Dr Curtis Runstedler is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of English Literature and Cultures at the University of Stuttgart. His current research examines literary depictions of robots and AI in contemporary literature. He was awarded his Ph.D. in English Literature at Durham University in 2018, specialising on alchemy and exemplary narratives in Middle English poetry. The resulting book Alchemy and Exemplary Poetry in Middle English Literature was published with Palgrave Macmillan's The New Middle Ages series. He has also written on queenship and alchemy in Game of Thrones, sympathetic werewolves in the medieval romance, Anglo-Saxon saint cults, cultural hybridity in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a Renaissance reading of a medieval version of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and more. His research interests include medieval and Renaissance literature, feminism, contemporary English literature, history of science, Canadian indigenous literature, World War II history, and the supernatural and the occult.

Curtis was previously a Teach@Tübingen research and teaching fellow at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. He is also a Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is TESOL/TEFL certified. In his spare time, he enjoys running, writing Western novels and horror short stories, fossil hunting, fishing, taking his red-eared slider Frankie for walks, and co-hosting the weekly film podcast The Seat Struck Movie Podcast, which can be heard on most streaming platforms.

"Alchemy and Exemplary Poetry in Middle English Literature is a daring book. Focusing on the moral uses of alchemy as it appears in narratives of late fourteenth- and fifteenth-century poets in England, Curtis Runstedler argues vigorously that late medieval writers grasped the transformational power of alchemy and alchemical practices to effect positive changes in the character and behavior of the fictive practitioners they created, and through them of real-life readers as well. This book uncovers surprising new ways to understand the work of Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, as well as several anonymous romances—a true turning of the familiar—but here-to-fore overlooked—into gold."

- R. F. Yeager, Professor Emeritus, University of West Florida

"Curtis Runstedler casts a fascinating light on attitudes to alchemy in the Middle Ages and its literary potential for moral instruction; he examines texts by well-known writers such as Chaucer and Gower, but also little-known dialogues featuring unexpected speakers such as Merlin and the Queen of Elves. Runstedler succeeds in making this arcane subject accessible. His book will be useful not only to medievalists, but also as a prequel to the increasing interest in alchemy in Early Modern English literature."

- Elizabeth Archibald, Professor Emerita, Durham University

"Good scholarly books are often characterised by mixing different ingredients in new ways. This one pioneers the blending of three - the history of alchemy, medieval English poetry, and medieval exemplary literature - and the result is a set of valuable new insights."

- Ronald Hutton, Professor, University of Bristol

"John Gower’s interest in alchemy has often puzzled modern readers, not only because the subject itself seems strange, but also because the description of alchemy in Book IV of the Confessio Amantis is not in Gower’s usual form, and so seems not to function in the way his more narrative exempla do. But in the Gower chapter of this careful study of alchemy in Middle English texts, Curtis Runstedler convincingly shows that the alchemical 'digression' offers a new model for both exemplary literature and for virtuous labour. Gower’s description of alchemy, in addition to revealing the poet's deep familiarity with the contemporary alchemical tradition, shows how the practice itself can be exemplary, thanks to the intellectual and physical labour at its core. And while for Gower, the modern alchemist, having lost contact with the knowledge once embedded at the heart of this science, can never succeed, nevertheless the pursuit of alchemical knowledge offers a praiseworthy antidote to sloth, and a call for continuing attention to linguistic interpretation and communication - central issues for a prolific, trilingual, widely-read poet such as Gower. I will confess to having skipped quickly through this section in past encounters with the Confessio, but this astute reading has changed my mind. If he hasn’t managed to transmute my ignorance into knowledge, Runstedler has at least set me on the path to new learning, and I am very happy to find myself there."

- Siân Echard, Professor, University of British Columbia