Research in Medieval and Early Modern Christianity
Religious Studies graduate students in medieval and early modern Christian history work primarily with Ann Matter, drawing on the expertise of Religious Studies professors Annette Yoshiko Reed and Anthea Butler for earlier and later periods of Christian history. There is ample opportunity for comparative work between Christian and Jewish Studies with Talya Fishman (Religious Studies), David Ruderman (History), and David Stern (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) and between Christian and Islamic Studies with Jamal Elias (Religious Studies), Paul Cobb and Joseph Lowry (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), and Renata Holod (History of Art). Our students are encouraged to study with a wide range of faculty, and dissertation committees in this area often include faculty from other departments.
Courses relating directly to medieval and early modern Christianity are also offered by faculty in other departments — especially David Wallace and Emily Steiner in English; Rita Copeland in Comparative Literature, Classical Studies and English; Jessica Goldberg, Ann Moyer and Thomas Safley in History; Robert Maxwell, Larry Silver and Robert Ousterhout in History of Art; Kevin Brownlee in French and Italian; Michael Solomon in Spanish; Emma Dillon in Music; and Julia Verkolantsev in Slavic Languages and Literatures. All of these faculty have worked together to help build an impressive collection of medieval manuscripts in Penn's Van Pelt Library. The well-established weekly seminar in the History of the Material Text, led by Peter Stallybrass, a scholar of Renaissance English literature, makes Penn an excellent choice for students who wish to work with medieval Christian texts at the level of manuscript and textual studies.
Other outstanding sub-fields of medieval Christian studies include Christianity and literature (with special attention to the Bible in Latin and medieval vernaculars), visionary, mystical, and spiritual texts, women in Christian history, and the role of Christianity in medieval global societies and economies.
Knowledge of Latin and at least one modern European language is necessary upon entrance to make the most of these resources. Students interested in comparative studies will, of course, also need Greek, Hebrew, and/or Arabic.