1990 …2020

Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Although born in Britain, I received my later secondary education and did my initial university studies in history (BA and MA) in Auckland, New Zealand. Subsequently, I did doctoral study at the University of Oxford, UK, followed by five years (1980-1985) teaching British civilisation at the Universite de Paris III, while pursuing my own studies in medieval thought (focusing on Peter Abelard) in connection with Jean Jolivet, at the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes en sciences religieuses. This was followed as two years as a Leverhulme research fellow at the University of Sheffield, UK, working with Prof. David Luscombe, on editing the writings of Peter Abelard.

I came to Australia in July 1987, when I took up a position at Monash University as Lecturer in the Dept of History. Since then I have become involved in developing the Centre for Religious Studies and in promoting studies in religion more generally, with a strong interest in interfaith work. I have had spells of study at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 1990 and 2000, and at St John's College, Cambridge, and have also taught in Paris. 

Research interests

My research interests have centred around the evolution of medieval philosophy, theology and religious thought, within its cultural, political and social context. In particular, I have focussed on the thought and writings of both Peter Abelard and Heloise, and of their contemporaries in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries, having edited Abelard’s Theologia and become a recognised authority on his life and thought. In the 1990s, I extended my interests beyond the schools to the visionary writings of Hildegard of Bingen, and the broader issue of intellectual activity outside a formal academic context. This led me to work on the impact of gender of religious thought and culture, editing a volume Listen Daughter about the Speculum virginum and the formation of religious women (2001), as well as into questions of eco-theology. My continuing research into Abelard drew my attention to the Epistolae duorum amantium and to the writing of The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard (1999), followed up by a joint intellectual biography, Abelard and Heloise, published in the series Great Medieval Thinkers, edited by Brian Davies with OUP, New York (2005). I was involved with Karen Green and Janice Pinder in completing an annotated translation of the Book of Peace of Christine de Pizan (Penn State, 2008), awarded a prize for a scholarly translated by the Modern Languages Association of America. While my research interests have expanded to comparative religion, financial ethics, and music theory, my major current writing project is a book, The Scholastic Revolution: Community, diversity and the invention of theology 1000-1300. Other team projects in which I am currently involved, include annotated editions and translations of medieval music theory medieval writings on ethics addressed to women, medieval encyclopaedias (involving collaboration with specialists in IT) and on Franciscan intellectual and religious culture—resulting in a range of journal articles and co-edited and co-authored publications.

Research area keywords

  • Medieval
  • Theology
  • Faith
  • Medieval Culture
  • Religious Thought
  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Medieval Theology
  • Medieval Intellectual Thought
  • Medieval Music Theory
  • Comparitive Religion
  • Franciscan Culture


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