Debra Best

Debra Best

Debra Best

Department Chair


Contact Information
Office: LaCorte Hall, E-309

Office Hours for Fall 2020
All office hours are held online. Please contact via email.


Debra Best received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina and her B.A. in English from Pomona College. Her specialties are Medieval and Early Modern literature. Her research interests intertwine the study of Middle English romance, the medieval family, fifteenth-century responses to the Crusades, humor, and the function of monsters in literary texts. She teaches courses in early British literature, including Chaucer and Shakespeare, as well as poetry and the introduction to graduate studies.

Selected Recent Publications:

  • ‘”A lowed laghtur that lady logh’: Laughter, Smiles, and Sarcasm in Middle English Romance.” In Cornering the Snarket: Snark and Sarcasm in Medieval Literature. Eds. Alan Baragona and Elizabeth L. Rambo. Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. pp. 143-164.
  • “Giant Threats and Types of Giants: A Foundation for Teaching Medieval Monsters.” Medieval Perspectives 30 (2015): 61-80.
  • “Chaucer’s Sir Olifaunt and the Knowledge of Humorous Romance Giants.” Medieval Perspectives 25 (2012): 21-30.
  • “Monsters of Medieval England: A Course Outline.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching 17 (2010): 61-81.
  • “Monstrous Alterity and Christian Conversion in the Middle English The Sowdone of Babylone.” Medieval Perspectives 19 (2004): 42-63.
  • “The Monster in the Family: A Reconsideration of Frankenstein’s Domestic Relationships.” Women’s Writing 6.3 (1999): 365-84. Rpt. Frankenstein. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea, 2004. 215-35.

Selected Recent Presentations:

  • “Proof of the Existence of Giants in the Middle Ages.” With Dr. Elizabeth Dachowski, Tennessee State University. International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS). Kalamazoo, MI. May 2019.
  • “Performing the Monstrous: Loathly Ladies, Saracen Princesses, and Transformed Monsters in Middle English Romance.” Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association. Bellingham, WA. November 2018.
  • “The Fantasy Space of Medieval History: The Case of Chaucer, Gower, and Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book.” International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, MI. May 2017.
  • “Preserving Charlemagne in the Fifteenth-Century Middle English Charlemagne Legends.” Medieval Association of the Pacific. Los Angeles, CA. March 2017.
  • “The Female Other, The Loathly Lady, and the Transformed Monster: Monstrous Women of Middle English Romance.” Fifteenth Biennial Romance in Medieval Britain Conference. Vancouver, BC. August 2016.
  • ‘”A lowed laghtur that lady logh’: Laughter, Smiles, and Sarcasm in Middle English Romance.” International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, MI. May 2016.

Undergraduate Courses Taught:

ENG 302: English Literature to 1642

ENG 305: Critical Reading of Literature

ENG 307: Practice in Literary Criticism

ENG 325: Poetry

ENG 326: Prose Fiction

ENG 327: Drama

ENG 350: Advanced Composition

ENG 465: Chaucer

ENG 467: Shakespeare

ENG 476: Individual Authors and Topics, pre-1700: Arthur and Robin Hood

Graduate Seminars Taught:

ENG 501: Advanced Studies in Literature (focusing on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)

ENG 530: Arthur and Robin Hood

ENG 530: Arthurian Literature

ENG 530: Chaucer and His World

ENG 530:Medieval Love

ENG 530: Medieval Monsters Old English