Willemien Otten

Professor of Theology and History of Christianity



MA (University of Amsterdam)
PhD (University of Amsterdam)

Willemien Otten studies the history of Christianity and Christian thought with a focus on the Western medieval and the early Christian intellectual tradition, including the continuity of Platonic themes. Having worked on Johannes Scottus Eriugena early on, her focus shifted to the twelfth century culminating in her book From Paradise to Paradigm: A Study of Twelfth-Century Humanism (Leiden 2004), in which she offered a re-interpretation of Abelard and ‘Chartrian’ authors like Bernard Silvestris and Alan of Lille. Throughout her writings Otten is especially interested in analyzing (early) medieval thought and theology as weaving biblical, ancient, and patristic influences into the open cultural outlook of medieval humanism. Seeing theological questions embedded in broader historical and interdisciplinary study, and continuing her interest in humanism, Otten is currently involved in a book project on ideas of nature and self, linking, among others, Eriugena and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In her recent co-edited volume (with M. B. Pranger and B. S. Hellemans) On Religion and Memory (New York, 2013) she addresses some of the methodological concerns in thinking along such broad cultural lines. In collaboration with Editor-in Chief Karla Pollmann, Willemien Otten served as Editor for the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (430–2000), a multi-year project now completed and to be published in three volumes by Oxford University Press in fall 2013.


A Dutch native, Otten enjoys putting a practical spin on humanistic study by serving on the Dutch National Task Force for Sustainable Humanities (http://www.regiegeesteswetenschappen.nl), whose aim is to strengthen the position of the humanities in the various Dutch universities.

More information