Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History
Location Arts Two 3.08
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8369
I am a historian of Europe of wide interests. My research has ranged across the period 1100-1600, through the exploration of themes in the religious culture of Europe. I am interested in inter-disciplinary encounters, and these have animated my work. I also enjoy disseminating history to diverse audiences all over the world.
My research has introduced new approaches to the study of social relations in the predominantly religious cultures of medieval Europe.
I have sought to understand the message of Christian charity as practised in medieval communities; to explore the meanings of the arch-sacrament, the Eucharist; to explore new narratives about Jews, which turned into public social dramas.
I enjoyed greatly the research for a book on the making of the figure of the Virgin Mary over 1500 years, as I did the preparation of the editorial project which followed: the translation and annotation of the Life and Passion of William of Norwich. This is a twelfth century Latin hagiographical text which contains the first know accusation of child murder brought against the Jews of Norwich.
In all my work I seek to understand issues of identity, community, and gender, the boundaries of cooperation and the threat of violence.
- History of religious cultures
- Social and community relations
- Jewish-Christian relations
- Gender, identity and the body: ideas as well as practices
- Visual and material expressions of ideas and practices
Current PhD Students
- Julia Bourke – Cultivating Emotion: Cistercian Communities in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Britain
- Hannah Cole – Female travel in the late medieval Mediterranean
- Magdalena Janosikova – Composing Hebrew Materia Medica in Early Modern Times: A Medical Treatise of Eliezer Eilburg
- Ella Kilgallon – Creating sacred space beyond the convent: Women of the Franciscan Third Order in the Italian city
- Amanda Langley
- Lauren Mulholland – Jerusalem in the Medieval Imagination, 1100 – 1300
- Cecil Reid – A Society in Transition: Jews in the Kingdom of Castile from Settlement to Expulsion (1248-1492)
I welcome applications from candidates interested in research a wide range of topics. Some of my PhD students have researched:
- Carnival plays in 15th and 16th Century Europe
- The Templars in Occitania
- Political martyrdom in late medieval England
- Miracles of the Virgin and attitudes to Jews in Anglo-Norman England
- Uses of the Bible in late Medieval England
- Vernacular Pastoralia in 13th and 14th-century England
- Debates over the Immaculate Conception
- Perceptions of Time in Late Medieval Burgundy
- Diversity in Late Medieval Ashkenazi Intellectual Discussion
- Charity and Community in Medieval Cambridge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
- Corpus Christi: the Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991.
- Gentile Tales; the Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews,, London: Yale University Press, 1999; repr. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
- Mother of God. A History of the Virgin Mary, London: Alan Lane, 2009.
- Emotion and Devotion. The Meaning of Mary in Medieval Religious Cultures, The Natalie Zemon Davis Annual Lectures 2, Budapest: Central European University Press, 2009.
- Very Short Introduction to the Middle Ages, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014; translation into Korean in 2015.
- Thomas of Monmouth, The Life and Passion of William of Norwich, trans. with an introduction Miri Rubin London: Penguin, 2014.
President, London Medieval Society, 2007-2012
Leverhulme Major Research Award, 2002-2005
Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, 2007-
Councillor of the Medieval Academy of America, 2013-
- Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute, University of Southampton, 2010-
Membership of professional associations or societies
- Medieval Pluralities: the Cultures of Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Brill, Leiden, 1994-2002
- Medieval Religious Women, Brepols Publishers, 2010-
- Medieval Cultures, published by Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis, 1994-2004
- New Medieval Literatures, Oxford University Press, 1997-
- Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages, University of Wales Press, 2005-
Appearances in the media
- Chaucer and his World, BBC Radio 3, 21 October 2000
- Nightwaves, BBC Radio 3, 18 December 2001
- You and yours, BBC Radio 4, 2 January 2002
- In our time, BBC Radio 4, 17 January 2002
- Mapping the Town - Cambridge, BBC Radio 4, 26 February
- Villains and heroes: Lady Macbeth and Joan of Arc, BBC Radio 4, 1 February 2003 Luther, PBS and Discovery Channel, 24-25 February 2003
- Start the Week, BBC Radio 4, 20 October 2003
- The Blood Libel, BBC Radio 4, 26 January 2004
- Women and cruelty, Nightwaves, BBC Radio 3, 13 May 2004
- The Lewis Chessmen, BBC Radio 4,
- Start the Week, BBC Radio 4, 17 January 2005
- Presenter, Europe of the Mind II, 20 February 2005
- The Long View – Retirement, main historical consultant, 7 March 2006
- The Hollow Crown, BBC Swindon and Wiltshire 13 March 2006
- Cults of Saints and their Relics, The World at Ten and BBC World Service, June 2006
- The Middle Ages – Then and Now, Session at the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, 1 June 2006
- In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, 16 November 2006
- ‘The Black Death’, In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, 22 May 2008
- Start the Week, BBC Radio 4, 22 February 2009
- Nightwaves, BBC Radio 3, 23 February 2009
- Tapestry, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 10 May 2009
- Rogier van de Weyden’s Descent from the Cross, TV BBC4, March 2010
- Trailer for the film Robin Hood (2010), History Channel, March 2010
- A History of the World in 100 Objects, BBC Radio 4, May 2010
- Thoroughly Modern Mary, BBC Radio 4, June 2010
- Cold Case, BBC2, July 2011
- Guilty Pleasures: Luxury in the Middle Ages, 4 July 2011
- Au nom de Marie, Arte TV channel Documentary, 4 November 2011
- The History of Writing, BBC Radio 4, January 2012
- Interview for Diarmaid Macculloch's God Made the English, BBC2, 24 March 2012
- Feedback, BBC Radio 4, 30 March 2012
- The Great British Bake Off, contributor, 14 July 2012
- Presenter of BBC Radio 4 Poetry programme on Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, August 2012
- In Our Time, ‘Chivalry’, BBC Radio 4, 13 February 2014
- Jewish Hour, BBC Manchester, 6 April 2014, 2pm
- In Our Time, Radio 4, ‘Hildegard of Bingen’, 26 June, 2014
- On Ritual Murder, Sunday Jewish Radio, 2 November 2014
- In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, ‘Breugel’s fight between Carnival and Lent’, 15 January 2015
- Beyond Belief, on Purgatory, BBC Radio 4, 3 February 2015