Benjamin A. Saltzman

Visiting Associate in English
B.A., Pace University, 2007; Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley), 2014. Instructor, 2014-17. Caltech, 2017-18.

Benjamin Saltzman is a Visiting Associate at Caltech (previously Weisman Postdoctoral Instructor) and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where he researches the literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England, focusing on texts written in Old English and Anglo-Latin roughly between the seventh century and the eleventh. He is broadly interested in the relationship between textuality and social practice in medieval law and monastic life, and his work ranges from the history of hermeneutics (both medieval and modern) to studies in paleography and codicology.

He is finishing a book entitled Bonds of Secrecy: The Cultural and Literary Mechanics of Concealment in Early Medieval England, which investigates the tensions between the medieval Christian belief in divine omniscience and the social experience of secrecy. The book argues that as these tensions manifested in the legal culture and monastic life of Anglo-Saxon England they profoundly shaped the practices of literary interpretation in the process. Some of the larger methodological questions provoked in the book are explored in a forthcoming PMLA article: "Secrecy and the Hermeneutic Potential in Beowulf." He has also written on the psychology of "forgetting one's self" in an article recently published in Anglo-Saxon England. And his study of friendship in late Anglo-Saxon monasticism appeared in the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies in 2011 and received an honorable mention from the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists for Best Article in the field.

Saltzman also researches nineteenth- and twentieth century medievalism (including the reception of medieval literature and the disciplinary history of Medieval Studies and Anglo-Saxon Studies). He has published on these topics in Victorian Poetry and postmedieval, and he is currently editing a collection of essays with R. D. Perry on the influential group of intellectuals, such as Erich Auerbach and Hannah Arendt, whose scholarship on the Middle Ages emerged and flourished in the years after WWII and has had an enduring effect on the shape of Medieval Studies today as well as numerous other fields of study.

While at Caltech as a Weisman Postdoctoral Instructor from 2014-2017, Saltzman taught Old English Literature, as well as courses on the history of the English language, medieval theories of the subject, and nineteenth-century medievalism. He has received teaching awards from both HSS and ASCIT. 

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Selected Awards: 
NEH Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities (2017-18)
ASCIT Teaching Award, Academics and Research Committee, Caltech (2016)
HSS Teaching Award, Humanities and Social Sciences Division, Caltech (2015)
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2013-14)
Best Article Prize (Biennial), Honorable Mention, International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (2013)
Selected Publications 

 

"Ut hkskdkxt: Early Medieval Cryptography, Textual Errors, and Scribal Agency," Speculum (forthcoming): Download pre-publication version

"Secrecy and the Hermeneutic Potential in Beowulf," PMLA (forthcoming): Download pre-publication version

"The Friar, the Summoner, and their Techniques of Erasure," The Chaucer Review (forthcoming): Download pre-publication version

"Towards the Middle Ages to Come: The Temporalities of Walking with W. Morris, H. Adams, and Especially H. D. Thoreau," postmedieval 5.2 (2014): Download Article and Abstract

"The Mind, Perception and the Reflexivity of Forgetting in Alfred's Pastoral Care," Anglo-Saxon England 42 (2013): 147-82. Download Article and Abstract.

"William Morris's 'Golden Wings' as a Poetic Response to the 'Delicate Sentiment' of Tennyson's 'Mariana,'" Victorian Poetry 49.3 (2011): 285-99. Download Article.

"Writing Friendship, Mourning the Friend in Late Anglo-Saxon Rules of Confraternity," Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 41.2 (2011): 251-91. Download Article and Abstract. Best Article Prize, Honorable Mention, International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (2013)

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