History of Christianity

Students in this area may specialize in any aspect of the history of Christianity broadly conceived including theology and religious thought, devotional practices and expressions, institutions and movements, social and cultural contexts, and lived religion. Students are expected to develop critical skills of documentary, artifactual and ethnographical interpretation, to develop methodological expertise appropriate for their chosen topic, and to familiarize themselves with the history of interpretive and historiographical traditions in their field. Although projects on all aspects of the history of Christianity are welcomed, the faculty has particular strengths in late antique, medieval, European, transatlantic, Caribbean, and American Christianity. Within those periods and locations there is particular expertise in the history of mysticism and enthusiasm, ethics and religious thought, race, gender and sexuality, radical, liberal, and evangelical expressions of Christianity, and African American Christianity and media culture. Students working on the history of American Christianity are expected to attend the bimonthly North American Religions Colloquium.

Recent Dissertations
  • The Cult of the Saints and its Christological Foundations in Eustratios of Constantinople’s De statu animarum post mortem
  • The ‘Eternal Return’ of the Byzantine Icon: Sacred and Secular in the Painting of Photis Kontoglou
  • Sainte-Anne-du-Petit-Cap: The Making of an Early Modern Shrine
  • No Closure: Catholic Practice and Boston's Parish Shutdowns
  • Protestant Sainthood: Martyrdom, Apocalypticism, and the Meaning of Sanctity in Early New England Failed Pygmalions: The Conversion and “Apostasy” of Pierre-Anthoine Pastedechouan, Seventeenth-Century Montagnais Indian
  • God-talk in the Yard: Religion in the Nineteenth Century Harvard College Curriculum
  • The Irish and the Incarnation: Images of Christ in the Old Irish Poems of Blathmac
  • Traditionary Religion: The Great Awakening and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Southern New England, 1736-1776
  • The Map of the Cosmos and the Ascent of the Soul: Synderesis, Weight, and the Affect in the Thought of Bonaventure
  • Heaven in a Bottle: Franciscan Apocalypticism and the Elixir, 1250–1360
  • The Vital Landscape: Evangelicalism and the Culture of Nature in America, 1790-1870