Donna Bussell

Donna BussellAnchor link to John Martin videoProfessor Bussell on studying the Middle Ages


Meet Donna Bussell
Assistant Professor,



  • B.S. California State University Bakersfield
  • M.A. California State University
  • M.A. San Francisco State University
  • Ph.D, Columbia University


  • I am from Manhattan. Which means I talk fast. I walk fast. And I am still searching for the perfect bagel here in the Midwest.

Interesting facts:

  • Learning is fun! But it takes a strong commitment to doing the work. I am now on my third career—so I know what it’s like to work and go to school. I was a registered nurse, and a bilingual speech-language pathologist before becoming an English professor.

Learning philosophy:

  • Learning is fun! But it takes a strong commitment to doing the work. Creativity develops hand-in-hand with analytical thinking.

Research interests:

  • Women, politics, and religion in the Middle Ages, especially in England and France. Multilingualism and literacy in the Middle Ages.

Major project underway:

  • I am completing essays on a literary culture at Barking Abbey, a medieval Benedictine women’s community that lasted nearly 800 years. I am also beginning a project on Mary Magdalene.

Listen to Professor Bussell on studying the Middle Ages:

Advice to prospective students:

  • Get ready to challenge yourself, and to be challenged by others. College is a special place. You will have opportunities unlike anything you’ve experienced before, but only if you embrace the possibilities. You can read, write, and think deeply about all sorts of issues. Open yourself to what is available here, especially the feedback you’ll get about your work from teachers and fellow students who have no goal other than helping you to do better.

Best thing about UIS:

  • Getting to know the students. Teaching small classes means that I can have conversations with my students where there is plenty of give-and-take. It also means we do things that would be impossible in a large lecture (like staging medieval battles) that help us understand what we’re reading in new ways.