Professor Julia Smith

Chichele Professor of Medieval History
MA, DPhil, FRSE, FRHistS
University Academic Fellow since 2016

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.