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Joseph M. Sullivan

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Joseph M. Sullivan

Associate Professor, Medieval German Literature and Culture

Kaufman Hall 216

(405) 642-7831



While a specialist in the literature of twelfth- through fourteenth-century Germany, I am also a comparativist with broad research interests. My critical publications focus on the resonance of cultural ideas and societal attitudes in pre-modern European literatures (especially Arthurian Romance) and in modern popular representations of the Middle Ages. All my research considers literary and cultural artifacts from a range of national and linguistic traditions. My published University of Texas PhD dissertation which also became my first book, for example, Counsel in Middle High German Arthurian Romance (Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik, 2001), analyzed the reception into medieval German Arthurian romance (and the early tradition of Arthurian romance in France) of medieval and Ancient ideas about giving advice and making decisions, and many of my more recent publications take a similarly culturally informed approach. Some of that ongoing research has focused on the medieval translations of perhaps the most influential Arthurian verse romance of the Middle Ages, namely, Chrétien de Troyes’ Yvain, the Knight with the Lion, into Germanic languages, including Middle High German and the Old Swedish (i.e. East Norse). And more recently I have branched out into other medieval Germanic romance traditions, as well, including the Middle Dutch Arthurian romance.  Additionally, I have done a good deal of critical work on the representation of the Middle Ages at the movies, recently publishing, for example, a piece on the Grail in Georges Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, and I currently preparing an essay on Kristin Lavransdatter, a 1995 Norwegian film about a medieval noble woman and based on Sigrid Undset's Nobel-prize winning novel trilogy from 1920-1922.

Apart from my critical, essay work, I am increasingly becoming an old-fashioned Germanic philologist, carrying the banner of the great European philologists, like the Brothers Grimm, into the modern era and planting it proudly on this side of the Atlantic. Thus, I recently published an edition of Wigamur, a 13th-century German Arthurian romance, with a facing-page English-language translation, the first translation of this romance ever into English. And I am currently working on a new edition of yet another 13th-century German Arthurian romance (and one of the most important romances of the entire German Arthurian tradition), Wigalois, also with a facing-page English translation.   [Please see my Website for more about me:]

Selected Publications


“Arthur of the North-East: The Old Swedish Herr Ivan Redraws the King Arthur of Chrétien’s Yvain,” Scandinavian Studies 87,1 (2015): 33-61

“What is a Lay?: The German-Speaking Countries,” Le Cygne: Journal of the International Marie de France Society series 3, vol. 1 (Fall 2014): 31-35.

The Knight with the Sleeve [Die Riddere metter Mouwen] and its Discourse on Personal Bonds,” co-authored with my Master’s advisee Zoë Wyatt, Arthuriana 24.3 (2014): 99-128.

“Youth and Older Age in the ‘Pesme Aventure’ episode of Chrétien’s Yvain, Hartmann’s Iwein, the Old Swedish Hærra Ivan (1303), and the Middle English Ywain and Gawain,” in The European Dimensions of Arthurian Literature, ed. Bart Besamusca and Frank Brandsma (Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 2007): 104-20.

“Cinema Arthuriana without Malory?: The International Reception of Fuqua, Franzoni, and Bruckheimer’s King Arthur (2004),” Arthuriana 17,2 (2007): 85-105

"The Merchant's Residence and Garden as locus amoenus in the Yiddish Dukus Horant," Courtly Arts and the Arts of Courtliness, ed. Keith Busby and Christopher Kleinhenz (2006), pp. 651-64


B.S. United States Military Academy, West Point (1985)

Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin (1999)