Elza Tiner, PhD

Professor of Latin and English
Latin Program Coordinator

Elza Tiner


Carnegie 233


  • PhD in Medieval Studies – Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, 1987
  • MLS (Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies) – Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 1985
  • MA in Medieval Studies – Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, 1980
  • BA in English – Seton Hall University, 1979


I joined the faculty of Lynchburg College in 1989, where I teach medieval English literature and Latin, and serve as Program coordinator for the minor in Latin and advisor to the Latin Club. I also teach and advise in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies minor program.

I am drawn to the study of both Latin and Middle English literature through a fascination with theatre and dance, especially the ways in which narrative and lyric poetry can be performed for audiences through storytelling, recitation, and acting.

Professional/Research Interests

My research interests include both literary studies and teaching methods. Research in progress focuses on classical and medieval Latin texts as sources for both composition and critical theory in Middle English literature.

Currently, as a Visiting Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, Summers 2012-2014, I have been examining Latin sources for the legend of the Fall of the Angels as related to early English biblical drama. A larger ongoing project is identification of medieval universal chronicles as potential models for the sequencing of the York, Chester, N-Town, and Towneley plays.  One such chronicle, the thirteenth-century Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum Historiale, is also a source for lines on the fall of the angels in Thomas Chaundler’s play, Liber Apologeticus de Omni Statu Humanae Naturae (A Defence of Human Nature in Every State) (c. 1460), ed. Doris Enright-Clark Shoukri  (1974).

My paper, “Breaking the Rules Across Genres: The Fall of the Angels in Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum Historiale and Thomas Chaundler’s Liber Apologeticus,”  was presented at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, UK, July 9-12, 2012. In addition to the source, it also identifies potential performance venues for the play, based on the illustrations, text, and related architectural settings.

With respect to teaching strategies, at the American Classical League (ACL) Institute, Memphis, TN, June 29, 2013, I presented a paper on teaching Intermediate Latin with textual parallels, “Specula Litterarum: Teaching Classical Authors with Latin for the New Millennium 2.”  Two invited presentations on this method followed: 1) for the Bolchazy-Carducci webinar series, September 17, 2013, and 2) at the workshop, “Helping Students Make Connections Between Latin Texts,” with LeaAnn Osburn and Donald Sprague, Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Baylor University, Waco, TX, April 5, 2014.

In 2011, presentations at the American Classical League and Classical Association of Virginia demonstrated the versatility and practicality of Latin through student research on the history of the arts and sciences from Latin texts. Presentation slides “‘Quomodo Scimus?’ II, Teaching Reading, Writing, and Speaking in Latin Through Research on the History of Disciplines” show how students research classical texts related to their future professions as they learn the Latin language.

My book, Teaching with the Records of Early English Drama, for the series Studies in Early English Drama, ed. Alan Somerset, University of Toronto Press (2006) is a collection of essays by prominent scholars in Medieval and Renaissance Drama on classroom use of historical documents published by the Records of Early English Drama (REED), a project based at the University of Toronto, with the goal to compile, edit, and publish documents relating to drama and entertainment in England prior to 1642. This collection of articles offers ways of researching and interpreting these historical documents as relevant to undergraduate and graduate courses in theatre, literature, history, paleography and historical linguistics.

