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Lydia Walker



I am a historian of medieval Europe. In 2018, I completed my Ph.D. entitled “Lay Spirituality, Crusading, and Reform in the Sermons of Jacques de Vitry” at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville under the supervision of Jay Rubenstein. My work examines Latin Christian polemics and what they reveal about the formation of gender and religious identity in the context of thirteenth-century crusading movements. The sermons of Jacques de Vitry, a thirteenth-century preacher, bishop, and statesman, promoted a wide-reaching political and spiritual program to remake the western Christian world, from Paris to Jerusalem. My inquiry into Jacques’ life and thought, undertaken in manuscript libraries throughout England, Italy, and Belgium, showed how he articulated a significant place for women in the otherwise masculine world of conquest and colonization. My work, therefore, uncovers the vital relationship between crusade initiatives and a specifically gendered pastoral care. I am currently revising my dissertation into a monograph by expanding my examination of the affiliation—real and imagined—of clerics and holy women, particularly in the context of war.


In the classroom, I teach my students how to conduct research, to analyze multiple sources (textual and material evidence) in their historical contexts, and to build responsible narratives. I seek to bring my students’ attention to historiographical debates that reveal how the past remains a contested site, and I seek out creative pedagogical techniques, including digital projects, to create a dynamic classroom environment.

Research Interests

Gender, Crusade, Sermons, Hagiography, Clerical reform, Latin polemics, Pastoral Care, religious lay movements, rhetoric of violence, relics, and interreligious dialogue.

Selected Publications

“Spain, Islam, and Thirteenth-Century Dominican Memory,” co-authored with Thomas E. Burman. Convivencia and Medieval Spain: Essays in Honor of Thomas F. Glick. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.


“Crusade and Reform: Jacques de Vitry’s Application of the Book of Revelation.” In The Use of the Bible in Crusader Sources, eds. Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton, 297-314. Leiden: Brill, 2017.

Contact Information

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