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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature


Professor of English Holly Crocker Wins a USC Russell Research Award for 2016

English Department Professor recognized by university for outstanding research

Professor Holly Crocker has won one of the university’s most illustrious awards for scholarship, honoring “innovative research or creative achievement in the form of books, articles, productions, exhibits, compositions or arrangements.”

Dr. Crocker received this award for her monograph The Matter of Virtue: Women’s Ethical Action from Chaucer to Shakespeare, which argues that English poets—including Capgrave, Chaucer, Fletcher, Henryson, Lodge, Lydgate, Shakespeare, and Spenser—elaborate a positive account of women’s ethical action between 1343-1623. They do so through a poetic reformulation of virtue as material, animate, and performative. In a host of medieval and early modern representations, virtues are not abstract principles or disembodied ideals. Rather than confine women within rigid prescriptive schema, writings in this study articulate a material conception of virtue that allows women to show strength, dignity, beauty, and constancy, among other qualities. By treating feminine virtues as embodied powers that exert material influence, these poets not only create more lively female characters, but they also foster an ethics based on forbearance and endurance rather than governance and domination.