Skip to main content

John McNamara

Faculty directory »


Professor John McNamara

John McNamara teaches the medieval languages and literatures of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He regularly offers courses in Old and Middle English (especially on Beowulf and the Art of Translation and on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), Surveys of British Literature (as Distance Education courses) and Irish Literature, both early and modern. He has also conducted special topics courses in Old Norse/Icelandic, Old and Modern Irish, and Medieval Latin. In addition, Professor McNamara has taught seminars in the History of Literary Theory and in Cultural Theory and Criticism. His recent research and publications have been on Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Latin, and Middle Scots literature and folklore (including saints’ legends). He is also co-editor, with Carl Lindahl (University of Houston) and John Lindow (University of California, Berkeley), of Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia, 2 vols. (ABC-Clio, 2000), now in a revised edition (Oxford University Press, 2002). More recently, he has published an edition, featuring his own verse translation, of Beowulf (Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005), with an introductory essay and notes focusing on the epic in oral tradition. He is currently working on the oral circulation of early Irish saints’ legends. In addition, he has twice won the University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award, and he has also been selected for the Master Teacher Award of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.


  • Ph.D., Louisiana State University
  • M.A., Marquette University
  • A.B., Spring Hill College

back to top

Research Interests

Medieval Languages and Literatures of England, Ireland, and Scotland; Cultural Theory and Criticism

Current Project

Processes of Oral Tradition in Early Irish Saints’ Legends

back to top

Selected Publications


  • Co-editor, with Carl Lindahl and John Lindow, Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia, 2 vols. (ABC-Clio, 2000; revised edition, Oxford University Press, 2002).
  • Translator and Editor, Beowulf (Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005).

back to top


Recent Courses

  • English 3328, British Literature II
  • English 3396, Early Irish Literature
  • English 6361, Beowulf and the Art of Translation

back to top