Publications, Presentations, and Research

  • “Specula Litterarum: Teaching Classical Authors with Latin for the New Millennium II,” Presentation at University of Memphis, Memphis. June 2013.
  • Mirrored Genres: The Fall of the Angels in Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum Historiale and Thomas Chaundler’s Liber Apologeticus,” Vincent of Beauvais Newsletter 37 (2012): 4-14.
  • Quomodo Scimus? II: Teaching Reading, Writing, and Speaking in Latin through Research on the History of Disciplines.” Classical Outlook 88.4 (Summer 2011): 118-121.
  • Review: Latin for the New Millennium I and II by Milena Minkova and Terence TunbergMundelein: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2009. Classical Outlook 88.3 (Spring 2011): 100-101.
  • “Quomodo scimus?” Reading, Writing, and Speaking from Primary Sources in Elementary Latin.” Classical Outlook 87.3 (2010): 100-103.
  • “Aristotle in Late Medieval England: Giles of Rome on Rhetoric and Acting” Research Opportunities in Medieval and Renaissance Drama 47 (2008): 82-106.
  • “Going to HEL: REED and Diachronic Linguistics.” Teaching with the Records of Early English Drama. Ed. Elza C. Tiner. Studies in Early English Drama 7. Ed. Alan Somerset. University of Toronto Press, 2006. 176-193. On teaching the History of the English Language (HEL) from REED documents that provide evidence of surviving Middle English dialect features.
  • “Professional Players in Stratford on Avon, 1587-1602.” Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars’ Stage. Ed. Paul Menzer, Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 2006. 86-92.
  • “English Law in the York Trial Plays,” on the legal procedure in the trials of Jesus leading up to the crucifixion in the York Plays, in The Dramatic Tradition of the Middle Ages, Ed. Clifford Davidson (New York: AMS Press, 2005). 140-149.

Other publications include articles about medieval poet John Lydgate as a songwriter and biographies of patrons of traveling companies for the following REED collections: Cambridge (ed. Alan Nelson);Cumberland/Westmorland/Gloucestershire (ed. Audrey Douglas and Peter Greenfield); Coventry. (ed. Reginald Ingram); Devon (ed. John Wasson); York (ed. Alexandra Johnston); and in progress, for Warwickshire/Staffordshire (ed. Alan Somerset). I have also published papers on applications of classical and medieval rhetoric to modern composition.

Visiting Appointments and Honors

  • 2013-2014:  Shirley E. Rosser Award for Excellence in Teaching, Lynchburg College
  • 2012-2013: James A. Huston Award for Excellence in Scholarship,  Lynchburg College
  • Summers 2012, 2013: Visiting Scholar, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto
  • Summer 2012: Selected Participant, “Rhetoric in the 21st Century” Symposium, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Oxford
  • Fall 2011: Annual Faculty Award, School of Humanities & Social Sciences, for Development of Latin Program at Lynchburg College
  • 2005-2008: John Mills Turner Distinguished Chair in the Humanities
  • 2005: T.A. Abbott Award for Faculty Excellence, Lynchburg College
  • 2003: Faculty Scholar Leave award for research
  • 1996: Visiting Fellow, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto
  • Summer 1995: Senior Fellow, Centre for Research in Early Theatre, Victoria University, Toronto
  • Spring 1993: Visiting Preceptor, Expository Writing, Harvard University, for lectures on classical and medieval rhetoric in Richard Marius’ expository writing course

Courses: 2014-2015

  • LATN 101 Elementary Latin I
  • LATN 102 Elementary Latin II
  • LATN 201 Intermediate Latin I
  • LATN 202 Intermediate Latin II
  • LATN 203 Medieval Latin
  • LATN 208 Classical Latin Literature in English Translation

Professional Affiliations

  • American Classical League
  • American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages
  • American Philological Association
  • Classical Association of Virginia
  • Medieval Academy of America
  • Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society
  • Modern Language Association
  • Phi Kappa Phi (Academic Honor Society)
  • Phi Sigma Iota (International Foreign Language Honor Society)

Personal Information

Dr. Tiner's two dogs on a raft in the ocean near her former apartment in Hilo, HawaiiFor fun, I enjoy traveling; dancing; writing academic articles, essays, and poetry; listening to country music; taking long walks; and tracking down solutions to research problems in the library.

My astronomer husband, Dr. Harold Butner, provides unique opportunities for interesting vacations through his observing trips to international telescopes. Harold is now teaching astronomy and physics at James Madison University.

The photo at the right – symbolic of our lives – is a scene from the beach park near our former apartment in Hilo, Hawaii, home of several telescopes on Mauna Kea. I leave you to guess which dog is the one about to go off the raft.