Assistant Professor of Religion
- Phone Number:
- Office Location:
- Mary Berry Hall 118
- Office Hours:
- Monday 1-3
- B.A., Religion, Pomona College, 1992
M.Phil., Women’s Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 1994
Ph.D., Religion (Medieval Christianity), Northwestern University, 2002
In our department, I am the historian to Dr. Everhart’s Bible and Dr. Gammon’s theology. I focus on the Middle Ages, especially its more bizarre aspects (and that’s saying a lot!). Heresy (both real and imagined), persecution of alleged witches, sainthood, mysticism, and just about anything to do with women and Ireland are among my primary interests. I am currently working on an article about St Íte, whose fasting was so extreme it prompted force-feeding by angels and who had a flesh-eating stag-beetle as foster-child, at least until her nuns killed it in horror. God rewarded her love, compassion, and suffering by offering himself in the form of the Christ-child as replacement; the poem which revels in their rapturous relationship, though unlikely to be by the saint herself, may be one of very few extant female-authored works from medieval Ireland. With material like this, how can anyone not be a medievalist?!
I primarily teach courses on world religions, the history of Christianity, and gender and religion. Prior to coming to Simpson, I taught for several years at Northwestern University. I have published repeatedly on medieval Irish religious history and have given papers in Europe and the United States on topics including medieval women mystics, childbirth and abortion miracles, and ethnic tensions and allegations of heresy. My current book project, The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish: Heresy Trials in Medieval Ireland, explores Ireland’s handful of certifiable medieval heresy trials, focusing on the relations between the English, the Irish, and the Anglo-Irish and the role of the Church in these relations; tensions within the ecclesiastical hierarchy and between secular and spiritual authority; Ireland’s position within its European context; the doctrinal as well as the political, cultural, ethnic, and gender aspects of the alleged heresies, and the impact of heresy and witchcraft accusations on a land that previously had little experience of them. In addition to my longtime interests in medieval Christianity and women’s religious history, I increasingly am focused on contemporary religious issues, especially interfaith dialogue and the intersection of religion and public policy. I am particularly impressed by Simpson students’ commitment to social justice and global awareness and strive to encourage such commitments.