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Department of English Language and Literature


Alexander Vaughan Ames

Title: Instructor
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: Gambrell 254
Alexander Ames


PhD in English, Saint Louis University, 2007
Graduate Certificate in Medieval Studies, Saint Louis University, 2005
MA, in English, University of Alabama, 2000
BA in Art and English, University of Missouri, 1995

Areas of Specialization

Old and Middle English
Paleography and Codicology
Medieval Manuscripts and Early Modern Printing
Book History
Speech Act Theory
Digital Humanities

Courses Taught

SAEL 200 Social Advocacy and Ethical Life
ENGL 101 Critical Reading and Composition
ENGL 102 Rhetoric and Composition
ENGL 283 Themes in British Literature: Medievalism
ENGL 288 British Literature
ENGL 463 Business Writing

Professional Awards and Honors

   • NEH Summer Seminar: “The Reformation of the Book: 1450-1650” ̈ Lessius College, Antwerp (Belgium); University College, London(UK); St. Edmund Hall, Oxford(UK): 2009
   • New Chaucer Society 16th International Congress Travel Award 2008
   • Brennan Summer Dissertation Research Award, Saint Louis University, 2004 and 2006
   • Saint Louis University, Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship, 2006
   • Honorable Mention, Best Paper of Conference, Southern Writers, Southern Writing, University of Mississippi, 2000


   • Literary Speech Acts of the Medieval North: Essays Inspired by the Works of Thomas A. Shippey. Co-edited with Eric Shane Bryan, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2020.

Literary Speech Acts of the Medieval North This volume brings together examinations of pragmatic meaning and proverbs of the Medieval North. Pragmatic meaning, which relies upon cultural and interpersonal context to go beyond the simple semantic and grammatical meaning of an utterance, has a fundamental connection with proverbs, which also communicate a deeper meaning than what is actually said. Essays in this volume explore this connection by examining the language of generosity, conversion, friendship, debate, dragon proverbs, and saints’ lives. These essays are inspired by the works of Thomas A. Shippey, who has been a pioneer in the study of wisdom poetry and pragmatics in medieval literature.

   • “Scribal Conversation in MS152 (1-2), ”Christ Church Library Newsletter, vols.5:2,5:3 (Hillary, Trinity 2009), 17-20; 11-14.

Recent Conference Presentations

   • “Speech as Action in the Old and Middle English Harrowings of Hell.” Presented at the 7th Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, 17-19 June,2019.
   • “Instances of Cooperation in the Alliterative English Debate Tradition.” Presented at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, The Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, May 9-13, 2018.
   • “Convention and Narrative Conversation in Oxford, Bodleian, Digby MS41” Presented at the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Medieval Association, Charleston, South Carolina,16-18 November, 2017.

Brief Biography

A Native of St. Louis, Missouri, Alexander Vaughan Ames has been teaching for USC's Social Advocacy and Ethical Life Initiative (i.e. teaching SAEL 200) and for several years before that, I taught a variety of courses in English Composition and Literature here at USC. Prior to teaching at USC, he taught courses in English Language and Literature, with an emphasis on literature in Old and Middle English, and Book History at the Georgia Institute of Technology, at Saint Louis University and the University of Alabama. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Saint Louis University, with a Graduate Certificate in Medieval Studies, a M.A. in English from the University of Alabama, and a B.A. in English and Art at the University of Missouri. His research interests include textual studies, book history, and the role of speech acts in Medieval literature. Most recently, he co-edited, with Eric Bryan, of a volume of essays addressing the use of speech acts in Old Norse, Old English, and Middle English in honor of Tom Shippey published by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games with his twin sons, reading books of all sorts, including historical mystery novels, and watching movies and listening to music of a variety of genres, watching and playing rugby, and practicing his Welsh (usually in reference to literature and/or rugby).

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.