Dr. John Black

Associate Professor of English

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of North Carolina


Department Members:

Joyce Hinnefeld, Chair
John Black
Theresa Dougal
Crystal N. Fodrey
Martha Reid
Christopher Shorr
Nicole Anne Tabor
George Diamond


Dr. Black’s specialty is medieval English literature and culture. His particular interests are Old and Middle English literature, hagiography, constructions of sanctity, sacred landscape, and the interplay of text and image in medieval art. At Moravian, Dr. Black teaches courses in medieval English literature and culture and in the history of the English language, as well as the department's ‘gateway’ course in English Studies for majors and minors. He has published on Old English homiletic writing, on accounts of the saints in Old English, Middle English, and medieval Latin narratives, and on the interplay of text and image in medieval hagiography. In his professional community, Dr. Black is a member of the Medieval Academy, the Modern Language Association, the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, the International Center of Medieval Art, the Early English Text Society, the Hagiography Society, the Delaware Valley Medieval Association, and the Southeastern Medieval Association. He also participates in the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges Consortial Lectures program.

At Moravian, Dr. Black regularly participates in the shared governance of the College through his service on various committees and on other projects in support of the College. He has served as Co-Chair for the First-Year Seminar program since its inception in 2010. He also serves as Co-Director of the Medieval Studies Minor, faculty advisor to The Medieval Society, an academic advisor for majors in the English/Education program and for first-year students, and a mentor in Honors and Independent Study projects. He is active in promoting opportunities for students to engage in undergraduate research, study abroad, and extra-mural learning.

Dr. Black has participated in a summer National Endowment for the Humanities seminar for research and teaching at the University of Cambridge entitled, “Holy Men and Holy Women of Anglo-Saxon England” (2006) and in a summer program in early Irish language and culture (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland; 2011). At Moravian, he has received the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching (2007) and the Omicron Delta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching (2008). He shared an Impact Award (2007, with Prof. Sandy Bardsley in History), presented in recognition of his work in organizing the inaugural Moravian College Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The Conference has become an annual event, attracting more than 200 participants to the College each December since 2006. In recent summers, Dr. Black has done volunteer work on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona, participated in an archeological expedition in Israel/Palestine, biked on Orkney, taken ‘writing retreats’ in San Francisco and Vancouver, made a conference presentation and done research in the North of England, and hiked in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

With respect to teaching and learning, Dr. Black writes, “I have enjoyed working with students in a wide variety of courses in a diverse range of classroom settings – from courses in medieval literature and college writing for undergraduates at Moravian, Georgetown, and UNC-Chapel Hill; to Old English language and literature with graduate students at North Carolina State University; to basic composition in a transitional program at UNC-Chapel Hill for selected first-year minority students arriving at a major university from smaller, less-privileged high school;, to ESL with college students and adults in Shijiazhuang, China; to the standard range of subjects with fifth-graders on the Hopi Reservation in northeast Arizona. In the whole of my experience working with students, while the situations and individuals have varied widely, one theme seems common enough: a successful teacher must first meet the challenges of working creatively and resourcefully to meet students ‘where they are’ in order to help them question and explore a new range of ‘destinations’ with regard to mastery of content and application of critical thinking and writing skills. This ‘bridge’ metaphor is as challenging as it is obvious. Such an approach to learning is most often a matter of daily re-commitment - the bridge is under perpetual renewal - but I build and maintain this bridge because I want to motivate students to discover and develop their power to create and invest their lives and their communities with meaning. Much of what ‘is,’ is constructed - too often not for the best – and can therefore be reconstructed in ways that better reflect our ideals. Learning should, among its many goals, prepare students with the skills, experiences, and convictions necessary for the formation of their own roles in promoting a society in which all persons may live fully and graciously.”