Edwards, who specializes in medieval literature, as well as drama and literary criticism and theory, was named the Sparks Professor in 2007. Before that, he held the title of Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature since 1998.
Edwards joined the University in 1989 as a professor, having left his post as chair of the English department at SUNY, Buffalo. He was named a Fellow in Penn State's Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies in and served as it director from 1996 to 2001. Edwards also served as director of graduate studies in Penn State's Department of English for four years and was credited with making minority recruitment a top priority.
He earned both his master's degree and Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of numerous books, including: The Flight from Desire: Augustine and Ovid to Chaucer; Chaucer and Boccaccio: Antiquity and Modernity; The Dream of Chaucer; and Ratio and Invention: A Study in Medieval Lyric and Narrative.