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From The Digital Medieval

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About Me


When I was in third grade, I clearly remember perusing the various books in the back of my classroom and encountering a children's copy of Beowulf. The images of magnificent halls and terrifying monsters caught me up in a world that seemed completely separate from my own but at the same time strangely familiar, and I knew that I had found something that I would spend the rest of my life learning about.

I attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, where I majored in English and German and, through the International Student Exchange Program, was able to spend a year abroad in Eichstätt, Bavaria. It was during my studies at the Katholische Universität Eichstätt that I first learned medieval language (Middle High German) and encountered the history of my own language, the latter in a course with Dr. Alfred Bammesberger. Upon my return to Idaho, I was astounded to hear that Dr. Rick Fehrenbacher was offering a course in Old English; I immediately enrolled and spent the next three semesters studying medieval language and literatures under his direction.

I continued my education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where I received specialized training in Anglo-Saxon under Dr. Thomas Bredehoft while pursuing an MA in English Literature. My Master's Project, "Monsters and Saints: Judith and the Problem of Grendel's Mother", examined the role of authority in the two most powerful female figures in the Nowell Codex: the anachronistically saintly Judith of the fragmentary poem and the terrifying and deadly mother of Beowulf's most famous antagonist. In my examination, I point out that these two figures share a startling number of defining characteristics and yet serve completely different purposes and receive equally different treatment within their respective texts. I then conclude that the treatment each receives is linked to the (lack of) permission she receives from masculine authorities.

I am currently pursuing my PhD at the University of New Mexico under the direction of Drs. Jonathan Davis-Secord and Helen Damico. UNM is unlike any other program I have been associated with; the Medieval Studies faculty is large and their expertise not only deep but broad, the student involvement in the Medieval Studies community thriving and passionate. Here, I have had the oppotunity and privilege to work with world-class scholars alongside a large and diverse group of fellow medievalists whose interests have complimented and informed my own. I sat for my comprehensive examinations in October of 2013 and am currently working on my dissertation, which focuses on the use of material culture in the poetry of the Exeter Book.


I live with my two cats, Æþeling and Athena, in Albuquerque, NM. When I have the opportunity, I enjoy playing games of many sorts, as well as cooking and learning about the digital world that continues to emerge as the single most significant development in human culture since the invention of the printing press. On occasion, I also like to sleep.

Justin Larsen

Justin Larsen is a serious scholar.

Humanities Building 464
MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Email: jlarsen1@unm.edu
Web: http://justinlarsen.net
Blog: The Digital Medieval
Twitter: @justinlarsen