Forbes, Jonathan

Graduate Student


Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara

Jonathan Forbes received his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a Doctoral Scholar's Fellow, and holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphasis in Medieval Studies.



His dissertation, entitled, "Feeling Bureaucratic: Political Poetry, Affective Rhetoric, and Parliamentary Process in Late Medieval England," explores the formation of the English parliament in the fourteenth century and tracks its conceptual development via an archive of texts produced within a culture of Westminster-based, Oxford-influenced government bureaucrats. These bureaucrats worked alongside the parliament, and through their writings, intervened in the very political processes that they helped to administrate. “Parliamentary” texts include not only allegorical portrayals but also debate poems, dream visions, bureaucratic “how-to” manuals, and archival documents, which often conceptualize the institution as engaging in practices of collective care by valuing ongoing political process. Such a conceptualization was valuable within a historical context of widespread cultural trauma in the fourteenth century and offered the institutionalization of collective care practices in parliament as a response to trauma. By way of psychoanalysis, assemblage theory, and trauma theory, this study offers a new historiography of parliament, one that turns away from longue durée arguments about barons restraining royal power to a more synchronic approach targeting the discursive and affective origins of parliamentary practice and thinking in fourteenth-century England.

Research and Teaching

Forbes' research and teaching interests include Middle English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, Early Modern literature, William Shakespeare, theories of literature and the mind (i.e., psychoanalysis, trauma theory, attachment theory, assemblage theory), literature and the law, rhetoric, Writing Studies, public speaking, contemporary American politics, medievalism. Forbes has taught as the instructor of record in both the English Department and the Writing Program at UC Santa Barbara. 

Professional Service

Forbes is currently working as the grant writer for the Division of Student Affairs at UC Santa Barbara. 



SAASB 2109

Office Hours: 

Please email.


(805) 893-5826


Mailing Address: 

Grants and Development
Division of Student Affairs
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5015


Medieval Literature
Literature and the Mind
Literary Theory


Projects (Initiatives, Grants, etc.): 


Selected Lectures: 

  • "'Withoute Pitee ther may no bille availe': Affective Rhetoric and Petitionary Form in Chaucer's Complaint unto Pity," Biennial London Chaucer Conference: Chaucer and the Law, Institute of English Studies, University of London, London, UK, June 30, 2017.
  • "Fragments of Debate: Group Experience in the Headlinks of the Canterbury Tales," New Chaucer Society, London, UK, July 14, 2016.
  • Invited roundtable participant, "Kathleen Biddick's Untimely Sovereignties," Modern Language Association, Austin, TX, January 10, 2016
  • "A How-to Guide to an Imagined World: A Politics of Becoming in the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum," 4th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 11, 2015
  • "Enclosed in Dirt and Sand: The Anchoress in Thatcher's England," 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, October 17, 2014.
  • "Traumatic Representation: Parliament and Ethics in the Testament of Cresseid," 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May 9, 2013.
  • "Traumatic Medievalism in Shakespeare's Richard III," Medieval Association of the Pacific, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, March 23, 2013.
  • "Being on Behalf: Parliament in Piers Plowman," Medieval Studies Program Annual Graduate Student Conference, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, May 7, 2011.
  • "Representing Parliament: Transfer and Sovereignty in The Parliament of Fowls," Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, March 13, 2011.

Recent Courses Taught