Department of History
New York University
Sarah Kay is Professor Emerita in the Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture at New York University and Life Fellow at Girton College, University of Cambridge. Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Professor Kay researched and taught the literatures of medieval France in universities in Britain and the United States, including at Cambridge, Princeton, and New York University. Her work ranges over the centuries and genres of medieval literature, including heroic poetry, troubadour lyric, courtly literature, hagiography, and didactic literature.
A project with Adrian Armstrong evaluated the role of poetry in transmitting and shaping knowledge after the so-called “rise of prose” of the early thirteenth century won the support of the U.K.’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. Among the books this project produced were its capstone publication, Knowing Poetry. Verse in Medieval France from the Rose to the Rhétoriqueurs (Cornell, 2011), co-authored by Adrian with the help of our research associates, and Parrots and Nightingales (UPenn, 2013), which studies the role played by quotations from the troubadours in changing European conceptions of poetry. Kay has been a fellow of the British Academy since 2004 and was awarded a D.Litt. (Cambridge) in 2005.
In Spring 2023, she was Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Columbia Society of Senior Scholars.