Prof. Deeana Klepper




Office hours

Hildegard of Bingen, Earth
twelfth century

Reading Guide 9/9

Reading Guide 9/14

Reading Guide 9/21

Reading Guide 9/28

Reading Guide 10/5

Reading Guide 10/13

Reading Guide 10/19

Reading Guide 10/26

Reading Guide 11/2

Reading Guide 11/9

Reading Guide 11/16

Reading Guide 11/23

Reading Guide 11/30



Short Papers

Research Paper

Due Dates: proposal: 10/26
bibliography: 11/16
paper: 12/7

Links to reference material and research aids for medieval European religious history


All students should familiarize themselves with the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Conduct Code and adhere to it. Please see also my plagiarism policy








This course explores the variety and evolution of Christian beliefs and practices in medieval Europe from the fifth century CE (emergence of distinctive Latin and Greek Christianities) through the early sixteenth century (Reformation) within and outside formal Church structures. We will read and analyze primary sources on diverse topics including the conversion of Europe and religious acculturation of pagan peoples, the power and appeal of Christian saints, Christian kingship and notions of appropriate Christian power, monastic, scholastic, and lay piety, pilgrimage and Crusade, dissent and institutional response, the relationship to those outside the faith, religious developments in the fifteenth century and Protestant and Catholic divergence. 

Required Texts:

• Joseph H. Lynch, The Medieval Church: A Brief History (Longman, 1992) ISBN 0582494672

• Sharan Newman, Strong as Death (Bella Rosa Books, 2008) ISBN 1933523271

Also: a set of readings available in pdf format on a blackboard site and a number of internet documents, linked to the syllabus here

Suggested Texts for Background Reading, on reserve in Mugar:  Barbara Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages; R. N. Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe, c. 1215-c.1515

Please bring reading materials to class on the day(s) they are assigned, including printouts of web documents or a laptop for viewing them.

Course Requirements for RN 307

Students are expected to attend and participate in every class. All reading is to be completed before the class for which it is assigned. Written work for the class will include three short analytical papers, a midterm exam, a ten page research paper on an approved topic within the field of medieval Christianity, and a final exam. The grading for the course will be as follows: 10% for class participation, 20% for the responses, 20% for the midterm, 20% for the research paper and 30% for the final exam. The class participation grade will be based on attendance, participation in discussion, and the level of preparedness and involvement in the course.

If you know that you will miss class because you are sick or are away from school for an emergency, please try to let me know ahead of time, if possible, via phone or e-mail.  More than three unapproved absences during the semester may result in a lowered overall grade in addition to an unsatisfactory class participation grade.

Please note that students must complete all written work in order to receive a passing grade for the class.

Course Requirements for RN 607 & STH TX 817

In addition to mastering the material required of undergraduates, graduate students are also expected to familiarize themselves with current scholarship in the field of medieval Christianity and to develop a critical understanding of the relevant issues in scholarship. Additional reading for graduate students includes the following two articles and any three books from the graduate reading list.

John Van Engen, "The Christian Middle Ages as an Historiographical Problem," American Historical Review 91 (1986), 519-52 (access on line via JSTOR) and Van Engen, "The Future of Medieval Church History" Church History 71 (2002), 492-522 (also available on JSTOR).

Graduate students will write three- to four-page reviews of the three additional books and will be asked to make brief (5-10 minute) presentations to the class summarizing the work and placing it within the context of the general course syllabus. In lieu of the undergraduate research paper, graduate students will write a twelve- to fifteen-page bibliographic review essay examining the state of scholarship on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor. Graduate students are not responsible for the undergraduate exams, but they are responsible for the three analytical papers, which will be judged by a standard appropriate to graduate level work.



Week I Reconstructing Medieval Christianity
9/2 First class
9/4 J. Lynch, The Medieval Church, pp. 19-29; F. Van Liere, "Was the Medieval Church Corrupt?"

