Michelle Karnes is an associate professor in the English department at Notre Dame. She works on late medieval literature and philosophy and is now studying the role of marvels in both.
In her current book, “Medieval Marvels and Fictions,” Karnes studies theories of marvels in natural philosophy in tandem with those of romance, focusing on philosophers such as Avicenna and Thomas Aquinas alongside literary texts like One Thousand and One Nights and the Floris and Blancheflour tradition. It shows that philosophy’s truthfulness and literature’s fictiveness have more in common than we think—a point that marvels make especially well. They are, by definition, truths that seem false, and they therefore call attention to the contested line between what is real and what is not.
Karnes received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages (University of Chicago Press, 2011).