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 in particular on the Middle Ages, especially its freakier aspects (and that’s saying a lot!). Heresy (both real and imagined), persecution of alleged witches, saints, mystics, and just about anything to do with women and Ireland are among my primary interests. My book, The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish: Vengeance and Heresy in Medieval Ireland, will be published this fall by Cornell University Press. It explores Ireland’s handful of heresy trials, their role in the colonization of the island by the English, and their relationship to heresy and witchcraft prosecution in Britain and on the Continent. In my next project, I return to the saints, including 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?!
Prior to coming to Simpson, I taught for several years at Northwestern University, developing courses such as “The Margins and the Mainstream in Christian History,” “One Nation, Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and American Democracy,” and “Celtic Christianity.” I also taught courses on world religions, Christian mystical theology, and the feminine and the divine in Christianity, among others. I have published repeatedly on the female saints of Ireland and have given papers in Ireland and the United States on topics including medieval women mystics, childbirth and abortion miracles, and ethnic tensions and allegations of heresy. 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.