School of Humanities and Sciences


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  • Marisa Galvez

    Marisa Galvez

    Professor of French and Italian

    BioMarisa Galvez specializes in the literature of the Middle Ages in France and Western Europe, especially the poetry and narrative literature written in Occitan and Old French. Her areas of interest include the troubadours, vernacular poetics, the intersection of performance and literary cultures, and the critical history of medieval studies as a discipline. At Stanford, she currently teaches courses on medieval and Renaissance French literature and love lyric, as well as interdisciplinary upper level courses on the medieval imaginary in modern literature, film, and art.

    Her first book, Songbook: How Lyrics Became Poetry in Medieval Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2012, awarded John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America), treats what poetry was before the emergence of the modern category, “poetry”: that is, how vernacular songbooks of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries shaped our modern understanding of poetry by establishing expectations of what is a poem, what is a poet, and what is lyric poetry itself. The first comparative study of songbooks, the book concerns three vernacular traditions—Occitan, Middle High German, and Castilian—and analyzes how the songbook emerged from its original performance context of oral publication, into a medium for preservation, and finally became a literary object that performs the interests of poets and readers.

    Her second book, The Subject of Crusade:Lyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150-1500 (University of Chicago Press, 2020) examines how the crusader subject of vernacular literature sought to reconcile secular ideals about love and chivalry with crusade. This study places this literature in dialogue with new ideas about penance and confession that emerged from the second half of the twelfth century to the end of the thirteenth. Subject argues that poetic articulations are crucial for understanding the crusades as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon, and examines another version of speaking crusades, in which lyric, romance and materials such as tapestries, textiles, and tombstones manifest ambivalence about crusade ideals.

  • Hester Gelber

    Hester Gelber

    Professor of Religious Studies and, by courtesy, of German Studies, Emerita

    BioHester Gelber specializes in late medieval religious thought. She has taught courses on philosophy of religion as well as medieval Christianity. She has written extensively on medieval Dominicans, including: Exploring the Boundaries of Reason: Three Questions on the Nature of God by Robert Holcot OP and most recently It Could Have Been Otherwise: Contingency and Necessity in Dominican Theology at Oxford 1300-1350. She has now retired.

    Professor Gelber received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 and has taught at Stanford since 1978, beginning as a part-time lecturer in Philosophy before moving to Religious Studies in 1982.

  • Fiona Griffiths

    Fiona Griffiths

    Professor of History and, by courtesy, of Religious Studies and of German Studies

    BioFiona Griffiths is a historian of medieval Western Europe, focusing on intellectual and religious life from the ninth to the thirteenth century. Her work explores the possibilities for social experimentation and cultural production inherent in medieval religious reform movements, addressing questions of gender, spirituality, and authority, particularly as they pertain to the experiences and interactions of religious men (priests or monks) with women (nuns and clerical wives). Griffiths is the author of Nuns' Priests' Tales: Men and Salvation in Medieval Women's Monastic Life,The Middle Ages Series (The University of Pennsylvania Press: 2018) and The Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century, The Middle Ages Series (The University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007); she is co-editor (with Kathryn Starkey) of Sensory Reflections: Traces of Experience in Medieval Artifacts (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019) and (with Julie Hotchin) of Partners in Spirit: Men, Women, and Religious Life in Germany, 1100-1500 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Her essays have appeared in Speculum, Church History, the Journal of Medieval History, and Viator. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; and the Institute of Historical Research (University of London).