Rachel Fulton Brown
Associate Professor of Medieval History
Research and Teaching Specialties
- History of Christianity
- Medieval European Cultural, Religious, and Intellectual History
- Liturgy and Prayer
- Devotion to the Virgin Mary
- Scriptural Exegesis and Hermeneutics
- Subcreation and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien
My principal research concerns the
cognitive and affective making of prayer in the monastic culture of the
medieval West, with special emphasis on the practices that developed from
the tenth through the fifteenth centuries for prayer to the Trinity and the Virgin Mother of
God. These practices included the recitation of an office of the Virgin modeled on the monastic liturgy of the Hours and the meditation on the Joys and Sorrows of the Virgin as mediated through the practice of the rosary. My immediate purpose is to find a way to describe monastic and
Marian prayer as a practical art, that is, as a practice that takes skill
and uses particular tools. My ultimate goal is to
develop an understanding of the meaning and importance of the aesthetics of
worship, that is, of worship as itself a creative act.
In pursuit of this goal, I am currently at work on two major projects:
- a monograph entitled The Virgin Mary and the Art of Prayer on the history, experience, and meaning of the so-called Little Office, or Hours of the Virgin Mary (Table of Contents);
- a translation of John of Garland's Epithalamium beate virginis Marie, an elegiac poem of nearly 6000 lines narrating the life of the Virgin from her conception and birth in the Holy Land to her assumption into heaven and marriage to Christ, intended as a textbook in theology and the liberal arts.
"What's in a Psalm? British Library, MS Arundel 60 and the Stuff of Prayer." In Rome and Religion in the Medieval World: Studies in Honor of Thomas F.X. Noble, eds. Valerie L. Garver and Owen M. Phelan, pp. 235-52. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2014.
"Penisgate: Response to Matthew J. Milliner, 'The Sexuality of Christ in Byzantine Art and in Hypermodern Oblivion.'" Religion and Culture Web Forum. The Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, The University of Chicago. January 2014.
"Anselm and Praying with the Saints." In Experiments in Empathy: The Middle Ages, ed. Karl Morrison and Rudolph M. Bell, pp. 95-112. Turnholt: Brepols, 2013.
"Hildegard of Bingen's Theology of Revelation." In From Knowledge to Beatitude: St. Victor, Twelfth-Century Scholars and Beyond. Essays in Honor of Grover A. Zinn, Jr., eds. E. Ann Matter and Lesley Smith, pp. 300-27. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013.
Review of Leslie Brubaker and Mary B. Cunningham. The Cult of the Mother of God in Byzantium: Texts and Images (2011), in The Medieval Review 12.10.08.
"Oratio." In The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism, eds. Patricia Z. Beckman and Amy Hollywood, pp. 167-77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
"My Psalter, My Self; or How to Get a Grip on the Office According to Jan Mombaer (d.c. 1501): An Exercise in Training the Attention for Prayer." Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 12.1 (Spring 2012): 75-105.
"Three-in-One: Making God in Twelfth-Century Liturgy, Theology and Devotion." In European Transformations: The Long Twelfth Century, eds. Thomas F.X. Noble and John Van Engen, pp. 468-97. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012.
Review of Gary Waller, The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature and Popular Culture (2011), in The Medieval Review 12.02.29.
"Mary." In Christianity in Western Europe c. 1000-c. 1500, eds. Miri Rubin and Walter Simons, pp. 283-96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person. Co-edited with Bruce Holsinger. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
"Praying by Numbers." Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, 3rd. series, volume 4 (2007): 195-250.
"Praying with Anselm at Admont: A Meditation on Practice." Speculum 81.3 (July 2006): 700-733.
"'Taste and See That the Lord is Sweet' (Ps. 33:9): The Flavor of God in the Monastic West." The Journal of Religion 86.2 (April 2006): 169-204.
"The Virgin in the Garden, or Why Flowers Make Better Prayers." Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 4 (Spring 2004): 1-23.
From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.
Review of Donna Spivey Ellington, From Sacred Body to Angelic Soul: Understanding Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (2001), in The Medieval Review, 02.03.08.
the 2006 John Nicholas Brown Prize by the Medieval Academy of America
for "a first book or monograph on a medieval subject judged by the
selection committee to be of outstanding quality."
- Awarded the Journal of the History of Ideas Morris D. Forkosch Prize for "the best book in intellectual history published in 2002."
- A Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title of the Year.
- Reviews by Sarah Hamilton, History: Journal of the Historical Association 92.1 (January 2007): 108-9; Sarah Jane Boss, American Historical Review 111.5 (December 2006): 1576-77; Penny J. Cole, Theological Studies 67.4 (December 2006): 886-88; Kevin Madigan, History of Religions 45.3 (February 2006): 270; Marsha L. Dutton, The Catholic Historical Review 92.1 (January 2006): 107-110; Karl Morrison, "Constructing Empathy," Journal of Religion 84 (April 2004): 264-69; M.B. Pranger, "On Devotional Historiography," Dutch Review of Church History 84 (2004); Wanda Zemler-Cizewski, Speculum 79.4 (October 2004): 1071-72; Thomas F.X. Noble, Theological Studies 65.4 (December 2004): 861-64; Arthur G. Holder, Church History 73.1 (March 2004): 197-199; Janice Pinder, The Medieval Review, 04.06.11; Henrietta Leyser, European Review of History--Revue européenne d'Histoire 11.3 (Autumn 2004): 429-30; and Benedicta Ward, Journal of Theological Studies 54.2 (October 2003): 817-18.
"'Quae est ista quae ascendit sicut aurora consurgens?': The Song of Songs as the Historia for the
Office of the Assumption." Mediaeval Studies 60 (1998): 55-122.
"Mimetic Devotion, Marian Exegesis, and the Historical Sense of the Song of Songs." Viator 27 (1996):
The above research has been supported with fellowships from the National Humanities Center (1998-99), the American Council of Learned Societies (1998-99, 2008-09), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2008-09), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1992-93, 2003-06), among others.
My teaching at the University of Chicago has been recognized with the Provost's Teaching Award (2006) and the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2007).
Medieval Studies at The University of Chicago
Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Medieval Studies
Medieval Studies Workshop
Click here for more Ankerstein buildings
Illinois Division of the USFA
Fencing Center of Chicago
My USFA ranking: D12 Foil
My best results:
6th Place Finalist, Veteran Women's Foil 40-49, USFA Summer Nationals, Columbus 2013.
Silver Medalist, Veteran's Women's Foil 40-49, USFA Summer Nationals, Anaheim 2012.
8th Place Finalist, Veteran Women's Foil 40-49; Top 32, Div II Women's Foil, USFA Summer Nationals, Reno 2011.
5th Place Finalist, Veteran Women's Foil 40-49, USFA Summer Nationals, Atlanta 2010.
Other Useful Links
JP Brown's Serious Lego
George Hardy's Ankerstein Builders' Page
Text and photographs copyright Rachel Fulton Brown, 2002-2013.