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Bruce W. Holsinger is an American author, academic and literary scholar, professor of English at the University of Virginia and the author of A Burnable Book.[1]

Bruce Holsinger, a professor at the University of Virginia, started a hashtag called #Thanks for typing, collecting a series of notes by men in academia thanking their wives for typing their manuscripts, but rarely including their names...revealing an archive of unpaid and unrecognised academic labor hidden in the acknowledgments section.[2][3]

He is considered an expert on the use of parchment in medieval English manuscript production,[4] and organised, with bioarchaeologists from the University of York, the research project into uterine vellum which established the precise composition for the material used in for the creation of the earliest bible manuscripts.[5]

The New York Times described him as "gamekeeper turned poacher",[6] due to the fact that Holsinger, a professor[7] at the University of Virginia, specialising in medieval English literature, turned to writing fiction based around his academic interests.[6] His first novel was A Burnable Book in 2014. This was set in fourteenth-century England during the reign of King Richard II, and has Holsinger's protagonist John Gower—at the instigation of Geoffrey Chaucer[note 1]—hunt down a supposedly revolutionary book, in which a series of poems predict the deaths of the kings of England.[6] One of the most prominent characters is one Edgar Rykener—who is in-universe also called Eleanor—a man who dresses as a woman and has sex for money. This inclusion, says Holsinger, is directly based on the real-life case of John Rykener, which also occurred in 1394, the year Holsinger sets the events of his book.[9][10]

In February 2018 Holsinger was appointed editor of the University of Virginia's peer reviewed journal, New Literary History; he is the third member of staff to take the position since the journal's foundation in 1969.[7][note 2] He has written for the New York Review of Books,[11] the Washington Post[12] and op-eds for the New York Times.[13]


  1. ^ It has been surmised that Gower and Chaucer were probably good friends; certainly close enough for Chaucer to grant Gower power of attorney in the 1370s, and to dedicate his Troilus and Criseyde of ten years or so later to him also, where Chaucer refers to "O moral Gower.".[8]
  2. ^ The previous incumbents were Rita Felski and W. R. Kenan Jr.[7]


  1. ^ "LFC Hosts 2018 Literary Fest". Daily North Shore. 15 March 2018.
  2. ^ Dubenko, Anna; Dozois, Michelle L. (28 March 2017). "11 Great Reads That Have Nothing to Do With Politics". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Ladies, congratulations on surviving a total week from hell". Newsweek. 31 March 2017.
  4. ^ Horowitz, Kate (9 August 2017). "Scientists Devise Clever Way to Test Old Manuscripts' DNA". Mental Floss.
  5. ^ "Skin deep—researchers solve mystery of parchment origins". Science X. 4 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Dunant, Sarah (14 February 2014). "'A Burnable Book,' by Bruce Holsinger". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b c Heuchert, Dan; Bromley, Anne E. (20 February 2018). "Accolades: UVA Moot Court Team Advances to International Competition".
  8. ^ Urban, Malte (13 April 2018). "Fragments: Past and Present in Chaucer and Gower". Peter Lang – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Holsinger 2014, p. 440.
  10. ^ Karras & Linkinen 2016, pp. 117.
  11. ^ Holsinger, Bruce (25 November 2015). "Written on Beasts". The New York Review of Books.
  12. ^ Holsinger, Bruce (12 December 2014). "Book review: 'Gutenberg's Apprentice,' by Alix Christie". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ "Carly Fiorina Goes Medieval". The New York Times. 8 October 2015.
  • Holsinger, B. (2014). A Burnable Book. London: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-00-749331-9.
  • Karras, R. M.; Linkinen, T. (2016). "John / Eleanor Rykener Revisited". In Doggett, L E.; O'Sullivan, D. E. (eds.). Founding Feminisms in Medieval Studies: Essays in Honor of E. Jane Burns. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer. pp. 111–124. ISBN 978-1-84384-427-3.