Professor, English Literature
Jane Beal, PhD is a tenured, full Professor of English Literature at the University of La Verne, where she specializes in medieval and early modern English literature.
Exploring the intersectionality of literature, history, rhetoric, translation, and audience reception in medieval English culture, she has written the academic monograph John Trevisa and the English Polychronicon (ACMRS/Brepols, 2012) and co-edited the festschrift Translating the Past: Essays on Medieval Literature in Honor of Marijane Osborn (ACMRS, 2012). She has also edited and contributed to Illuminating Moses (2014), Illuminating Jesus (2019), and Illuminating Muhammad (in progress) for Brill’s Commentaria series on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the Middle Ages.
Her admiration for the exquisitely beautiful, fourteenth-century, Middle English dream vision poem called Pearl inspired her to write the academic monograph The Signifying Power of Pearl: Medieval Literary and Cultural Contexts for the Transformation of Genre (Routledge, 2017), to co-author and co-edit the pedagogical essay collection Approaches to Teaching the Middle English Pearl (Modern Language Association, 2018), and to edit and translate Pearl: A Middle English Edition and Modern English Translation (Broadview, 2020). She also edited and contributed to Becoming the Pearl-Poet: Perceptions, Connections, Receptions (Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming 2022), which considers all five poems attributed to the poet: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and St. Erkenwald.
In addition to her work on the Polychronicon and the Pearl-poet, she enjoys writing about the legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien. Her analyses of Tolkien’s work appear in The Journal of Tolkien Research, Mallorn: The Journal of the Tolkien Society, This Rough Magic, The Once and Future Classroom, and The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. In 2022-2023, she is taking a sabbatical in order to finish writing her newest book, Truth and Transformation in the Mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien.
She is not only a literary scholar, but also a prolific poet. Among her many poetry collections are Sanctuary (Finishing Line Press, 2008), Rising (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and Song of the Selkie (Aubade Publishing, 2020). She is a contributing poet and the editor of the poetry anthology, Hail, Radiant Star! Seven Medievalist Poets (Finishing Line Press, 2019).Origami Poems has published seven of her haiku micro-chapbooks: Journey, Garden, Bliss, Wide Awake and Dreaming, In the Santa Cruz Mountains, Songs of Water, and Wilderness. Her haiku, haibun, or haiga also appear in the Asahi Haikuist, Cold Moon Journal, Fireflies’ Light, Frogpond, Haibun Today, Haiku Journal, Illinois Audubon Society Magazine, Presence: Britain’s Independent Haiku Journal, and the anthology Earthrise (Haiku Foundation, 2021). Her poetry-and-music audio recording projects include “The Secret Life,” “Love-Song,” and, co-created with her brother, the saxophonist and composer, Andrew Beal, “The Jazz Bird,” available from iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
In addition to poetry, she writes magical realist fiction. Her short stories appear in Crux Literary Journal, Dappled Things, Literature Today, Pacific Review, and The Voices Project as well as the anthologies Law and Disorder: Stories of Conflict and Crime (Main Street Rag, 2014) and Draw Down the Moon: An Anthology of Short Stories (Propertius Press, 2021). She has completed two short story collections, Eight Stories from Undiscovered Countries (Lulu, 2009) and Hourglass: The San Quentin Short Stories (under review). She is now writing a novel.
Her creative non-fiction includes biographies of women writers about such luminaries as Christina Markyate, Marie de France, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Aemilia Lanyer, Queen Elizabeth I, and the American poet Ruth Stone. For Midwifery Today, she has written about the lives of midwives, including Biddy Mason, a Black pioneer midwife of nineteenth-century Los Angeles; Stanislawa Leszczynska, the midwife of Auschwitz; and Lanyero Karamela, an Acholi midwife of Uganda, East Africa, among others, as well as many essays on the history and practice of midwifery. She has published more than sixty lyric essays, combining memoir, research, and poetic imagery, in diverse publications online and in print.
Aiming to make her instruction creative, relevant, enjoyable, applicable, and memorable, she teaches a wide variety of courses at the University of La Verne, including:
- an introductory course to the English major, “Foundations of Linguistics: Historical, Social, Applied”
- survey courses that fulfill core requirements in the major, “English Literature I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Restoration” and “English Literature II: Romantic, Victorian, and Modern” as well as the elective survey, “Literature of the Bible”
- author courses like “Marie de France,” “Shakespeare,” and “Mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien”
- upper-division elective courses in the major, focused on popular genres, such as “Dream Visions,” “Fairy Tales,” “Magical Realism,” “Fantasy,” and “Science Fiction”
- and professionalization courses like “Internship for English Majors” as well as the required final course in the major, “Senior Capstone.”
She is trained to teach in person and online in synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid formats, designing courses and delivering instruction in a variety of modes to benefit students. Her courses fulfill undergraduate requirements in the English major and General Education, Gender and Sexuality Studies, French, and Theatre as well as graduate requirements in Education. As a mentor-teacher, she publishes on effective collegiate pedagogy in Humanities, SMART: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching, The Once and Future Classroom, This Rough Magic, and the Modern Language Association’s Approaches to Teaching series. With knowledge and enthusiasm, she seeks to appeal to people with diverse learning styles through her teaching and pedagogical publications. At all times, she loves to see her students learn, grow, and succeed.
She is past Chair of the English Department at the University of La Verne, which she led from 2019-2022 during the coronavirus pandemic. She is a current member of the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Professional Support Committee, which oversees faculty travel awards for conferences and subventions for publication. For the university, she teaches online in the summers for students in the traditional undergraduate university (TUG), Regional and Online Campuses (ROC), and Campus Accelerated Program for Adults (CAPA). For the profession, she is a presenter, organizer, and presider at sessions of the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies at the Western Michigan University and the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, England. She is professionally active in the Modern Language Association, Medieval Academy of America, Medieval Association of the Pacific, California Medieval History Seminar, Medieval Chronicle Society, Pearl-Poet Society, and Society for the Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages, for which she is past vice-president and president, and the Tolkien Society. For the community, she is a vocalist, flutist, and percussionist at a local church and a certified resource family for foster youth.
Her research, writing, and teaching have been generously supported by grants and fellowships from a variety of sources, including the University of La Verne, the University of California, Davis, and the Medieval Academy of America. This support has encouraged her primary research on medieval manuscripts, early printed books, and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. She has worked in the special collections of the Huntington Library, the Library of Congress Rosenwald Rare Books Room, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the University of Leeds Library, and the Wade Center as well as many other libraries. Through her publications with presses in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, China, and Japan, which have been made widely available both in print and online, her research has reached an international audience. Through her teaching, it has benefitted thousands of students whom she has taught across the country and around the world.
Professor Beal received her BA (Sonoma State University), MA (Sonoma State University), and PhD (University of California, Davis) in English, with concentrations in biblical literature, classical mythology, and medieval English literature, and an MFA in Creative Writing (Bay Path University). She has taken graduate seminars about Chaucer and medieval literature at UC Berkeley and about Latin, paleography, and codicology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. She also holds a Certificate in Midwifery from Mercy in Action College of Midwifery and a graduate Certificate in Narrative Medicine from Bay Path University. Before joining the University of La Verne, she served as a midwife in the U.S., Uganda, and the Philippines Islands and on the faculty at Wheaton College (near Chicago), Colorado Christian University (near Denver), and the University of California, Davis (between San Francisco and Sacramento) as well as the University of California Washington Center (in Washington, D.C.). To learn more about her and her work, please visit:
- B.A., Sonoma State University
- M.A., Sonoma State University
- Ph.D., University of California, Davis
- M.F.A., Bay Path University
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