Thematic Research Area
Regional Research Area
Ph.D., UCLA, 2002
On Research Leave, July 2022–July 2023
Member, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2015–16
Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, University of Cologne, 2014–15
Visiting Scholar, UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2009–10
- Early medieval Europe
- Rhetoric, narrative, and hermeneutics
- Literacy and textual criticism
- Latin philology
- Codicology, transmission of texts, and intertextuality
- Political theology and l’augustinisme politique
1. My current project, Kings of Themselves: Varieties of Conscience in Carolingian Europe, investigates the notion of conscience, the distinctions of interiority/exteriority, and discourses of truth-finding and truth-telling during and after the reign of Charlemagne’s son Louis the Pious. It builds on my earlier work regarding the public penance of Louis in 833, the specific moral discourse by which that controversial event was interpreted and re-interpreted, and how its enduring memory both demonstrated and itself informed later discourses of ministry, morality, and truth. I now wish to investigate early medieval notions of truth, trust, and hidden sin more generally — what one scholar has recently referred to as a “typically Carolingian” discourse on the emptiness of solemn gestures and pronouncements informed by deception. Why was such discourse of doubt “typical” of the Carolingians? What did the co-emperors Louis the Pious and his son Lothar mean when they demanded that everyone scrutinize and follow their “conscientia” for the well-being of the realm? How was this collective, purportedly therapeutic examination of conscience to be conducted and verified, and how could the guiding influence of conscience itself be kept under control? What was the source and extent of its power, and how did it relate to law and justice, sovereignty and necessity, self and the soul? Within a moral community organized by principles and degrees of honor and shame, what were the links between the individual private Christian conscience and social ideas of scandal and public utility? Why did a layman, Nithard, believe in 843 that men had become callous, conscienceless beasts, while a contemporary laywoman, Dhuoda, believe rather that men should model themselves on sensitive beasts that act conscientiously by instinct? In short, how was conscientia related to being Christian? to being a man or a woman? to being human?
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.
Recent Conference Papers
“The Modesty of the Dog-Man: Varieties of Conscience in Carolingian Europe,” delivered as part of the panel “Terminological Tensions: Reconsidering Key Categories of Late Antique and Early Medieval Research, III – Parsing Minds,” at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, U.K., 6 July 2021
“Carolingian Harts and Minds: or, On Remembering to Forget to Remember,” delivered at the Historisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany, 17 May 2019
“Forgetting and Remembering Handexemplare: Authors’ Copies as Evidence in the Twenty-First Century,” delivered at Cultural Sustaining / Kulturelles Nachhalten: Perspectives of the Arts and Humanities, International Research Collaboration Workshop, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, 16 April 2019
“False Hope and Real Fear in Nithard’s Libri historiarum,” delivered at “Visions of Medieval Studies in North America: A Conference in Honor of Patrick J. Geary,” University of California, Los Angeles, 13 April 2019
“Introduction” and Organization, 45th annual Medieval Workshop, “Theologies of the Political: From Augustine to Agamben, and Beyond,” University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, 29–30 March 2019
“The Two Sorrows of Nithard” (Trivent: Budapest, in press).
with Hans Hummer, and Dana M. Polanichka, “Introduction,” in Courtney M. Booker, Hans Hummer, and Dana M. Polanichka, eds., Visions of Medieval Studies in North America and Europe: Studies on Cultural Identity and Power (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022), 9–28.
“An Alleged Oratio of Boniface to Pippin in 751,” in Courtney M. Booker, Hans Hummer, and Dana M. Polanichka, eds., Visions of Medieval Studies in North America and Europe: Studies on Cultural Identity and Power (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022), 379–420.
“By the Body Betrayed: Blushing in the Penitential State,” in Matthew Gillis, ed., Carolingian Experiments (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022), 221–43.
“Science in the Service of Melodrama: Remembering the Carolingians in the Nineteenth Century,” postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 10.2 (2019): 176–93.
“Murmurs and Shouts: Speaking the Conscience in Carolingian Narratives,” in Philippe Depreux, Stefan Esders, eds., La productivité d’une crise: Le règne de Louis le Pieux (814–840) et la transformation de l’Empire carolingien / Produktivität einer Krise: Die Regierungszeit Ludwigs des Frommen (814–840) und die Transformation des karolingischen Imperium (Ostfildern: Thorbecke, 2018), 343–58.
