I currently have three research projects in progress.
1.In my first book, Past Convictions: The Penance of Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), I examined the various representations of an event customarily viewed as the first serious political crisis for the Carolingian realm: the ritual divestiture and penance of Charlemagne's son, Emperor Louis the Pious, in 833. Perhaps the most exciting result of this research was the revelation of a "dramatic consciousness" present in the Carolingian imaginary – that classical drama, despite its disappearance as a performed art, had a formative influence upon historiography and processes of interpretation in the ninth century.
Picking up where Past Convictions left off, my new book project, Phantoms of Performance: History, Drama, and the Carolingian Pursuit of Truth, explores the increase in allusions to drama under the Carolingians and develops what I suspect are its rather significant implications with respect to the writing of history. How did people in the Middle Ages understand hypocrisy? Was dramatic rhetoric employed only as a cliché with a negative connotation of duplicity (following its traditional use by the Church Fathers)? How did a hermeneutic informed by drama influence the emplotment and representation of events more generally? How does it do so today?
2.Another research project investigates the theft, concealment, and "repatriation" to France between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of what the French nation had come to believe to be its earliest and most precious literary monument – the allegedly unique manuscript of the lay Carolingian author Nithard's Historiae (or "Histories"), a text that contains the first extant witness of the French language. I contend that the history of this manuscript's movements reveals much about the intimate relationships of art, property, and other material objects to the delineation of cultural heritage and the formation of national identity. This project also seeks to remind scholars that the manuscripts they use have histories of their own that cannot be separated from the texts they contain.
3.A third project is an English translation of the Latin texts of Agobard of Lyons. As bishop of Lyons from 816 to 835, Agobard was an outspoken "southerner" who constantly sought to have a voice in Carolingian court politics to the north. To this end, he penned several letters, entreaties, and admonitions over the course of his career to Emperor Louis the Pious and his courtiers, urging them to take action against matters ranging from the "impious practice" of the judicial ordeal to the "malignant effects" of associating with Jews to the "unseemly and iniquitous" conduct being increasingly displayed by the emperor himself. In short, Agobard's extant texts, which vary in both content and intended audience, provide a nearly unparalleled lens through which to observe the political and religious, the social and economic, and the prosaic and arcane world of ninth-century Europe.
“Carolingian Harts and Minds: or, On Remembering to Forget to Remember," delivered at the First Millennium Network fall colloquium, University of Maryland, College Park, 9 November 2018
“Forgetting and Remembering Handexemplare: Authors’ Copies as Evidence in the Twenty-First Century,” delivered at the “Environing Cultural Heritage: Sustainability in the Arts and Humanities” International Research Collaboration Workshop, Freie Universität Berlin, 20 August 2018
"Louis the Pious's Theater of Illusions: Re-stagings from Fichtenau to Dutton, and Beyond," delivered as part of the panel "Carolingian Civilization 25 Years Later: In Honor of Paul Edward Dutton, I," at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK, 5 July 2018
“Sacred Kingdom, Penitential State: A Short History of L’Augustinisme politique,” delivered at "The Sacral and the Secular: Early Medieval Political Theology" conference, Cambridge University, UK, 28 June 2018
“Machiavellitico praecepto: Learning from the Carolingians in Sixteenth-Century France,” delivered at the 44th annual New England Medieval Conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 7 October 2017
“Remembering, Forgetting, and Stealing the First French Text,” delivered to the Société des études médiévales du Québec, Université du Québec à Montréal, 5 October 2017
“False Hope and Real Fear in Nithard’s Libri historiarum,” delivered as part of the panel “Twelve Angry Carolingians III: Being Angry,” at the 52nd annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 13 May 2017
“Sacred Kingdom, Penitential State: A Short History of L’Augustinisme politique,” delivered as part of the panel “Imagining Carolingian Empire(s),” at the 2017 annual Marco Symposium “Carolingian Experiments,” University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 24 March 2017
“By the Body Betrayed: Blushing in the Penitential State,” delivered as part of the panel “Flesh and Materiality,” at “The Material World of the Early Middle Ages” conference, Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon, 8 October 2016
“Remembering, Forgetting, and Stealing the First French Text,” delivered as part of the “After Hours” discussion series, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 29 February 2016
“Hypocrisy, Performativity, and the Carolingian Pursuit of Truth: Tracing the Lineaments of a Lost Book,” delivered as part of the Princeton Medieval Studies lecture series “The Life of I: Biography and Autobiography in the Middle Ages,” Princeton University, 17 November 2015
“An Alleged Oratio of Boniface to Pippin in 751,” delivered as part of the panel “Texts and Identities, III: New Uses for Old Stories – Dealing with the Past in the Middle Ages,” at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 6 July 2015
“Iusta murmuratio: The Sound of Scandal in the Early Middle Ages,” delivered as part of the SFB VISCOM and FSP Gemeinschaftskonzepte series, “Identitäten und politischen Integration,” Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, 7 May 2015
A Carolingian Reformer and Controversialist: The Complete Agobard of Lyons – a translation of the works of the ninth-century Carolingian bishop Agobard of Lyons for the Univ. of Toronto Press series Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures.