Week II Monasticism
9/7 Labor Day: No class
9/9 Lynch, 29-34; 129-132; St. Benedict, Rule for Monasteries; Caesarius of Arles, Rule for Nuns [blackboard site]
9/11 J. LeClercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God, 11-24 [blackboard site]; William of St. Thierry on Lectio Divina

Week III The Conversion of Europe
9/14 Lynch, 35-53
9/16The Apostles' Creed; The Nicene Creed; The Conversion of Clovis
9/18 Bede, On the Conversion of England; Life of St. Columban Chapters 6-22; St. Columban's Boat Song; Jane Tibbets Schulenberg, Forgetful of Their Sex, 177-209 [blackboard site]

View the Lindisfarne Gospels at the British Library on line: click on link for "pinnacle of Anglo Saxon art"

Week IV Sacraments of the Church
9/21 Lynch, 273-302
9/23 The Seven Sacraments; Sermon stories on the Eucharist; Sermon stories on Penance
9/25 Joseph Dyer, "The Medieval Mass and Its Music" (Introduction through the Table 1)

Week V Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Final Judgment
9/28 No Class Meeting, but read Lynch, 256-272
9/30 "Tundale's Vision," in Eileen Gardiner, Visions of Heaven and Hell before Dante, 149-180 [blackboard site]
10/2 Gardiner, Visions of Heaven and Hell, 180-195

View images from a 14th-century manuscript of the French mystery play, "The Day of Judgment"

Week VI Medieval Church and State
10/5 Lynch, 59-72; 118-129; 136-145
10/7 Pope Leo the Great: On the Petrine Doctrine; Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne
10/9 B. Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State, excerpts [blackboard site]

Week VII Saints, Relics and Pilgrimage
10/12 NO CLASS: Columbus Day
10/13 (Tuesday)
Bernard of Angers, "The Miracles of St. Foy"[blackboard site]; Aquinas on Veneration of Relics [ARTICLE 6 ON THE PAGE]
10/14 Jacob Voragine, The Golden Legend: On the Translation of the body of the Apostle James, son of Zebedee to Compostela in Spain; A Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela [blackboard site]
10/16 Sharan Newman, Strong as Death

Interactive Map of the Pilgrimage route to St. James of Compostela, including a virtual tour of the cathedral

Week VIII Violence: Christian and Unchristian
10/21 T. Head and R. Landes, eds., The Peace of God.  Social Violence and Religious Response in France around the Year 1000, 327-342 [blackboard site]
10/23 Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood; Excerpts from Housley, Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land [blackboard site]

Week IX Urbanization and Religious Revival
10/26 Lynch, 183-215; 228-238; Images of Chartres Cathedral
10/28 "Our Lady's Tumbler" [blackboard site]; Thomas Celano, The Life of St. Francis; Giotto's Images from the Upper Church at Assisi (from "artist" link at top of page select Giotto, then select "Frescoes at San Francesco," then "St. Francis Legend")
10/30 Darleen Pryds, "Rose of Viterbo: A Thirteenth-Century Street Preacher"[blackboard site]

Week X Dissent
11/2 Lynch, 216-227; Glossary of dissenters
11/4 E. Peters, ed., Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, 139-163 [blackboard site]; The Conversion of Waldo; Selections from the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): A-general; B-heresy; C-Jews
11/6 David Burr, Introduction to Inquisition and translation of Peter Olivi, Apocalypse Commentary and Bernard Gui, Manual for inquisitors; the Trial of Na Prous Boneta

Week XI Intellectual Culture (Theology)
11/9 Lynch, 239-255; Anselm's Proslogium; Peter Abelard, Excerpt from Sic et Non; The Story of My Calamaties
11/11 NO CLASS: Veterans' Day
11/13 Aquinas Reading [blackboard site]: Summa, Part I, Question 13

You may want to explore the fabulous Medieval Manuscript Manual put together by Central European University

Week XII Courtly Culture (Romance)
11/16 Quest for the Holy Grail, 31-66 [blackboard site]
11/18 Quest for the Holy Grail, 80-94 [blackboard site]
11/20 Quest for the Holy Grail, 269-284 [blackboard site]

Week XIII Urban/Popular Culture (Drama)
11/23 R. Beadle, and P. King, eds., York Mystery Plays: a selection in modern spelling, ix-xxx, 8-14; 48-58, 267-279 [blackboard site]; computer simulation of the York production
11/25 NO CLASS: Thanksgiving
11/27 NO CLASS: Thanksgiving

Week XIV From Reform to Reformation
11/30 Lynch 315-345
12/2 Jean Gerson, "Sermon at the Council of Constance"[blackboard site]; Condemnation of John Wycliff and Wycliff's Response
12/4 Martin Luther, "Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans" [blackboard site]

Week XIV


12/7 Student Presentations
12/9 Student Presentations
12/11 Student Presentations

Final Exam: Thursday, December 17, 3-5 PM

Deeana Klepper Home

Religion Department Home