“By Any Other Name? Charlemagne, Nomenclature, and Performativity,” in Rolf Grosse, Michel Sot, eds., Charlemagne: Les temps, les espaces, les hommes. Construction et déconstruction d’un règne (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018), 409–26.
“Hypocrisy, Performativity, and the Carolingian Pursuit of Truth,” Early Medieval Europe 26.2 (2018): 174–202.
“Iusta murmuratio: The Sound of Scandal in the Early Middle Ages,” Revue Bénédictine 126.2 (2016): 236–70.
“Addenda to the Transmission History of Dhuoda’s Liber manualis,” Revue d’histoire des textes n.s. 11 (2016): 181–213.
“The False Decretals and Ebbo’s fama ambigua: A Verdict Revisited,” in Karl Ubl and Daniel Ziemann, eds., Fälschung als Mittel der Politik? Pseudoisidor im Licht der neuen Forschung. Gedenkschrift für Klaus Zechiel-Eckes [Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Studien und Texte 57] (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2015), 207–42.
“The Dionysian Mirror of Louis the Pious,” Quaestiones Medii Aevi Novae 19 (2014): 241–64.
“Reading a Medieval Narrative: An accessus,” in Janos Bak and Ivan Jurković, eds., Chronicon: Medieval Narrative Sources. A Chronological Guide with Introductory Essays [Brepols Essays in European Culture, 5] (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 35–67.
“An Early Humanist Edition of Nithard, De dissensionibus filiorum Ludovici Pii,” Revue d’histoire des textes n.s. 5 (2010): 231–58.
“Histrionic History, Demanding Drama: The Penance of Louis the Pious in 833, Memory, and Emplotment,” in Helmut Reimitz and Bernhard Zeller, eds., Vergangenheit und Vergegenwärtigung: Frühes Mittelalter und europäische Erinnerungskultur [Forschungen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters 14], (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009), 103–27.
“The Public Penance of Louis the Pious: A New Edition of the Episcoporum de poenitentia, quam Hludowicus imperator professus est, relatio Compendiensis (833),” Viator 39.2 (2008): 1–19.
“A New Prologue of Walafrid Strabo,” Viator 36 (2005): 83–105.
“Byte-Sized Middle Ages: Tolkien, Film, and the Digital Imagination,” Comitatus 35 (2004): 145–74.
“The Demanding Drama of Louis the Pious,” review essay of Ivan Gobry, Louis Ier: Premier successeur de Charlemagne (Paris, 2002), in Comitatus 34 (2003): 170–75.
“Imitator daemonum dicor: Adalhard the Seneschal, Mistranslations, and Misrepresentations,” Jahrbuch für internationale Germanistik 33 (2001): 114–26.
“The Codex purpureus and Its Role as an Imago regis in Late Antiquity,” in Carl Deroux, ed., Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History (Brussels: Latomus, 1997), 8:441–77.
“Precondition to Miracle: The Construction of Discernment and Its Application in the Works of Sulpicius Severus and Gregory of Tours,” Orpheus: Rivista di umanità classica e cristiana 18 (1997): 182–95.
“Latin Terms for Damming and Diverting Water,” Bulletin Du Cange (archivum latinitatis medii aevi) 54 (1996): 93–98.
“Vermiculatus as Scarlet in Jerome,” Orpheus: Rivista di umanità classica e cristiana 16 (1995): 124–26.
Reviews et al.
Review of Rutger Kramer, Rethinking Authority in the Carolingian Empire: Ideals and Expectations during the Reign of Louis the Pious (813–828) (Amsterdam, 2019), in The Medieval Review (TMR 21.08.26).
Review of Anne A. Latowsky, Emperor of the World: Charlemagne and the Construction of Imperial Authority, 800–1229 (Ithaca, 2013), in American Historical Review 119.3 (2014): 958–59.
Review of Nithard, Histoire des fils de Louis le Pieux, ed. and trans. Philippe Lauer, rev. Sophie Glansdorff (Paris, 2012), in Early Medieval Europe 21.2 (2013): 229–32.
