Dr. Kevin Whetter

Photo of Dr. Kevin Whetter

Position: Professor, Mediaeval Literature; English Honours Co-ordinator; Co-Editor of Arthurian Literature.
Office: BAC 422
Phone: 902-585-1388
Email: kevin.whetter@acadiau.ca




Research Interests: My principal research interest is mediaeval romance, a topic I have explored from a variety of interrelated angles and contexts: literary and generic (including developing a theory for genre study and a definition of romance as a genre); historical (including examining romance in its socio-political, religious, and chivalric contexts); and codicological (looking at romances in their manuscript book form). I am especially interested in mediaeval Arthurian romance, particularly Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur and its English sources; but I also work in genre theory, epic-heroic literature, and Tolkien studies. Most of my research is single-authored, but I have collaborated on different projects with the following leading scholars: Raluca L. Radulescu; R. Andrew McDonald; Karen Cherewatuk; Thomas H. Crofts; and Fiona Tolhurst.  As of 2021, I am Co-Editor – with Megan G. Leitch – of the journal Arthurian Literature (https://boydellandbrewer.com/9781800101302/arthurian-literature-xxxvi/).

Selected Publications: I have published widely with some of the leading mediaeval or Arthurian presses and journals, including in the premiere journal in mediaeval studies, Speculum. Select publications include:

“‘Oft leudlez alone’: The Isolation of the Hero and Its Consequences in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Medieval English and Dutch Literatures: The European Context. Essays in Honour of David F. Johnson. Ed. Larissa Tracy and Geert H. M. Claassens. Forthcoming, D.S. Brewer, 2021.

“Writing the Morte Darthur: Author, Manuscript, and Modern Editions.” A New Companion to Malory. Ed. Megan G. Leitch and Cory James Rushton. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2019. pp. 53-78. Co-authored with Thomas H. Crofts. https://boydellandbrewer.com/9781843845232/a-new-companion-to-malory/

“Standing Up for the Stanzaic-Poet: Artistry, Characterization, and Narration in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur and Malory’s Morte Darthur.” Arthuriana 28.3 (2018): 86-113.  Co-authored with Fiona Tolhurst. [This article was subsequently awarded the James Randall Leader Prize from the International Arthurian Society-North American Branch for the best article on an Arthurian topic published in 2018.]

“Inks and Hands and Fingers in the Manuscript of Malory’s Morte Darthur.” Speculum 92.2 (April 2017): 429-46.

The Manuscript and Meaning of Malory’s Morte Darthur: Rubrication, Commemoration, Memorialization. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2017; reprinted in paperback in 2020 with a revised appendix. https://boydellandbrewer.com/9781843844532/the-manuscript-and-meaning-of-malorys-imorte-darthuri/

My current book project, co-authored with Fiona Tolhurst, is a comparative and intertextual reassessment of several prominent scenes and characters from Malory’s Morte Darthur and the Alliterative and Stanzaic Mortes. Situating these texts in their historical and intertextual contexts, we illustrate the full extent of Malory’s debt to these two English poems, make a stronger case for Malory’s artistry than previous scholarship has been able to produce, and argue for reassessments of the standard critical interpretations of both the alliterative Morte Arthure and stanzaic Le Morte Arthur.


Teaching: I am a mediaevalist, so I teach courses on mediaeval Arthurian literature (Engl 2163); Chaucer (Engl 2173); Tolkien and the Middle Ages (Engl 3743); and Heroes and Villains in Pre-Modern Literature (Engl 2113, a study of classical and mediaeval epic-heroic literature). I always teach introductory or first-year English (in several formats: Engl 1406; 1413; or 1423), and every two or three years I teach non-Shakespearean Renaissance Drama (Engl 3293). All of Acadia’s English faculty are concerned to teach the same critical reading and writing skills, but we do so at the first-year level through very different texts; for myself, I focus in the first year on a variety of diverse texts and genres from the classical world through the mediaeval and early modern periods up to the twentieth century. I bring these different texts, authors and time-periods together through an exploration of heroism, family, gender, and myth.

At the Honours’ or Master’s levels I am happy to supervise research students in Arthurian literature, Chaucer, epic-heroic literature, mediaeval romance, or Tolkien.

I am a firm believer in the value of smaller classes and seminar-based pedagogy, so as much as possible my classes are based on group discussion augmented by lectures. Technology is used where relevant and useful, especially during lectures. With the exception of my Chaucer class, which covers a variety of genres but only one author, most of my courses are built around several different authors, texts, and genres. This includes the Tolkien course, which situates The Lord of the Rings against several of Tolkien’s mediaeval interests.

Graded evaluation in all of my classes is based on written assignments, participation, and an examination at the first-year level, and written assignments, participation, and examination or in-class presentation in the upper-level classes.