NJIT's Burt Kimmelman Earns Praise for Exploring a Medieval Poet's Legacy

Written by: Jesse Jenkins,
Burt Kimmelman, professor of English at NJIT, has garnered accolades for examining Guillaume de Machaut’s work as a medieval poet.

A new book co-edited by Burt Kimmelman, professor of English at New Jersey Institute of Technology, has garnered accolades for examining how Guillaume de Machaut’s work as a medieval poet influenced the craft of story-telling long after the Middle Ages.

Burt Kimmelman's Machaut's Legacy

The collection of scholarly essays, titled Machaut’s Legacy: The Judgment Poetry Tradition in the Later Middle Ages and Beyond, explores how the poet’s innovative approaches to literary form led ultimately to the development of the novel, influencing authors towards the end of the medieval epoch, and on even into the postmodern era.

“Guillaume de Machaut, in our time better known as a great musician and composer, was also a prolific and innovative author; only now is his extensive sway over younger writers being fully recognized,” said Kimmelman, whose new book has already received acclaim from world-renowned scholars excited about the volume’s entirely new approach to understanding the origins of narrative after the fourteenth century, then the Renaissance, and onward to our own time.

“This richly erudite volume contextualizes Machaut as a seminal medieval poet whose work extends its reach well into the modern era,” said Lynn T. Ramey, author of Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages. Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, author of A New History of Medieval French Literature, considers various medieval literary forms when describing Machaut’s Legacy as “an ambitious work that seeks, with great acuity, the origin of the kind of ‘novel’ in the dit and not in the romaunt.” 

Calling the book “truly brilliant,” William Calin, author of The Lily and the Thistle: The French Tradition and the Older Literature of Scotland, explains that Machaut’s Legacy “makes a claim to a paradigm shift in how we envisage the history of literature.”

Kimmelman has previously received recognition for nine published collections of poetry, which have been featured on National Public Radio, recited by Garrison Keillor. His monograph, The Poetics of Authorship in the Later Middle Ages (1996, 1999), continues to be referenced by scholars in the field. He teaches literary and cultural studies in NJIT’s Humanities department.

 "Machaut’s Legacy was published by the University Press of Florida; it was co-edited by R. Barton Palmer, Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University.