Early Medieval Forum
When I was a high school student outside Boston at the time of
Kent State, I immersed myself in the anti-war movement and —
inspired by a terrific teacher — the study of US history.
The photo of me is
not quite that old, though it is on the dated side,
but good pictures of me are rare so I'll hang onto it for awhile yet.
Anyway, I thought in high school
that I was headed for a
career in public service, possibly law and government. But then I
went to the University of Toronto, discovered the Middle Ages, and... the
subsequent chapters in my professional life
are pretty clear from
my curriculum vitae.
In the last several years, however,
my dismay at the growing social inequalities in this country and at the
impact of American foreign policy on the rest of the world has led my
scholarly interests back to something akin to their starting point.
I am still fascinated by medieval history,
in particular the history of the Early Middle Ages — a
frequently misunderstood era. The latter
point is discussed in
the volume of essays I have co-edited with Felice Lifshitz,
Methods in Early Medieval Studies.
As a small contribution to the
effort to encourage early medieval studies see, too, the
website of my listserv,
the Early Medieval
Forum. But more overtly
than my past research, my recent projects
concern the contributions that medievalists can
make to the study of and advocacy for
social justice and human rights. A forthcoming volume of essays I am co-editing with Simon Doubleday, Felice Lifshitz, and Amy Remensnyder will explore these issues:
Why the Middle Ages Matter, under contract with Routledge and
expected to appear in early 2011.
Away from the arena of medieval scholarship, trying to put words into practice, I work with community organizations and
pushing for social justice in Camden,
New Jersey, the poorest city in the US. One of these groups is
the Center for Environmental Transformation,
an environmental justice organization affiliated with Sacred Heart Church in the Camden neighborhood of
Waterfront South, an area badly affected by air, water, and ground pollution from
truck diesel fumes,
a nearby sewage treatment plant, scrap metal recycling, and other blights.
Another increasingly important concern for me is penal reform and the new prison education program
(website under construction)
at The College of
New Jersey, an initiative developed in collaboration with the college's
Bonner Center. The program organizes
TCNJ faculty and students and some affiliated instructors who volunteer teach a variety of classes and tutor
maximum, medium, and minimum security inmates in a nearby state correctional facility.
The Times of Trenton
recently ran an article about our program, published on the front page (Saturday July 3, 2010);
the article was picked up by AP and published in a number of
other regional news outlets as well.
The online essays by my husband
Bernard eloquently express a
perspective on current events and social justice matching my own.
The writer and film critic Kam Williams kindly wrote
this article on a lecture
I recently gave in Ireland and my work in Camden.
On the history of Christian beliefs about abortion and their relevance to rethinking current public policy, see here.
On the human and financial costs of America's incessant warfare, especially in
Iraq and Afghanistan, click here
“Prison Instruction: A Respite from Isolation,” by Michele Alperin, US1 News.
“Higher Ed. Behind Bars: College Students, Teachers Take on Job of Instructing Inmates,” Times of Trenton, by David Karas. The story also appeared on AP and in other newspapers.
“Students, Professors Doing Time to Offset Budget Cuts,” MSNBC. Originally published in The Burlington County Times.
On social activism, by Kam Williams
Times of Trenton profile
Teaching at the College of New Jersey
Some of my courses investigate the social, political, cultural, and religious history of western Eurasia
and the Mediterranean, including North Africa, from the Roman Empire to the late Middle Ages.
I have also taught the department survey course, “World History I” (prehistory to 1500) and several seminars on
contemporary social ethics and their ancient, medieval, and post-medieval background.
Course Offered Fall 2010
FSP 115: “Moral and Social Issues in Modern Catholicism”
STUDENTS: click here
for SOCS website