Cynthea Masson

  • B.A. (Guelph)
  • M.A. (McMaster)
  • Ph.D. (McMaster)

Middle English literature and language; medieval visionary, mystical, and alchemical literature and rhetoric; Whedon Studies; composition.


Prior to my forays into the academic world surrounding Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my research areas included Chaucer, medieval mysticism, and medieval alchemical literature. Thanks to a SSRHC postdoctoral fellowship, I spent several months in the British Library’s medieval manuscript room studying alchemical manuscripts. My alchemy-focused articles include “Text as Stone: Desire, Sex, and the Figurative Hermaphrodite in the Ordinal and Compound of Alchemy” (published in Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain, D. S. Brewer 2014). My alchemy-inspired fiction includes The Alchemists’ Council and The Flaw in the Stone (ECW Press 2016 and 2018), the first two books in a fantasy trilogy. (Book One of the series won the 2017 IPPY Gold Medal in Fantasy. Book Three is scheduled for publication in 2020.) Since 2004, I have published and presented on various television series created by Joss Whedon, including Buffy, AngelFirefly, and Dollhouse. My paper “‘Break Out the Champagne, Pinocchio’: Angel and the Puppet Paradox” won the 2013 Whatley Award for best paper in Studies in Popular Culture. With Rhonda Wilcox, Tanya R. Cochran, and David Lavery, I had the pleasure of co-editing the book Reading Joss Whedon (Syracuse University Press 2014). A conjunction of creativity and academic rigour informs both my writing and teaching. From first-year composition courses to upper-level medieval literature courses, I aim to bring into the classroom Chaucer’s philosophy of “best sentence and moost solaas”—that is, both meaning and pleasure (General Prologue 798).

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