Mark Vessey studied English at Cambridge (BA 1980) and later Latin literature, Roman history and Latin patristics at the Université de Paris-IV (Sorbonne) and Oxford (DPhil 1988), before joining the Department of English at UBC as an I.W. Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 1989. He was appointed to a position in the Department in 1990 and to a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Literature / Christianity and Culture in 2001, which he held until 2011. He was awarded a Killam Research Prize (Senior Arts Category) at UBC in 2005 and served as Associate Head (Graduate) of the Department of English from 2005 until 2008. He has been a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and Visiting Professor of Augustinian Studies at Villanova University, Philadelphia. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Collected Works of Erasmus (University of Toronto Press), the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum (PIMS, Toronto), Erasmus Studies (Brill) and the Journal of Late Antiquity (Johns Hopkins UP), and of the Council of the International Association of Patristic Studies. He gave the 2013 Bristol-Blackwell Lectures in Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition at Bristol University (“Writing before Literature: Later Latin Scriptures and the Memory of Rome”) and the Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Boston. Since 2008 he has been Principal of Green College at UBC.
In 2021-22 I am offering a graduate seminar entitled “A Doomed Subject? Criticism after 100 Years, and What We Do Now.”
A book on (St) Jerome and literature. Annotations on the Gospel of St Luke and Patristic Scholarship (besides the edition of St Jerome) for the series of Collected Works of Erasmus (in English) published by University of Toronto Press.
Co-applicant and team leader for Early Modern Conversions: Religions, Cultures, Cognitive Ecologies, international collaborative research project (2013-18), funded by a partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: www.earlymodernconversions.com
Areas of specialization
Literary and intellectual culture of Latin late antiquity (4th to 6th centuries, esp. Jerome and Augustine); classical and Christian literary traditions; literary and intellectual culture of the Northern Renaissance (esp. Erasmus); sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature; histories of literary history, theory and criticism; history of scholarship and academic disciplines; histories of books and libraries.
Recent and forthcoming publications
- “Literature and the Church in the Post-Constantinian Empire.” Forthcoming in The Cambridge History of Later Latin Literature. Ed. Gavin Kelly and Aaron Pelttari. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
- “Epilogue: The Critical Opportunity of Later Latin Literature in the Twentieth Century.” Forthcoming in The Cambridge History of Later Latin Literature. Ed. Gavin Kelly and Aaron Pelttari. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
- “Erasmus and the Church Fathers.” Forthcoming in A Companion to Erasmus. Ed. Eric MacPhail. Leiden: Brill.
- “A Critical Juncture: ‘Later’ Latin Literature, the Newest Late Antiquity, and the Period of the Western Classic.” Forthcoming in JOLCEL: Journal of Latin Cosmopolitanism and European Literatures (online open access).
- (as editor and contributor) Erasmus on Literature: His ‘Ratio’ or System of 1518/1519. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2021.
- “Ausonius at the Edge of Empire”Consular Poetics as Cognitive Improvisation. Empire and Religion in the Roman World. Ed. Harriet I. Flower. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2021. 187–211.
- “Rewilding Augustine: Codex Ecology, the Speculum, and the (Late) De doctrina christiana.” The Late (Wild) Augustine. Augustinus – Werk und Wirkung 11. Ed. Christopher Blunda and Susanna Elm. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöning, 2021. 23–47.
- “Boethius in the Genres of the Book: Philology, Theology, Codicology.” Classical Philology and Theology: Entanglement, Disavowal, and the Godlike Scholar. Ed. Catherine Conybeare and Simon Goldhill. Cambridge University Press, 2021. 149–79.
- “Face Book of the Common Reader? Prosopography and Self-Recognition in Augustine’s Confessions.” Fide Non Ficta: Essays in Memory of Paul B. Harvery, Jr. John D. Mucigrosso and Ceila E. Schultz. Biblioteca di Athenaeum 64. Bari: Edipuglia, 2020. 91-113.
- “Reading (in) Augustine’s Confessions.” Cambridge Companion to Augustine’s ‘Confessions’. Ed. Tarmo Toom. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2020. 317-34
- “Sidonius Apollinaris Writes Himself Out: Aut(hol)ograph and Architext in Late Roman Codex Society.” Das Christentum im frühen Europa: Diskurs – Tendenzen – Entscheidungen. Ed. Uta Heil. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019. 117–54.
- “Erasmus (1515) between the Bible and the Fathers: Threshold of a Hermeneutic.” Crossing Traditions: Essays on the Reformation and Intellectual History in Honour of Irena Backus. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions 212. Ed. Maria-Cristina Pitassi and Daniela Solfaroli Camilloci. Leiden: Brill, 2018. 133-48.
- “A More Radical Renaissance: Erasmus’ Novum instrumentum (1516) in Its Time and Ours.” Erasmus Studies 37 (2017): 23-44.
- “Basel 1514: Erasmus’ Critical Turn.” Basel 1516: Erasmus’ Edition of the New Testament. Ed. Kaspar von Greyerz, Silvana Seidel Menchi and Martin Wallraff. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016. 3-26.
- “Classicism and Christianity.” Vol. 3 (1558–1660) of the Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature. Ed. Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 103-28.
- “Literature, Histories, Latin Late Antiquity: The State of a Question.” Spätantike Konzeptionen von Literatur – Notions of the Literary in Late Antiquity. Ed. Jan R. Stenger. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2015. 19-31.
- “ ‘La patristique, c’est autre chose’: André Mandouze, Peter Brown and the Avocations of Patristics as a Philological Science.’ Patristic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: Proceedings of an International Conference to Mark the 50th Anniversary of the International Association of Patristic Studies. Ed. Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Theodor de Bruyn and Carol Harrison. Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 423-52.
- “Literary History: A Fourth-Century Invention?” Literature and Society in the Fourth Century AD: Performing Paideia, Constructing the Present, Presenting the Self. Ed. Peter Van Nuffelen and Lieve Van Hoof. Mnemosyne Supplements. Leiden: Brill, 2015. 16-30.
- “‘Nothing if Not Critical’: G.E.B. Sainstbury, Erasmus, and (English) Literary History.” Erasmus and the Renaissance Republic of Letters. Ed. Stephen Ryle. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014. 425-53.
- (as editor) A Companion to Augustine. Chichester (UK) and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Reissued in paperback with corrections, 2015.
- (as editor) The Calling of the Nations: Exegesis, Ethnography, and Empire in a Biblical-Historic Present. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.