Johanna Kramer

Johanna Kramer holding a parchment
Associate Professor
206 Tate
Areas of Study: 
English Language and Linguistics
Medieval Literature
Research and Teaching: 

Office Hours: by appointment. Please contact me by email.

Areas of Research and Teaching: Old English language and literature; Anglo-Latin literature; early medieval hagiography and homilies; prose writings; folklore and popular religion; proverbs in literature; history of the English language; history and culture of Anglo-Saxon England; Germanic languages and literatures

Johanna Kramer (she/her) is interested in all things early medieval, but particularly in Old English religious literature, with a research focus on saints' lives, homilies, expressions of Christian (especially patristic) theology, popular religion, and folklore. Ongoing interests are the influence of patristic theology on later writings, the history of ideas, the intersections of diverse literary cultures, and the interaction of genres within single texts. In this vein, her current book project, expanding beyond the early Middle Ages, examines the rhetorical and polemical functions of proverbs in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.Kramer et al. Book Cover Anonymous Old English Lives of Saints

Her most recent publication, a collaborative edition and translation of anonymous Old English prose saints' lives, appeared this May in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series: Johanna Kramer, Hugh Magennis, and Robin Norris, eds. and trans., Anonymous Old English Lives of Saints, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 63 (Harvard University Press, 2020). 

Kramer Book Cover Between earth and heaven


Her first monograph, Between Earth and Heaven: Liminality and the Ascension of Christ in Anglo-Saxon Literature (Manchester UP, 2014; paperback 2017), examines how concepts of space, boundaries, and liminality are employed by early medieval authors to teach the theology of the Ascension in a wide range of Old English and Anglo-Latin texts.

Between Earth and Heaven won the 2016 Best First Book Prize, awarded by the Southeastern Medieval Association (SEMA). To learn more about the book and Professor Kramer's research, see this article and video presentation in MU's Illumination Magazine.


At MU, Professor Kramer is a member of the lively and active field of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS); to learn more about MARS, including the undergraduate and graduate minors, click here.

She is also involved in the long-term project Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture (SASLC), which aims to produce a comprehensive and descriptive list of all authors known in Britain between ca. 500 and 1100 C.E.

Professor Kramer received her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Cornell University and has also studied at the University of Munich in her native Germany, the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK), and Oregon State University (B.A. and M.A. English).

Besides rummaging through dead languages, she enjoys collecting sands and eating German (especially Swabian) foods.

  • PhD Medieval Studies, Cornell University, 2006
  • MA Medieval Studies, Cornell University, 2002
  • MA English, Oregon State University, 1998
  • BA English, Oregon State University, 1995
Select Publications: 


Selected Other Publications

  • Johanna Kramer. "Mapping the Anglo-Saxon Intellectual Landscape: The Old English Maxims I and Terence's Proverb ‘Quot homines, tot sententiae.’" Anglia: Zeitschrift für Englische Philologie 128 (Oct. 2010): 48-74.
  • Johanna Kramer. "The Study of Proverbs in Anglo-Saxon Literature: Recent Scholarship, Resources for Research, and the Future of the Field." Literature Compass 6.1 (2009): 71-96. Abstract here. 
  • Johanna Kramer. "'Falsett no feit hes'—A Proverb in William Dunbar's 'In vice most vicius he excellis.'" English Studies 89.3 (June 2008): 263-72.
  • Johanna Kramer. "Thu eart se weallstan': Architectural Metaphor and Christological Imagery in the Old English Christ I and the Book of Kells." Source of Wisdom: Old English and Early Medieval Latin Studies in Honour of Thomas D. Hill, ed. Charles D. Wright, Frederick M. Biggs, and Thomas N. Hall (U of Toronto P, 2007). 90-112.
Awards and Honors: 
  • Davidson Faculty Fellow, Department of English, 2020-21
  • Susan Kircher Faculty Fellow, Department of English, 2018-19
  • SEC Faculty Travel Grant, 2016-17
  • Dumbarton Oaks Library Short-Term Residential Fellowship, Spring 2016
  • Research Board Grant, University of Missouri, 2016
  • Large Grant and Summer Research Fellowship, Research Council, University of Missouri, Summer/Fall 2015
  • Research Leave, Research Council, University of Missouri, 2015-16
  • Faculty International Travel Grant, University of Missouri, 2009
  • Research Board Grant, University of Missouri, 2008-09
  • EGSA Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award, 2008
  • Summer Research Fellowship, Research Council, University of Missouri, Summer 2007
  • Center for Arts and Humanities Travel Grant, University of Missouri, 2006
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, 2004-05