Review of Abigail Firey, A Contrite Heart: Prosecution and Redemption in the Carolingian Empire (Leiden, 2009), in Speculum 87.1 (2012): 211–14.
Review of Patrick Wormald and Janet L. Nelson, eds., Lay Intellectuals in the Carolingian World (Cambridge, 2007), in Early Medieval Europe 18.3 (2010): 363–65.
Review essay of Gabriel Piterberg, An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play (Berkeley, 2003), in Comitatus 35 (2004): 265–71.
Review of Elizabeth Valdez del Alamo and Carol Stamatis Pendergast, eds., Memory and the Medieval Tomb (Aldershot, Brookfield, 2000), in Comitatus 32 (2001): 219–24.
Review essay of Paul Edward Dutton, Charlemagne’s Courtier: The Complete Einhard (Peterborough, Ontario, 1998), in Comitatus 30 (1999): 179–87.
Review of Luigi Ricci, Problemi sintattici nelle opere di Liutprando di Cremona (Spoleto, 1996), in Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 34 (1999): 147–48.
“Interview with Patrick J. Geary,” Comitatus 29 (1998): 1–20.
Prefaces to first (1934) and second (1955) edition of Henri-Xavier Arquillière, L’Augustinisme politique: Essai sur la formation des théories politiques du Moyen-Age, second ed. (Paris: Vrin, 1955), 19–50.
Ludger Rid, “Die Wiedereinsetzung Kaiser Ludwigs des Frommen zu St. Denis (1. März 834) und ihre Wiederholung zu Metz (28. Februar 835),” in Heinrich M. Gietl, Georg Pfeilschifter, eds., Festgabe Alois Knöpfler zur Vollendung des 70. Lebensjahres (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1917), 265–75.
Reinhold Kaiser, “Guibert de Nogent und der Bischofsmord in Laon (1112): Augenzeuge, Akteur, Dramaturg,” in Natalie Fryde, Dirk Reitz, eds., Bischofsmord im Mittelalter/Murder of Bishops (Göttingen, 2003), 121–57.
Louis Halphen, “La pénitence de Louis le Pieux à Saint-Médard de Soissons,” in Bibliothèque de la Faculté des Lettres de Paris XVIII, troisièmes mélanges d’histoire du Moyen Age (Paris, 1904), 177–85.
American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant, 2018
UBC Humanities and Social Science (HSS) Research Grant, 2016
Killam Teaching Prize, 2009
SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2008–11
Medieval Academy of America, Book Subvention Award, 2008
American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant, 2007
Hampton Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant, Large Grant, 2004–05, 2007–08
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medieval History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick (declined), 2003–04
Gerhart B. Ladner Postdoctoral Lecturer in Medieval History, UCLA, 2003
Lynn White, jr., Fellowship, UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1999–2000
Peter Jones (in progress), “Following the Multiple Temporalities of Merovingian Gaul”
Josh Timmermann (2021), “Temporality, Authority, and ‘Ancient Christianity’ in the Carolingian Era”
Georg Heinzle (2019; co-supervised with Prof. Karl Ubl, University of Cologne), “Flammen der Zwietracht: Deutungen des karolingischen Brüderkrieges im 9. Jahrhundert”
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)
David Patterson (2013), “Adversus paganos: Disaster, Dragons, and Episcopal Authority in Gregory of Tours”
(Awarded prize for best thesis of cohort)
Johanna Goosen (2008), “The Chalice and the Cup: The Changing Role of Wine in the High Middle Ages”
Undergraduate History Honors Theses
Chenyang Li (2022), “Contrition and Emulation: Ambrose’s De apologia prophetae David and Its Carolingian Reception”
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)
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)
Mohamad Ballan (2008), “Fraxinetum: A Glimpse into the Mediterranean World of the Tenth Century?”
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)
Kelsey Mack (2007), “Indirectly Critical: The Treatment of Louis the Pious by Einhard and Paschasius Radbertus”
Undergraduate Medieval Studies Theses
Peter Jones (2011), “Temporum series praestitit: Order and Truth in the Texts of Gregory of Tours”