I am interested in religious cultures, beliefs and practices, and in the social history of small communities and institutions in the central middle ages, including saints’ cults, monasteries, the aristocratic family, and court cultures. I am interested in anthropology and how its insights and approaches might be used in the study of medieval narrative sources. A third interest is in comparative world history, particularly between 500-1500 CE.
I am currently working on the material and religious culture of relics in twelfth and thirteenth century England. My particular interest is in the dynamic positions relics occupy in relation to what are traditionally categorized as economic and religious activities. The aim is to explore a history of the social evaluation of relics.
My book (see publications) on miracle narratives and the cult of saints in twelfth-century England was published early in 2006. It argues for the diffuse social importance of saints’ cults, and for closer attention to be paid to the tensions contained in miracle narratives of religious practice.