Joel Anderson

I am a historian of medieval Europe with broad interests in cultural history, religious history, and the Norse world. I received my bachelor’s degree from Bates College and subsequently studied at the University of Oslo, the University of Iceland, and Cornell University, where I completed my PhD.

My research revolves around issues of communication, imagination, and authority, particularly in the high and late medieval church. In my first book, Reimagining Christendom, I examined how clerics on the northern fringes of Europe refashioned and repurposed the legal principles and official documents of the Roman church for their own ends. In the process, I argued, these churchmen constructed visions of ecclesiastical order that underscore the diversity and dynamism of Christendom as a whole. My recent articles have appeared in Speculum, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, and elsewhere.

I regularly teach Medieval Civilization (HTY 202) and the History of Ancient and Medieval Europe (HTY 105). I also offer courses on heresy and witchcraft (HTY 235), the Vikings (HTY 427), and a number of other subjects in European history. My recent upper-level seminars have examined the medieval papacy, the history of the book, and medieval historiography.


Reimagining Christendom: Writing Iceland’s Bishops into the Roman Church, 1200–1350 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023).

Recent Articles and Book Chapters:

Bishop Guðmundr’s Roman Redemption: Imagining and Suspending Papal Government in Medieval Iceland,” Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 95:3 (July 2020): 657–88.

Ecclesiastical Government, carte blanche: Filling Out Forms in Lárentíus saga biskups,” Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 15 (2019): 1–27.

“The Weight of Experience: John Gower and the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381,” in: Vernacular Aesthetics in the Later Middle Ages: Politics, Performativity, and Reception from Literature to Music, ed. Katharine Jager (Palgrave, 2019), 23–45.

Recent Book Reviews:

Review of Neil Price, Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings, (New York: Basic Books, 2020). In: History: Reviews of New Books, 49:2 (March 2021): 44–45.

Review of Eleanor Parker, Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England, (London: Bloomsbury, 2019). In History: Reviews of New Books, 48:6 (November 2020): 157–58.

Review of Ann Christys, Vikings in the South: Voyages to Iberia and the Mediterranean, (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). In The Journal of Military History, 80:4 (October 2016): 1186–87.

Major Grants and Fellowships:
Summer Faculty Research Award, Office of Research Development (2020)

Pre-tenure Faculty Research and Creative Activity Fellowship, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2018)

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography, Rare Book School, University of Virginia (2014–16)

Andrew W. Mellon / ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2014–15)

Fulbright Grantee, Norwegian Fulbright Foundation (2006–07)