Thomas Leek

Office: ​CCC 404




A native of California’s Central Valley, Thomas Leek attended classes at CSU Chico before completing his BA in German Literature and Classical Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He completed his undergraduate studies while taking part in the Academic Year in Freiburg program through the UW Madison Study Abroad Office. An extra year of study in Freiburg gave Professor Leek the opportunity to prepare for a graduate career at the University of Minnesota in the Germanic Medieval Studies program offered through the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch. In June of 2009, he defended his dissertation on a set of 13th-century folktales attested in German, French and Latin sources. He has been with the UWSP Department of Foreign Languages since the fall of 2009.

Professor Leek’s research interests include medieval literature, folklore and historical linguistics. He teaches courses in German language, literature and culture. He is currently writing about the Middle High German romance Mai und Beaflor and the Middle High German Chronicle of Emperors.


University of Minnesota, PhD., Medieval Germanic Studies, 2009.

University of Wisconsin, BA., German Literature and Classical Humanities, 2001.


“The 13th-Century ‘Constance’ Tales.”

Abstract: Four texts from the 13th century make up the first attestations of the “Constance” plot, a version of ATU 706 “The Father who Wanted to Marry his Daughter.” This dissertation harmonizes a comparative investigation of these tales with an analysis of the cultural milieu of the Middle Ages. The figure of the sexually persecuted and exiled daughter comes to the forefront of popular culture as discourse on repentance centers around the correction of monstrous sins. In the “Constance” tales, the daughter reconciles her repentant father and husband, between whom power is transferred on account of the heroine’s suffering. A thematically similar anecdote in the Chronicle of Morea points toward an international motif of an errant daughter benefiting the man she marries against her father’s initial wishes.

Dissertation Advisor: Anatoly Liberman

Recent and Forthcoming Publications

"On the Question of Orality behind Medieval Romance: The Example of the 'Constance' Group." Folklore. 2012.

"Jans Enikel and the Orthodox East." Amsterdamer Beitraege zur aelteren Germanistik 68 (2011): 217-232.

“Demons, Demoniacs and Goth. skohsl.” Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis 13.2 (2008): 279-292.

“Holda: Between Folklore and Linguistics.” Indogermanische Forschungen 113 (2008): 312-338.

Recent and Upcoming Conference Presentations

"Why Don't We Take this Outside? Creating Networks of Learners." Wisconsin Association for Foreign Language Teachers. Appleton, WI, November 4, 2011. Presented with student Ryan Nelson.

"Persecuted Heroines in the Kinder- und Hausmaerchen." Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. Albuquerque, NM, October 14, 2010.

"Immobile Suffering: The Significance of Pain and Injury in Medieval Incest Tales." German Studies Association Conference. Oakland, CA, October 8, 2010.

"The Incest Motif and the Court." 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamzoo, MI, May 14th, 2010.

“A Change of Focus: Male Heroes in the Background.” Southwest/Texas Popular & American Culture Conference. Albuquerque, NM, February 26, 2009.

“Demons, Demoniacs and Goth. skohsl.” Germanic Linguistics Roundtable. University of California, Berkeley, April 5, 2008.

“The Other East: Rus in the World Chronicle of Jans Enikel.” GSA Conference. St. Paul, MN, October 3, 2008.