Assistant Professor of History
University of Alberta Edmonton
Department of History and Classics
My current work focuses on gendered aspects of late medieval apocalypticism, the connection between evil, sin and apocalyptic rhetoric, and its political uses and abuses. This last strand has led me to consider both the historical and contemporary dimensions of the nexus apocalypticism/gender/sex, in which a strict sexual morality is enjoined on various groups via apocalyptic preaching: the Jehovahs Witnesses, the Promise Keepers, as well as more traditional fundamentalist evangelical preachers. The age-old trope of sexual control in the shadow of the End Times (cf. The Great Whore of Babylon) is still being actualized in potent and highly emotive forms. I am also pursuing a line of thinking and research that suggests links between the gendered sexual sinfulness of late medieval apocalyptic (referring specifically to the Antichrist, his mother, his conception and birth) and the analogous medieval and early modern "gendered sexual sinfulness" of witchcraft discourse and beliefs. Demonic influence, gender and ethnicity combine in specific ways to produce what may be variant surface manifestations of the same fundamental belief systems and emotional patterns.
My book The Red Jews. Antisemitism in an Apocalyptic Age, 1200-1600 (Leiden: Brill, 1995) explores the interactions between medieval Christian attitudes to Jews and apocalyptic belief/expectation, both Christian and Jewish. The legend of the red Jews, almost unknown outside a narrow range of specialized literature on sub-literary vernacular texts, was one of the most important and widespread popular ways of articulating both anti-Jewish sentiment and apocalyptic angst—the red Jews were, according to this legend, the accomplices of Antichrist who would break out of their prison stronghold in the mountains at the end of time and destroy Christendom. Transmitted only via vernacular texts and outside the ken of learned (Latin) exegesis, this legend shaped German visions of Jews and their role in the End Time from around 1270 to 1600. My other articles explore different facets of apocalyptic thought and belief concerning the Antichrist, the Ten Tribes of Israel, Gog and Magog, and world maps (which almost always depicted and commented on one or the other of these threatening peoples). My last article, on the "orientalizing ethnography" of Gog and Magog on medieval and early modern world maps, is a cultural history of cartographic apocalyptic.