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Professor Julia Smith

MA, DPhil, FRSE, FRHistS
University Academic Fellow since 2016
Chichele Professor of Medieval History
My current research addresses the materiality of Christian experience in the Middle Ages. I am concerned with ‘things which do things’, and use an ethnographic approach to exploring how, why and in what social contexts a wide range of material substances acquired a sacred aura, serving as mediators between humans and the divinity. The result will be a book on the emergence and development of the cult of relics from the 4th to the 11th centuries. This research draws heavily on approaches and methodologies derived from my earlier publications on the history of women and gender in the early Middle Ages (a field in which I retain a strong interest) but also has a strong cross-cultural dimension. Beyond that, I am interested in developing interdisciplinary approaches to studying the abundant material remains of late antique and early medieval relic-objects which I have discovered while undertaking field work in the treasuries of some of Europe’s oldest churches.
Professor Julia Smith
  • Background

    • Edwards Professor of Medieval History, University of Glasgow (from 2005 to 2016)
    • Reader in Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews (from 1995 to 2005)
    • Assistant then Associate Professor, Department of History, Trinity College, Hartford, CT. (from 1986 to 1995)
    • Temporary Lecturer in History, University of Manchester (from 1983 to 1986)
    • Temporary Lecturer in Mediaeval History, University of St. Andrews (from 1982 to 1983)
    • Temporary Lecturer in History, University of Sheffield (from 1981 to 1982)
    • Postgraduate at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (from 1978 to 1981)
    • Undergraduate at Newnham College, Cambridge (from 1975 to 1978)
  • Research interests

    • Late antique and early medieval history c.400-1100
    • History of women and gender
    • Cultural history of religion (especially medieval saints' cults, hagiography and relics)
  • Selected publications

    • 'Portable Christianity: relics in the medieval West (c.700-1200)', Raleigh Lecture in History for 2010, Proceedings of the British Academy 181 (2012) pp. 143-67
    • Cambridge History of Christianity, volume III: Early Medieval Christianities AD 600-1100, co-edited with Thomas F X Noble (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
    • Europe After Rome: A New Cultural History 500-1000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) pp. xiii+384.
    • Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900, co-edited with Leslie Brubaker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)
    • Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West (Leiden: Brill, 2000)
    • Province and Empire: Brittany and the Carolingians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
  • Research awards and grants

    • Leverhulme Trust: Major Research Fellowship (from 2013 to 2016).
    • Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton: Fellowship (2013).
    • Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton: Cotterill Membership (from 2008 to 2009).
    • Arts and Humanities Research Board: Research Leave (from 2003 to 2004).
    • Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton: Fellowship (2001).
    • Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study: Fellowship (from 1999 to 2000).
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (from 1992 to 1993).
    • K W Hughes Memorial Research Fellowship, Newnham College, Cambridge (from 1988 to 1989).