Rachel Fulton Brown

Associate Professor of Medieval History, Fundamentals, and the College
PhD 1994 Columbia University

William Rainey Harper Memorial Library,
East Tower, room 686 – Office
(773) 702-4326 – Office telephone
(773) 702-7550 – Fax

On Research Leave, Autumn 2016 & Winter 2017

Mailing Address

The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street, Mailbox 52
Chicago, IL 60637

Website

Field Specialties

History of Christianity; medieval European intellectual, cultural and religious history; medieval liturgy; the cult of the Virgin Mary; scriptural exegesis and hermeneutics

Biography

My research and teaching focus on the intellectual and cultural history of Europe in the Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on the history of Christianity and monasticism in the Latin West. I also offer courses on the history of travel and warfare in the Middle Ages, the history of European civilization, and the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. My first book 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. My current work addresses the interplay between intellect and empathy in the practical development of a discipline of prayer. My immediate purpose is to find a way to describe monastic and Marian prayer as a practical art, that is, as a practice that takes skill and uses particular tools. My ultimate goal is to develop an understanding of the meaning and importance of the aesthetics of worship, that is, of worship as itself a creative act. In pursuit of this goal, I am currently at work on two major projects: a book-length study entitled The Virgin Mary and the Art of Prayer on the history, experience, and meaning of the so-called Little Office, or Hours of the Virgin Mary; and a translation of John of Garland's Epithalamium beate virginis Marie, a thirteenth-century epic poem on the Virgin and her role in salvation.

Publications

Mary in the Scriptures: The Unexpurgated Tradition. The Theotokos Lectures in Theology 7. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2014.

"Exegesis, Mimesis, and the Voice of Christ in Francis of Assisi's Office of the Passion." The Mediaeval Journal 4, no. 2 (2014): 39–62.

"What's in a Psalm? British Library, MS Arundel 60 and the Stuff of Prayer." In Rome and Religion in the Medieval World: Studies in Honor of Thomas F.X. Noble, edited by Valerie L. Garver and Owen M. Phelan, 235–52. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2014.

"Hildegard of Bingen’s Theology of Revelation." In From Knowledge to Beatitude: St. Victor, Twelfth-Century Scholars, and Beyond. Essays in Honor of Grover A. Zinn, Jr., edited by E. Ann Matter and Lesley Smith. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013.

"Anselm and Praying with the Saints." In Experiments in Empathy: The Middle Ages, edited by Karl F. Morrison and Rudolph M. Bell. Turnhout: Brepols, 2013.

"Oratio." In The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism, edited by Patricia Z. Beckman and Amy Hollywood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

"My Psalter, My Self, or How to Get a Grip on the Office according to Jan Mombaer (d.c. 1501)." Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 12, no. 1 (2012): 76–106.

“Three-in-One: Making God in Twelfth-Century Liturgy, Theology and Devotion.” In European Transformations, 950–1200, edited by Thomas F. X. Noble and John Van Engen, 468–97. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012.

"Mary." In Christianity in Western Europe c. 1000–c.1500, edited by Miri Rubin and Walter Simons, 283–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

"Praying by Numbers." Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, 3rd series 4 (2007): 195–250.

History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person, coedited with Bruce Holsinger. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

"Praying with Anselm at Admont: A Meditation on Practice." Speculum 81, no. 3 (July 2006): 700–733.

"'Taste and See That the Lord is Sweet' (Ps. 33:9): The Flavor of God in the Monastic West." The Journal of Religion 86, no. 2 (April 2006): 169–204.

"The Virgin in the Garden, or Why Flowers Make Better Prayers." Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 4 (Spring 2004): 1–23.

From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800–1200. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

  • Journal of the History of Ideas' Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history published in 2002.
  • 2006 John Nicholas Brown Prize by the Medieval Academy of America.

"'Quae est ista quae ascendit sicut aurora consurgens?': The Song of Songs as the Historia for the Office of the Assumption." Mediaeval Studies 60 (1998): 55–122.

"Mimetic Devotion, Marian Exegesis, and the Historical Sense of the Song of Songs." Viator 27 (1996): 86–116.