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Marjorie Curry Woods

ProfessorPh.D., U. of Toronto

Blumberg Centennial Professor of English and University Distinguished Teaching Professor
Marjorie Curry Woods



medieval literature; medieval and renaissance rhetoric and pedagogy; composition exercises in the premodern classroom; modern use of premodern compostion exercises


Professor Marjorie (Jorie) Woods grew up in the military and moved almost every year. Changing schools so often generated her interest in teaching, and she studies both how students were taught to write in medieval schools, and the use of premodern classroom exercises in the modern classroom. In 2010 she published her decades-long study of the teachers' notes in margins of the manuscripts of a medieval rhetorical treatise, entitled Classroom Commentaries: Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Currently she is working on how female characters from classical texts were studied and performed in the classroom by boys during the Middle Ages.

At UT she has received a Humanites Research Award, the Harry Ransom Award for Teaching Excellence, the University President's Associates' Teaching Excellence Award, and the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award. Jorie Woods is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and the Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies at The Ohio State University, as well as research grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society. An Early Commentary on the Poetria nova of Geoffrey of Vinsauf (1985) received Honorable Mention for the John Nicholas Brown Award of the Medieval Academy of America. Her latest book, Classroom Commentaries: Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe, has been awarded the 2010 Rhetoric Society of America Book Award. She received the Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies from the American Academy in Rome, where she spent 2007-2008 working on her next book project, Weeping for Dido: The Teaching of the Classics in the Middle Ages.  She continued working on this project as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton during 2011-2012. During 2014-15 she presented the results as the Gombrich Lectures at the Warburg Institute in London and conducted further manuscript research at the American Academy in Berlin; All Souls College, Oxford; and the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel.


For a complete publications listing, please download the full CV.

"Rhetoric, Gender, and the Literary Arts: Classical Speeches in the Schoolroom." New Medieval Literature 11 (2009).

"You May Have Changed My Life." English Language Notes 4 (2009). Special Issue on Experimental Literary Pedagogy.

"A Medieval Rhetorical Manual in the 17th Century: The Case of Christian Daum and the Poetria nova." Classica et Beneventana: Essays Presented to Virginia Brown on the Occasion of Her 65th Birthday. 2008.

''Using the Poetria nova to Teach Dictamen in Italy and Central Europe.'' Papers on Rhetoric V. 2003.

''Weeping for Dido: Epilogue on a Premodern Rhetorical Exercise in the Postmodern Classroom,'' Latin Grammar and Rhetoric: From Classical Theory to Medieval Practice. 2002.

''La retórica en el aula medieval, con algunas aplicationes modernas.'' Lecturas retóricas de la sociedad. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002.

''Boys Will Be Women: Musings on Classroom Nostalgia and the Chaucerian Audience(s).'' Speaking Images: Essays in Honor of V.A. Kolve. 2001.

''The Teaching of Poetic Composition in the Later Middle Ages.'' A Short History of Writing Instruction: From Ancient Greece to Modern America. 2001.

Awards & Honors

Awards & Honors

(last ten years; for complete list please download CV)

  • Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study, 2011-201
  • Phi Beta Kappa Alpha of Texas Award for Distinction in Teaching, 2011
  • 2011 Book Award from the Rhetoric Society of America (for Classroom Commentaries, 2010)
  • Paul W. Mellon Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, American Academy in Rome, 2007-2008
  • Chad Oliver Teaching Award, Plan II Honors Program, 2007
  • Harry H. Ransom Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts, 2006
  • University of Texas Special Research Grant, 2004-2005
  • Virginia Brown Fellowship, The Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies, The Ohio State University, November 2005
  • C. B. Smith, Sr., Nash Phillips, Clyde Copus Centennial Chair Honoring Harry Huntt Ransom Fellowship, University of Texas, 2005-2006
  • Dean’s Fellowship, College of Liberal Arts, Fall 2005
  • President’s Associates’ Teaching Award, University of Texas, 2004


Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

External Links

  • Center for European Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st Street
    Austin, Texas 78712