John Bugbee

Doctoral Candidate


  • Ph.D., Religious Studies, U.Va. (projected 2016)
  • Ph.D., English, U.Va. (2008)
  • M.A., English, U.Va. (2003)
  • M.A., Religious Studies, U.Va. (2003)
  • B.A., Religion and Mathematics, Williams College (1993)


A look at the concept of substance under the lens of Peircean pragmatism, particularly as it developed (or withered) from the late-medieval realism of Duns Scotus to the background assumptions of the early "scientific revolution" (Descartes, F. Bacon).  One hoped-for payoff is some illumination of how we on the far side of that watershed might best understand the concept, given that it still appears centrally in the standard definitions of vital Christian teachings (Trinity, Incarnation, eucharist).

Research Interests

  • Christian philosophy and theology, particularly of the Latin Middle Ages
  • Monastic theology, esp. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Religion and literature, esp. medieval (Chaucer, Dante, Pearl-poet)
  • The work of Charles Peirce, esp. as applied to questions that bear on theology and philosophy of science (nature of physical law, nature of substance, problems of continuity)


Besides teaching at U.Va., I have worked for two years as a postdoc in the Thomas Jefferson Center for Core Texts and Ideas at the University of Texas-Austin and three years as a member of the English department of Mount St. Mary's University, Emmitsburg, MD.

Courses Taught as Instructor of Record

  • Medieval Philosophy and Literature (co-taught with Robert Koons)
  • Science, Language and God (co-taught with Peter Ochs)
  • World Scripture
  • God and the Poets in Medieval England
  • The Scientific Revolution via Its Great Texts
  • Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
  • Dante: The Divine Comedy (in translation)
  • Medieval Women (literature with historical backgrounds)
  • Shakespeare's Women
  • History of the English Language (with introductory linguistics)
  • The Western Media and the Middle East
  • Western Civ. Survey (literature and history): Origins to Petrarch
  • Western Civ. Survey (literature and history): Petrarch to Dickens
  • Western Civ. Survey (literature and history): 19th and 20th Centuries
  • Freshman Composition
  • Introduction to Literary Study (“sophomore lit”)
  • [And, previously, many courses in mathematics, physics, and philosophy at the community college and high-school levels.]

Courses Taught as Teaching Assistant

  • Religion and Modern Fiction
  • Theology, Ethics and Medicine
  • Literary Survey: Medieval and Renaissance

Refereed Publications

  • God’s Patients: Chaucer, Bernard, and the Theology of Agency. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016 (forthcoming).
  • “Dante’s Staircase and the History of the Will.” Speculum (forthcoming, July 2015?).
  • “Solving Dorigen’s Trilemma: Oath and Law in the Franklin’s and Physician’s Tales.” Medievalia et Humanistica 36 (2010).
  • “Sight and Sound in St. Erkenwald: On Theodicy and the Senses.” Medium Ævum 77 (2008).
    • Awarded the Medieval Academy of America’s Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize for an outstanding first essay, 2010.
  • “The Consequences of Metaphysics: Or, Can Charles Peirce’s Continuity Theory Model Stuart Kauffman’s Biology?” Zygon: The Journal of Religion and Science 42 (2007).
  • “Almost Alternating Links.” Topology and its Applications 46 (1992).
    • Joint authorship as part of a research group.


  • Several presentations at the national AAR conference, most frequently to the Science, Technology and Religion Group and the Pragmatism and Empiricism in American Religious Thought Group (but also to the Mysticism Group and the Nineteenth-Century Theology Group).
  • Also frequent presentations on topics philosophical, theological and literary at the International Congress on Medieval Studies held each May in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Individual presentations of various kinds at the Medieval Academy of America, Texas Medieval Association, Davidson College, the University of Texas at Austin, and others.

Grants, Awards & Invitations-to-Participate

  • Spr. 2015: Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge
  • 2013-14: Tibor Wlassics Dante Research Fellowship, U.Va.
  • 2013: Jerusalem Seminar, “Dante and Theology,” U. Notre Dame
  • 2012-13: Faculty seminar in Catholic thought, Mount St. Mary’s U.   
  • 2011: Faculty Development Award, Mount St. Mary’s U.
  • 2008–10: Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship, U. Texas-Austin   
  • 2004-07: Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Doctoral Fellowship   
  • 2001: Finalist, MacDonald Service Award, U.Va. United Ministries    
  • 1998-2002: Jacob K. Javits Fellowship