My current research concerns the medieval practice of ‘death-bed entry’ to monastic life. Medieval people believed that taking the monastic habit, even at the last minute, meant no time in purgatory, and a clear path to heaven. But what would happen if a knight or noblewoman who had become a religious did not immediately die, and then had a change of heart? Such occurrences were common enough that they caused many monastic orders to reconsider the practice, and to defend in court the promises and donations made to them. The practice also drew criticism from reformers and satirists, such as Gerald of Wales, who claimed that the entrants were insincere and the monasteries that accepted them were simply greedy.
In addition to a monograph and textbook, I have also published articles in Cîteaux; Teaching History; Revue Mabillon; The Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage; The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writings; and the customizable class reader Exploring the European Past.
During the years when most people attend college, I lived in Europe, performing in Belgium, England, Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. I spent two years conducting graduate research in France. During my time as a college professor, I led study abroad and alumni trips to Egypt, France, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, and Turkey.
In 2017, I designed and participated in the reconstruction of a medieval pilgrimage, from Burgundy France to Northern Scotland. Another pilgrimage is in the works for summer 2020, from Burgundy to Monte Cassino, just south of Rome.
I hope soon to lead more trips to Europe for adult learners. Stay tuned.
I write for both popular and academic audiences.
I am currently working on a memoir about a 1300-mile pilgrimage I joined in 2017, from the Abbaye du Val-des-Choux in Burgundy, France, to Pluscarden Abbey in northern Scotland.
My popular writings include “The Battle of Falkirk,” in Medieval LEGO (2015), “Hanging Little Joe on the Suburban Ponderosa, Or, What has the Middle Ages to do with the Old West?” in the Journal of the West (2015), and Hold Fast to What is Good: A History of Augsburg University in 10 Objects (on sale now).
My academic publications include New Monks in Old Habits: The Formation of the Caulite Monastic Order, 1193-1267 (2014), The Medieval Church: A Brief History, 2nd ed. (2013), and “Santiago de Compostela,” in Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage (2010).