"Forgetting, Remembering, and Stealing the First French Text," article manuscript.
"An Alleged Oratio of Boniface to Pepin in 751," article manuscript.
"Sacred Kingdom, Penitential State: A Short History of L’Augustinisme politique," article manuscript.
Close study of the problems and themes of medieval European History. Topics include orality and literacy; forgery and authenticity; Christian and pagan knowledge; dispute resolution, law, and the feud; and fundamental pre-modern attitudes about time, space, and the body. In particular, HIST 202 serves to familiarize students with medieval culture, its peculiar forms of evidence, and its modern interpretations, allowing them a smoother transition to upper-division courses on medieval history. More generally, the course introduces students to the methods of historical practice, including primary-source analysis, historical writing, and library and research skills. HIST 202 will introduce students to the methods of historical practice, including primary-source analysis, historical writing, library and research skills, and public history.
This course is a topical survey of the formative period of western medieval European history, roughly from the third through the ninth centuries. It traces the processes by which Roman, Germanic, and Christian political and intellectual traditions coalesced into a new civilization. Emphasis is placed on the reading, analysis, and discussion of primary sources from a wide variety of genres by a diverse number of authors. History majors, as well as students interested in a historical introduction to medieval European civilization, are welcome.
If you tell the truth, you dont have to remember anything.
apocryphal; attributed to Mark Twain
This course, which is mandatory for all fourth-year Honours students, has two primary objectives. The first is to introduce students to some fundamental issues of historical representation, specifically the history of memoryan area of history that examines how people remember, forget, and restructure the past as an ongoing part of the construction of themselves and their worlds. Because I am a medieval historian, some of the secondary readings will come from scholars working on pre-modern Europe. However, the issues they raise are not limited to any particular time period. The second goal of the course is to help students to conceptualize and write their Honours graduating essays.
We will read a range of texts selected both for their thematic content and for their utility as models of historical writing. In the first semester, we will explore the nuts and bolts of how writers ask historical questions, find and use sources, make their arguments, and situate their work in relation to relevant historiographies. The second semester will focus closely on students own theses in progress. The core of these class meetings will be critical (but supportive and constructive) engagement with one anothers writing. Course evaluations will be based on participation in discussion and various writing assignments.
Georg Heinzle (2019; co-supervised with Prof. Karl Ubl, University of Cologne), "Flammen der Zwietracht: Deutungen des karolingischen Brüderkrieges im 9. Jahrhundert"
Josh Timmermann (in progress), "Temporality, Authority, and 'Ancient Christianity' in the Carolingian Era"
Peter Jones (in progress), "The Entirety of Our Times: Merovingian Historiography and Historical Consciousness"
Jacob Goldowitz (in progress)
Josh Timmermann (2015), "Beati patres: Uses of Augustine and Gregory the Great at Carolingian Church Councils, 816–836"(Awarded prize for best thesis of cohort)
• Download unpublished thesis
David Patterson (2013), "Adversus paganos: Disaster, Dragons, and Episcopal Authority in Gregory of Tours"(Awarded prize for best thesis of cohort)
• Download published version in Comitatus 44 (2013): 1–28• Download more detailed unpublished thesis
Johanna Goosen (2008), "The Chalice and the Cup: The Changing Role of Wine in the High Middle Ages"
• Download unpublished thesis
Josh Timmermann (2013), "Sharers in the Contemplative Virtue: Julianus Pomerius’s Carolingian Audience" (Winner of the J.H. Stewart Reid Medal and Prize in Honors History for best thesis of cohort)
• Download published version in Comitatus 45 (2014): 1–44 • Download more detailed unpublished thesis
Catherine Bright (2009), "Ex quibus unus fuit Odorannus: Community and Self in an Eleventh-Century Monastery (Saint Pierre-le-Vif, Sens)"(Winner of the Leslie F.S. Upton Memorial Prize for best thesis in History/Medieval Studies)
• Download published version in Comitatus 41 (2010): 77–118
Mohamad Ballan (2008), "Fraxinetum: A Glimpse into the Mediterranean World of the Tenth Century?"
• Download published version in Comitatus 41 (2010): 23–76
Chelsea Gardner (2008), "Papal Smear: Remarks on the Conspiracy, Narrative, and Emplotment of a Historical Fiction"
Meg Leja (2007), "The Making of Men, not Masters: Right Order and Lay Masculinity According to Dhuoda and Nithard"(Winner of the J.H. Stewart Reid Medal and Prize in Honors History for best thesis of cohort)
• Download published version in Comitatus 39 (2008): 1–40
Kelsey Mack (2007), "Indirectly Critical: The Treatment of Louis the Pious by Einhard and Paschasius Radbertus"
Peter Jones (2011), "Temporum series praestitit: Order and Truth in the Texts of Gregory of Tours"
• Download published version in Comitatus 46 (2015): 1–30
Ph.D. UCLA, 2002