Chelsea Rae Silva

Research areas:

Middle English literature, material culture, the incunabula, disability studies, medical humanities



Andrea Denny-Brown (chair), John Ganim, Heidi Brayman


Research interests:

My dissertation studies the way medical writing communicated knowledge in late medieval England—in particular, the way it imparted medical knowledge to newly-literate, sickly readers who were neither physicians nor university-educated thinkers. English medical texts were often compiled by and intended for readers who consulted them in moments of personal bodily compromise. I argue that the immediate, material presence of the ailing body amidst these acts of writing and reading elicits an intensely affective, sympathetic connection, one that exists in the space between reader, text, and writer, and between body and language. My work focuses particularly on the textual and material forms—the remedy, the recipe collection, the almanac, and the herbal, among others—that structured attempts to negotiate between the ailing body and the texts that offered hope for a cure.


Recent Activity: 

Peer Reviewed Publications:

“Opening the Medieval Folding Almanac,” forthcoming in Exemplaria 30.1.


Awards and Honors:

Humanities Graduate Research Grant, Center for Ideas and Society, UC Riverside (March 2018)

Donald Howard Travel Scholarship, New Chaucer Society (February 2018)

Alumni Graduate Research Travel Award, UC Riverside (January 2018)


Selected Presentations:

“(Im)practical Magic: Middle English Recipe Compendiums and Everyday Recreation.” New Chaucer Society, Toronto, Canada (July 2018).

“‘A gracious remedé’: John Audelay’s Didactic Prescriptions.” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI (May 2018).

“‘Herbes of the gardyn and wedys of the feldys’: Vernacular Medical Instruction in The Grete Herball.” Early Modern Center, UC Santa Barbara, CA (March 2018).