Associate Professor

Sarah Tolmie

PhD, University of Cambridge
MA, University of Toronto
BA, University of Toronto

Extension: 36795
Office: HH 266


Sarah Tolmie is an Associate Professor who was trained as a medievalist at the University of Toronto and Cambridge. She teaches medieval and early modern literature, general British literature, and creative writing. Her research interests are in historiography, visionary poetry and embodiment. She has published articles on Middle English and Scots literature, as well as on Langland’s Piers Plowman.

She is also a poet and speculative fiction writer. Her most recent novel with Aqueduct Press, in 2019, is The Little Animals, an alternate history of science starring Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, the 17th-century Dutch microscopist, and the goose girl from the Brothers’ Grimm. Her second collection of poems from McGill-Queen’s, The Art of Dying, was a finalist for the 2018 Griffin Prize, while her first, Trio, was shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Award in 2016. Her other works of fiction with Aqueduct Press include the two-novella collection Two Travelers, the linked short story collection NoFood, and the novel The Stone Boatmen, shortlisted for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2015. Her work has appeared in Year’s Best Canadian Poetry in EnglishYear’s Best Weird FictionThe New QuarterlyGrainStrange HorizonsOn Spec and The Canadian Literary Review.

Readings, events and media can be found on her author site at

Selected Publications

The Art of Dying, poetry collection, McGill-Queen’s UP, forthcoming 2018.

Two Travelers, novellas, Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2016.

NoFood, short fiction, Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2014

The Stone Boatmen, novel, Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2014.

Sonnet in a Blue Dress and Other Poems, chapbook, Baseline Press, London, 2014.

Guest editor, with Randy Harris, of Metaphor and Symbol, special issue on Cognitive Allegory, 2011.

“The Book of the World as I Found It: Langland’s Piers Plowman and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 20.4 (2008).

“Langland, Wittgenstein and the Language Game,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 22 (2008).

"The Professional: Thomas Hoccleve,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 29 (2007): 341-73.

"Sacrilege, Sacrifice and John Barbour’s Bruce,” International Review of Scottish Studies 32 (2007): 7-32.

"Langland, Wittgenstein and the End of Language,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 20 (2006): 115-39.

"The Priue Scilence of Thomas Hoccleve,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 22 (2000): 281-309.

Fellowships & Awards

  • 2015. Canada Council, Mid-Career Writer's Grant for the novel The Little Animals
  • 2014. Ontario Arts Council, In-Progress Grant for  the novel The Little Animals
  • 2014. University of Utrecht, Descartes Centre for the History of Science, Junior Fellowship
  • 2012 Ontario Arts Council In-Progress grant for the sonnet sequence Trio.
  • 2010-12. Lois Claxton/Robert Hardyng Award, The Salvation Suit.
  • 2010-11. SSHRCC Research-Creation Grant, The Salvation Suit, 4A
  • 2009-10. SSHRCC Research-Development Grant, The Salvation Suit, 4A
  • 2008. Grain Prize, Dramatic Monologue
  • 2007. UW Travel Grant

Current Research

I have just completed a novel about the natural philosopher and microscopist Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek. The Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science in Utrecht hosted me as a fellow for two months in 2015 in connection with this project, for which I am extremely grateful. I will be back in Utrecht this summer in 2017 doing some research on James Boswell’s life in law school in the city; I am also writing a book about the 15th-century poet Thomas Hoccleve.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • Middle English literature and historiography
  • Middle Scots literature and historiography
  • Premodern theory of mind and embodiment
  • Creative writing
  • Cognitive poetics
University of Waterloo

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