Sandra Pierson Prior
English and Comparative Literature
Sandra Pierson Prior received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, and, after a long interval, returned to school to earn her graduate degrees in the Department of English at Columbia. After a brief period teaching at Queens College, CUNY, she came to Columbia. She directed the Logic and Rhetoric/Composition Program from 1987-2002, while teaching in the Core Curriculum (Logic and Rhetoric and Literature Humanities), as well as in her scholarly specialty of medieval literature. Since retirement a year later, she has taught Lit Hum several times.
Her early scholarly interests were principally in Middle English literature and the apocalyptic tradition. She has also worked on twelfth-century courtly literature and the discourse of romantic and sexual desire. She has published articles on Chaucer, Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, and the Pearl Poet, plus two books on the Pearl Poet. With Robert Stein, she co-edited a festschrift for Robert W. Hanning, Reading Medieval Culture (2005). For the last few years she has been working on a project on the parish community in Piers Plowman, placing the poem and its poet in the context of fourteenth-century English society.