Jordan Kirk

Associate Professor of English
  • Expertise


    Jordan Kirk is a scholar of medieval literature. He studies limit-experiences of knowledge and the ways that they have been described, engineered, and transmitted. For example: unintelligible signs and their effects on the mind; premodern psychotropics; the spiritual role of homosexuality; Madhyamaka; ancient intercontinental communication networks; pornographic illumination; ironic metaphor and metaphorical irony; initiation; homeopathic potentization; techniques of ecstasy; transmission through ruins. Ultimately, he is interested in the role that the ‘eminently telepathic phenomenon’ (=reading) plays in our realization of the nature of reality.

    His first book is about the theory and practice of non-signification in medieval poetry, linguistics, mystical contemplation, and sacramental theology. It is called Medieval Nonsense: Signifying Nothing in Fourteenth-Century England and was published by Fordham University Press in 2021.

    His second book, The Kaoma Theorem, is a collection of fragments on philology, mind, and eros drawn from notebooks spanning two decades. It appeared in 2022 as the first publication by Teorema Press, an editorial project with which he is involved.

    He is currently working on a sequence of intertwined commentaries under the title A Science of Garlands.

    Research Interests

    • Middle English literature (1100–1500)
    • The history of linguistic ideas
    • Nonsense, proof, divination, ritual
    • Continental philosophy
    • Chaucer
  • Work


    • The Kaoma Theorem. Los Angeles: Teorema Press, 2022.
    •  Medieval Nonsense: Signifying Nothing in Fourteenth-Century England. New York: Fordham University Press, 2021.
    • “Buba, Blictrix, Bufbaf: Medieval Theory and Practice of Nonsense.” In The Edinburgh Companion to Nonsense, edited by Anna Barton and James Williams. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021.
    • “The Hideous Noise of Prayer: The Cloud of Unknowing on the Syllable-Word.” Exemplaria 28.2 (2016): 97–117.
    • “What Separates the Birth of Twins.” Glossator 5 (2011): 1-18.
  • Education


    Ph.D. Princeton University

    M.A. Princeton University

    B.A. New York University

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Dream Lore
    • The Beyond of Language
    • The Canterbury Tales
    • Medieval Drugs
    • Medieval Proof: Test, Trial, Experiment
    • The Spell of Reality
    • How to Really Read a Book
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2022