I'm a historian of the early Middle Ages, and I'm currently serving as the associate dean for the humanities in the college. My research focuses on the mechanics of culture. 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, cognition, the interplay between science and religion, and ecologies.
A bit about my books: The Wandering Mind (available in January 2023) tracks early Christian monks' frustrations with distraction and their inventive and sometimes contentious efforts to make themselves concentrate. Legions of Pigs 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. And 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. Or if an amuse-bouche is more your thing, you can head over to Aeon for some medieval advice for dealing with distraction in a digital age; I've also written a couple of short pieces about jokes in the Middle Ages that appear here and here.
My work has been awarded prizes from the Medieval Academy of America, the American Society for Environmental History, 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.
"Our Pigs, Ourselves," Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 51, no. 4 (2021): 553-65
"Agricultural Brokers," Early Medieval Europe 28, no. 3 (2020): 425-43
"Pigs in the Flesh and Fisc: An Early Medieval Ecology,” Past & Present 236 (2017): 3-42.
“Autopsies and Philosophies of a Merovingian Life: Death, Responsibility, Salvation,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 22 (2014): 113-52.
“About the Bishop: The Episcopal Entourage and the Economy Of Government in Post-Roman Gaul," Speculum 86 (2011): 321-60.
PhD, Princeton University, 2011