Christopher Cannon works on medieval literature and, in particular, the emergence of 'English literature' as a meaningful category. He has traced that emergence conceptually (in the intellectual contexts in which it developed), philologically (in the history of English) and, comparatively (as Latin learning produced a 'grammatical' English and its poetics).
He is the author of From Literacy to Literature (Oxford University Press, 2016), Middle English Literature: A Cultural History (2008), The Grounds of English Literature (2004), and The Making of Chaucer's English: A Study of Words (1998).
He is general co-editor of Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture (a monograph series) and of the Oxford Chaucer (an edition in progress of all of Chaucer's writing). He has held a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has received the William Riley Parker Prize from the MLA (2014). He came to Johns Hopkins in 2017 after teaching at NYU, Cambridge, Oxford and UCLA.
- From Literacy to Literature: England, 1300-1400 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
- Middle English Literature: A Cultural History (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008).
- The Grounds of English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; paperback edition, 2007) .
- The Making of Chaucer's English: A Study of Words (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998; reprinted 2001; paperback edition 2005).
- 'Malory's Comedy', in Romance Rewritten: Essays in Honor of Helen Cooper, ed. Elizabeth Archibald, Megan Leitch, and Corinne Saunders (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, fortcoming 2018).
- 'The Ploughman's Tale', The Yearbook of Langland Studies 31 (forthcoming, 2017).
- ‘Teaching and Learning’, in Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches Series: High Medieval: Literary Cultures in England , ed. Jocelyn Wogan-Browne and Elizabeth Tyler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017).
- 'Wyth her owen handys': What Women's Literacy Can Teach Us about Langland and Chaucer', Essays in Criticism 66 (2016): 277-300.
- 'Reading Knowledge', PMLA 130 (2015): 711-17.
- 'Vernacular Latin', Speculum 90 (2015): 641-53.
- 'From Literacy to Literature: Elementary Learning and the Middle English Poet', PMLA 129 (2014): 349-64.
- 'The Art of Rereading' ELH 80 (2013): 401-25.
- 'Class Distinction and the French of England' in A Modern Medievalist: Traditions and Innovations in the Study of Medieval Literature, ed. Charlotte Brewer and Barry Windeatt (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2012), 48-59.
- 'Chaucer and the Auchinleck Manuscript Revisited', The Chaucer Review 46 (2011): 131-46.
- 'The Language Group of the Canterbury Tales' in Medieval Latin and Middle English Literature: Essays in Honour of Jill Mann, ed. Christopher Cannon and Maura Nolan (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2011), 25-40.
- 'Proverbs and the Wisdom of Literature: The Proverbs of Alfred and Chaucer's Tale of Melibee', Textual Practice 23 (2010): 407-34.