B.A. Washington and Lee University, 2009
M.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013
M.A. Thesis: “‘Act therefore to be a virago of the Lord’: Eleventh Century Ecclesiastical Reform and New Forms and Perceptions of Lay Female Religiosity”
My research interests include European history during the High Middle Ages, with focuses on religious history, gender history, and cultural history. Extending the work begun in my thesis, my dissertation project focuses on the new patterns of lay female religiosity in England and France that developed as part of the clerical reform movement of the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the Roman Church. Despite the extensive scholarship on the ecclesiastical reforms, the roles that lay noblewomen played within that reform have been relatively under-researched. By examining correspondence exchanged between clerical reformers and lay noblewomen, narrative histories, charters, and several vitae of women dating from this period, my research will show women as agents of cultural and social change through their participation in various ecclesiastical reforms. Their performances of lay female religiosity were built upon clerical and secular reformers’ evolving ideal of a politically and socially active female agent of the Christian Church who used her position in her family and her rank as a member of the nobility to manipulate currents of reformist sentiment and incorporate new forms of religious devotion into the traditional feminine performance of piety. I aim to create a synthesis between the current gender-discursive scholarship and a new focus on the social ramifications of lay noblewomen’s reformist actions.