Research

My research revolves around the global communications networks and legal apparatuses of the medieval Church.  In my dissertation, “Imagining Universal Government at the Edge of the World,” I focus particularly on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, an era that witnessed the dramatic growth of a legal and governmental apparatus centered at the papal court, as well as the widespread use of document-based forms of administration throughout Christendom.  My project examines some of the ways in which writers and communities on the medieval European periphery recruited, refashioned, and repurposed the legal principles and official documents of the universal Church for their own ends.  Focusing specifically on a group of medieval Norse texts known as the bishops’ sagas, I demonstrate how Icelandic clerics deployed fictitious papal documents and imagined canonical-legal procedures in order to legitimize some of the thoroughly abnormal practices of Iceland’s native bishops.

Some of my recent presentations and publications include:

“Disseminating and Dispensing Canon Law in Medieval Iceland,” Arkiv för nordisk filologi, vol. 128 (2013), 79-96.

Review of Sara McDougall, Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late Medieval Champagne, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).  In: The Medieval Review 13.10.25.  (With Oren Falk).  http://hdl.handle.net/2022/17008

“Gerald of Wales and the Saint David’s See: A Love Story in Documents,” presented at: Putting England in Its Place: Cultural Production and Cultural Relations in the High Middle Ages, Fordham University (March, 2013). http://www.fordham.edu/mvst/conference13/England/program.html

“Dispensation ‘By the Book:’ Instrumentality and AM 671 4to,” in The Fifteenth International Saga Conference, Sagas and the Use of the Past, 5th-11th August 2012, Aarhus University, ed. A. Nordvig et. al., (Aarhus: SUN-Tryk, 2012), 67-68.  http://sagaconference.au.dk/fileadmin/sagaconference/Preprint-online.pdf

“Bringing the Crusades Home in Árna saga biskups,” presented at: 7th Annual Fiske Conference on Medieval Icelandic Studies, Cornell University (June, 2012).

“Chaste Marriage and Papal Authority in Jóns saga biskups,” presented at: 46th Annual Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (May, 2011).

“The Weight of Experience: John Gower and the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381,” presented at: Cornell European History Colloquium (February, 2011).

“Pope Clement VI and the Flagellants: Plague and Public Penance,” presented at: Cornell Medieval Studies Student Colloquium, Cornell University (February, 2010).

The Miraculous Water of Guðmundr Arason and the Limits of Holiness in Medieval Iceland. M.A. Thesis, University of Iceland, 2008.  http://skemman.is/stream/get/1946/4077/11776/1/Joel_Anderson_fixed.pdf

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