Picture of my two books


a picture of Karl Steel

I’m a medievalist who works on animals and posthumanism. I’m a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. My books are How to Make a Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages (Ohio State University Press, 2011), which the press has made freely available for download here; and the follow-up, How Not to Make a Human: Pets, Feral Children, Worms, Sky Burial, Oysters (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).

My current book project, The Irrational Animal, pushes at the limits and problems of the concept of “reason” in the Middle Ages. My chapters will be on: 1) Whether the rational soul thinks? 2) Plotinus and Boethius as the Problem of Free Will 3) Marguerite Porete and the Problem of Suprarational Freedom. Links are to drafts. I will also have a short chapter on animals and emotion, and probably finish with one on the problems with the concept of “dehumanization.” Aiming for a complete draft by end of 2024.

I have also published on medieval vegetarianism, the white supremacist fascination with Vikings, and Shakespeare’s animals, among other related topics. I’ve published most recently on wolf-hunting and the utility of knights in Piers Plowman for the Yearbook of Langland Studies. For a sample of my scholarship, see here. For a sense of my teaching, see the 63 videos (and counting) of short lectures I’ve made chiefly for my undergraduates.

My CV. I’m on Bluesky. Sometimes still on twitter. You can contact me via ksteel at brooklyn dot cuny dot edu