I am a European medievalist who specializes in the history of religion, but more broadly speaking I am interested in the circulation, reception, and transformation of ideas. I have written, for example, on clerical education, the circulation of books, and the construction of personal and institutional libraries by members of the secular clergy in fifteenth-century Germany as well as on the legend of the Magi, the wise men from the East who make a brief, tantalizing appearance in the Gospel of Matthew. Recently I have begun to explore medieval attitudes towards games of chance and games of skill in literature, law, and art.
At the University of New Haven I serve as both the Honors Program Director and as a Lecturer in the department of History. I teach courses that stress the history of ideas; for example, I have taught a course about how Greek, Roman, and medieval ideas affected the expectations and behavior of Christopher Columbus and another that traced concepts of crime and punishment from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Enlightenment. I also use Reacting to the Past’s innovative pedagogy, which transforms the classroom into an elaborate, historically rigorous role-playing game. The immersive, competitive environment fostered by this method encourages students to engage with big ideas and classic historical texts in a new way.