Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe

Professor
2014-2015
Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe

Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (English) specializes in the literary culture of early medieval England. Her current project, Appraising the Senses in Anglo-Saxon England, investigates valuation of the senses and the organs of sense in the early English religious and legal worlds.  Early medieval discussion of the senses understood them as portals through which sensory impressions of the material world could reach the immaterial soul, thus enacting liminal processes connecting the corporeal and the incorporeal. Because the senses staged the meeting of immaterial soul with material world, they were, in religious discourse, sites for surveillance and regulation. O’Brien O’Keeffe’s project also engages the English development of Common Germanic law on injuries done to the senses and organs of sense and later borrowings from canon law that employed the senses for punishment, where maiming made the flesh a means of redemption.