Department of English

University of Toronto

Robins, William

William Robins
President of Victoria Univers
ity; Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies; Graduate Faculty; Undergraduate Instructor

Office Phone:
Office Location: Victoria College, Northrop Frye Hall, Room 226
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: Mondays, 11:15 am-12:00 pm and by appointment

B.A. (Brown), M.Phil. (St. Andrews), Ph.D. ( Princeton)

William Robins is President of Victoria University, and Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. His research, which spans from Late-Antiquity through the Middle Ages to the Italian Renaissance, tracks the circulation of literary texts as they are transmitted and transformed across national borders, bibliographic media and linguistic communities. He elucidates how cultures engage, develop and reshape the stories of their historical predecessors—and how they use the knowledge of the past to innovate new ways of understanding their present. These research goals currently converge in two major projects: a wide-ranging analysis of Boccaccio’s Decameron and its intertextual networks in fourteenth and fifteenth century Europe, part of which is forthcoming for publication in Speculum; and a comprehensive study of Apollonius of Tyre and its influence on the literary and socio-cultural practices of Medieval and Renaissance Italy, which is supported by funding from SSHRC. His previous contributions include two edited collections—Textual Cultures of Medieval Italy, and Sacred and Profane in Chaucer and Late Medieval Literature—as well as a critical edition of Antonio Pucci’s Cantari della Reina d’Oriente.

Professor Robins similarly fuses book history, literary analysis and cultural criticism in the classroom, for which he earned the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts and Science in 2014. He has directed academic gradutae programs in Book History and Print Culture and in Editing Medieval Texts, and he is the founder and coordinator of the annual Canada Chaucer Seminar. As President of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Robins strives to forge lasting collaborations among students, faculty members, and members of the wider community as he publicly champions the values of liberal education, social conscience, and humanistic inquiry.


Textual Cultures of Medieval Italy. Edited by William Robins. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011.

Sacred and Profane in Chaucer and Late Medieval Literature: Essays in Honour of John V. Fleming. Edited by Robert Epstein and William Robins. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2010.

Antonio Pucci: I cantari della Reina d' Oriente, edizioni critiche, with Attilio Motta Bologna: Commissione per i Testi di Lingua, 2007.

Representative Articles

“The Case of the Court Entertainer: Popular Culture, Intertextual Dialogue, and the Early Circulation of Boccaccio’s Decameron,” Speculum, forthcoming.

“The Proemium in Historia Apollonii: A Possible Source for the Decameron,” Carte Romanze 3 (2015): 259–79.

“Three Tales of Female Same-Sex Marriage: Ovid's ‘Iphis and Ianthe,’ the Old French Yde et Olive, and Antonio Pucci's Reina d'Oriente.” Exemplaria 21.1 (2009): 43–62.

“Editing and Evolution,” Literature Compass 3 (2006): 89–120.

“Romance and Renunciation at the Turn of the Fifth Century.” Journal of Early Christian Studies, 8 (2000): 531–58.

“Romance, Exemplum, and the Subject of the Confessio Amantis,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 19 (1997): 157–81.

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