluate them.

ENGL 331 Angels/Demons Early Eng Stage
From the soaring orations of God and the admonitions of angels to the blasphemies and deceptions of devils, the denizens of heaven and hell occupied considerable time and space on the medieval and early modern stage. In the mouths of supernatural beings, playwrights could ask challenging questions about subjects such as religion, government, free will, gendered relationships, personal identity, and the nature of literature. This class will explore these issues through the lens of early English drama, from amateur medieval guilds to the rise of professional public theaters, and will conclude with the study of these early works in performance today. Texts will include medieval cycle and morality plays, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Shakespeare's Othello, and Ben Jonson's The Devil is an Ass.