I'm a historian of the early Middle Ages, and I teach courses about Europe and the Mediterranean in the late antique and medieval periods. My research focuses on the mechanics of culture, including how medieval communities themselves thought that knowledges and commitments were communicated, adopted, and affected by other forms of power. I'm especially interested in the quieter forces that shape ethical systems — forces that were not always purposeful, individual, or human — and it's a thread that runs through my research on narrative, social forms of cognition, the interplay between science and religion, and animals.
My first book, The Social Life of Hagiography in the Merovingian Kingdom, highlights how the cultures of Christianity and government defined each other in the early medieval society of Gaul through an astutely crafted literary form. The book I'm working on now ("Legions of Pigs: Ecology and Ethics in the Early Medieval West") examines pigs as both objects and subjects, to measure the impact that this species had on early medieval culture and to highlight the surprising ways that early medieval societies handled their lived environments. You can get a short introduction to some of these pigs here. I've also written a couple of short pieces about jokes in the Middle Ages (yes, they existed!) that appear here and here.
My work has been awarded prizes from the Medieval Academy of America, the Society for French Historical Studies, the Agricultural History Society, the University of Georgia, and the Whiting Foundation. And my research has been supported by several grants and fellowships, including a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University and a Mellon Fellowship for Assistant Professors at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.