Associate Faculty; Associate Professor of Medieval History in the Department of History, also in the College
PhD (Columbia University)
Rachel Fulton Brown’s research and teaching focus on the intellectual and cultural history of Europe in the Middle Ages, with emphasis on the history of Christianity and monasticism in the Latin West. She also offers courses on warfare and travel in the Middle Ages and on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Her first book, From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800–1200, is a study of the intellectual and emotional origins of the European devotion to Christ in his suffering humanity, with special emphasis on the role of scriptural exegesis and liturgy. It was awarded the Journal of the History of Ideas Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history published in 2002 and the John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy in 2006; it was also a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title of the Year. Her current work addresses the interplay between intellect and empathy in the practical development of a discipline of prayer. She is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim fellowship which she is using to pursue a project on the Virgin Mary and prayer. Professor Brown’s monograph on the history, experience, and meaning of the so-called Little Office, or Hours of the Virgin Mary— Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought — will be coming out in November (Columbia University Press). She is also working on a translation of John of Garland’s Epithalamium beate virginis Marie and editing a volume on Medieval Marian Devotion for Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition.