Erler Named Distinguished Professor

The English department is celebrating Professor Mary Erler's promotion to the rank of Distinguished Professor at Fordham University. Chair Glenn Hendler shared the good news with faculty and students  at the 2015 Inaugural Lecture.

Erler focuses on medieval and early modern literature, women’s reading and book ownership, and early English printing.


She earned her BA in English at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana and her MA and PhD in English from the University of Chicago. During her time at the University of Chicago, where she trained as a medievalist, Erler recognized a gap in scholarship on medieval women.

Nowadays, names like Margery Kempe and Christine de Pizan abound in medieval scholarship. Erler’s contributions have no doubt propelled scholarly interest in the field.

Along with numerous articles and reviews, Erler has written and edited several books, including the widely acclaimed Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England (2002). She has edited Robert Copland: Complete Poems (1993); Poems of Cupid, God of Love (1991) and the volume of Records of Early English Drama (REED) on Ecclesiastical London (2008) . She has also edited essay collections, including Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages (2003) and Women and Power in the Middle Ages (1988). These collections focus on the cultural position of women in medieval times. The latter has sold more than 5,000 copies, an impressive number for an academic volume, and is frequently used by professors in their courses.

Most recently, Erler published Reading and Writing during the Dissolution: Monks, Nuns, and Friars 1530-1558 (2013). In this book, Erler shows how the chronicles, devotional texts, and letters of friars, anchorites, monks, and nuns reveal the various spiritual and practical responses to the changes in religious affairs during the Dissolution. “Bibliography can lead into biography,” Erler said.

Erler has taught at Fordham for thirty-five years, offering courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. She described the experience of teaching as wonderful and merciful. “It gives you the opportunity to do over what you felt you didn’t do right the first time,” she said.

Erler has also distinguished herself through her administrative duties. She was chair of Fordham’s English department in the 1990s, overseeing the merger of the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campus communities. Erler asserted that, during difficult administrative times, history can inform future decisions. “We have the advantage of hindsight,” she said. Erler has also served on the faculty senate for ten years, and she has acted in various committees for both the English department and the larger Fordham community.

Congratulations to Mary Erler on her well-earned accomplishment!