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History Department

Molly Lester

Assistant Professor, Medieval European History


Ph.D. - Princeton University
M.A. - Princeton University
B.A. - University of Florida


Research Interests

I study late antique and early medieval Europe, with a focus on the history of Christianity. My research interests include heresy and orthodoxy, liturgy, early medieval canon law, the Carolingian reception of Iberian intellectual traditions, and the early medieval church and its slaves.

 My current project, The Word as Lived: The Practice of Orthodoxy in Early Medieval Iberia, c.500-711, explores how early medieval Iberian Christians sought to define and actualize orthodox belief through a broad spectrum of activities ranging from liturgical rituals to everyday moral living. By studying changes in religious practice and in the imagination of religious practice, I trace changing Christian notions of access to the divine, how Christians conceptualized unity and diversity within their religious communities, and what it meant to practice orthodoxy in a (supposedly) entirely Christian world.


“The Ties that Bind: Diagnosing Social Crisis in Julian of Toledo’s Historia Wambae.” In Historiographies of Identity: Social Functions of Historical Writing from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Vol. 2: Post-Roman Multiplicity and New Political Identitiesed. by Helmut Reimitz and Gerda Heydemann (Turnhout: Brepols) (forthcoming)


 Review of Rome and Religion in the Medieval World: Essays in Honor of Thomas F.X. Noble, ed. by Valerie L. Garver and Owen M. Phelan, Journal of Church History (forthcoming)

Fellowships and Awards

2017 Fellowship at the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford University (declined)

2017 University of Kentucky University Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)

2014-2015 Graduate Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University


My teaching interests include late antiquity, the early and high middle ages, medieval heresy and orthodoxy, the Crusades, gender and the body in early Christianity, medieval Spain, the history of slavery and serfdom, and the Vikings.

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