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Jonathan Evans

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Professor, Department of English
Professor, Department of Linguistics
Director, Medieval Studies Program
Member, Environmental Ethics Faculty

Jonathan Evans is a professor of medieval languages and literature in the Department of English and the Department of Linguistics.  He received a B.A. in English from Asbury College (1976), an M.A. in English from Indiana University (1978), a Doctoral Certificate from the Indiana University Medieval Studies Program (1982), and a Ph.D in British Literature from Indiana University (1984). He was a Visiting Lecturer in the Indiana University Living-Learning Center (1982) and a Visiting Associate Professor in the Linguistics Program at Emory University (2006).  He has taught courses on early English and medieval languages and literature, fantasy literature, and environmental literature at the University of Georgia from 1984 to the present; he has taught First-Year Odyssey Seminars on various topics including environmental literature and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.  His most recent Maymester course (2019) was on "The Languages of Middle-earth": Quenya, Sindarin, Adûnaic, Khuzdul (Dwarvish), Westron, Entish, etc.

He is the editor of a volume of Semiotica entitled Semiotica Mediaevalia (1987), coeditor of the annual proceedings of the Semiotic Society of America (1982, 1983, 1986), and coeditor of Semiotics and International Scholarship: Towards A Language of Theory (1986). He has published essays and reviews in numerous reference works and edited collections including The Facts on File Companion to Pre-1600 British Poetry (2008), The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia (2007), J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances (2000), The Encyclopedia of Medieval Folklore (2000), Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia (1993), the Dictionary of Literary Biography (1990), and Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Sourcebook and Research Guide (1987).  At the risk of seeming otiose: his articles on medieval literature and contemporary theory have appeared in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology (2000), NOWELE: North-Western European Language Evolution (2000), the Journal of English Linguistics (1999), The Simms Review (1999), Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts (1998), Semiotica (1986, 1987), Poetics Today (1987), Style (1986), and the Journal of Folklore Research (1985).  His article, "Beowulf's Bane, Fáfnir, and the Firedrake of Erebor: Proverbial Dragons and the Implicatures of Pragmatic Discourse," was published in Literary Speech Acts of the Medieval North: Essays Inspired by the Works of Thomas A. Shippey, (Arizona: ACMRS, 2020).  His review article, "The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and The Lord of The Rings, and: Light Beyond All Shadow: Religious Experience in Tolkien's Work" was published in Tolkien Studies 9 (2012); his review of Claudio Testi's Pagan Saints in Middle-earth was published in the online Journal of Tolkien Research (2019). His essay "Wörter, Sachen, und Wahrheit: Philology and the Tree of Language in Tolkien" was published in Constructing Nations, Reconstructing Myth: Essays in Honour of T.A. Shippey (Amsterdam: Brepols, 2007). His study of racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth was published in Tolkien the Medievalist as "The Anthropology of Arda: Creation, Theology, and the Race of Men" (New York: Routledge 2003). His essay titled "'As Rare as They Are Dire': Old Norse Dragons, Jacob Grimm, and the Deutsche Mythologie" was published in The Shadow-Walkers: Jacob Grimm's Mythology of the Monstrous (Arizona State Univ./Brepols, 2005).

Dr. Evans's textbook, An Introduction to Old English (New York: Modern Language Association, 2020; 770 + xxxii pp.; ISBN: 978-160-3293-112) was published in the MLA's "Older Languages" series in early 2021 and was reviewed positively in The Medieval Review. His Dragons: Myth and Legend (Ivy Press, 2008) is a lavishly-illustrated and modern popular retelling of 20 myths and legends concerning dragons and dragon slayers from ancient, classical, and medieval myth, legend, literature and folklore.  Previously, he co-authored Ents, Elves, and Eriador: J.R.R. Tolkien's Environmental Vision (University Press of Kentucky, 2006) with Matthew Dickerson. His long-term scholarly interests include Scandinavian loan-words in the Peterborough Chronicle -- a manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle -- and elements of medieval dragon-lore and the dragon-slayer legend in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.  His interest in medieval mystical motifs in 17th/18th-century German pietistic hymnody, particularly in Das Kleine Davidische Psalterspiel der kinder Zions: von alten und neuen auserlesenen Geistes-gesangen (1744), is currently still alive but on long-term hold.

In 1987 Dr. Evans held a Sarah H. Moss Fellowship at the Arnamagnaean Institute in the University of Copenhagen; he was a General Sandy Beaver Teaching Professor from 1997-2000. He was a lecturer in the Franklin College Outreach Program; he is a member of the UGA Department of Linguistics, the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program, and director of the UGA Medieval Studies Program. He was Graduate Coordinator in the UGA Department of Linguistics from 2009 to 2020.

Dr. Evans and his wife Susan reside in Athens. They are the parents of Owen and Anna, who also reside in Athens, and John David, who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Jonathan & Susan have no dogs and certainly no cats, though they enjoy dog-sitting their children's pets, named Finley, Fern, and Watson. They are quietly Presbyterian. Not the dogs, the people. The dogs exhibit loud and enthusiastic but indeterminate canine faith-commitments.

  • B.A. Asbury College (1976)
  • M.A. Indiana University (1978)
  • Ph.D. Indiana University (1984)
Research Interests:
  • Old English
  • Beowulf
  • Old Norse
  • J.R.R. Tolkien



See CV link below.

Selected Publications:

See CV link below.

Of note:

"Ofost is sēlest tō gecyðanne hwanan ēowre cyme syndon." – Beowulf, ll. 256b - 257

"Þæs sceal ōferēode; þisses swā mæg." -- "Dēor"

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