A Few Words About Me
I was born and raised in New England, mainly in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in beautiful Berkshire County. As a young person my primary interest was music: I played piano and violin, and dreamed of attending a conservatory. But I also was interested in a whole lot of other things as well, especially the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and so I went to Wellesley College to pursue a liberal arts education. While I was there I continued to study music, even transferring to the New England Conservatory for a year, but came back to Wellesley to complete my degree. I had the worst time in the world figuring out what I wanted to major in, because I had developed a passion for philosophy as well as history and literature. I finally created my own personal major, Intellectual History, and wrote an honors thesis on the 14th century logician and theologian William of Ockham.
After that I floated around for about three years, unwilling to go to graduate school right away because of the dismal academic job market. Finally, I bit the bullet and went to Cornell University, where I studied Renaissance and early modern history, modern European intellectual history, and medieval history. I got my first job at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where the students told me I talked too fast. It was only temporary, as was my next job at Stanford, teaching in the western culture program. Finally, I found my perfect match at St. Olaf, where I have been for over 20 years (it's hard to believe!).
My primary area of research is Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536), whom I love for his open mindedness, his literary gifts, and his quirkiness, manifested over and over in his letters to friends, enemies, and everyone in between. Lately I have been researching his debate with Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer, and trying to translate Bucer's elaborate Latin.
My husband is a church musician whom I met at Cornell. Until recently we had no children, thinking that we probably had enough aggravation in our lives between our jobs, our aviary full of parakeets and cockatiels, and each other. But I was struck by a sudden bolt of insanity (or grace?) when I realized that I wanted to adopt a child from Asia, and my husband insanely agreed with me, and so in 2002 we went to Vietnam to adopt Paul Nghia Carrington-May. I am the oldest mother of an 8-year-old that I know, but I try to compensate by being young at heart. I know Erasmus would approve: he wrote my favorite book, Praise of Folly, to describe just such situations.
In addition to my family, my work, and my birds, I love my garden, bike riding, yoga, and lots of recreational reading. I have also lately taken up horseback riding with my husband, in the belief that we teachers need to keep learning new things so that we don't forget what it's like to be a student.
History Department Website
Erasmus of Rotterdam Society
Sixteenth Century Society and Conference
Sixteenth Century Journal
The Renaissance Society of America
Internet Medieval Sourcebook
The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour
Heartwork Yoga Studio
- History 115: Courtly Love in the Middle Ages
The idea of courtly love typically evokes images of brave knights and fair ladies vowing eternal devotion in elegant language. How such a concept took hold in the early 12th century, and what the consequences have been for people of that time to the present, is the subject of our inquiry. This course explores the ideal of courtly love, its social function, its role in literature, the arts, and music, its ambiguous relaitonship to Christianity and to the feudal system, and finally, its critics, through interpretive reading of texts from the period supplemented by background lectures and readings from secondary sources.
This course examines European history during the period from 300 to 1000. Topics include the culture of late antiquity, the foundation of Christian institutions, the age of migrations, the Byzantine Empire and its relationship with the West, the emergence of Islam, the Carolingian revival, the manorial system, and the development of feudalism, with attention given to women's roles in medieval society throughout the course.
This course introduces students to a selection of topics in women's history during a transitional period in the West and helps them develop a sense of the methodologies of women's history as a field. Topics include the status of women in Renaissance Italy, female rulers during the early modern period, women in the context of humanism, changing conditions for working women, women and the arts, witchcraft, and the impact of the Reformation.
This seminar covers various topics in the history of medieval Europe, depending upon the instructor, and may be repeated if topics are different. The topic for Spring 2010 is Medieval Italy, 1050-1350. The course will consider divergent developments in north, central, and southern Italy during a formative period in the history of the west. Topics include the medieval papacy and Rome; Sicilian history; Frederick II; the city-states of northern Italy; the crusades; Dante.
My Courses, 2012-2013
History 190: Europe from the Ancients to the Renaissance
This course surveys Western history and culture from its origins in the Ancient Near East to the Italian Renaissance. Topics include the ancient world, the beginnings of Christianity, the emergence and disintegration of Rome as a unifying power, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Through original texts and historical studies, students explore relationships among religions, states, and societies and views of natural environments, family life, and gender roles.
History 212: The High and Late Middle Ages
This course covers European history in the period from 1000 to 1500. Topics include the medieval papacy, the Crusades and reconquest of Spain, towns and commercial life, the medieval monarchy, scholasticism in the setting of the universities, late medieval spirituality, and the crises of plague and warfare in the late Middle Ages, with attention given to women's roles in medieval society throughout the course.
Students study Protestant and Catholic religious movements, Luther and other Reformers, political and social institutions, the Protestant family, intellectual traditions, and popular culture and beliefs in this interdisciplinary approach to Reformation Europe. Students also investigate the rise of nation-states, theological debates, the wars of religion, science and learning, printing and communication, and capitalism.
History 237: Women in Medieval Europe
Students explore the experiences of women in both religious and secular life from the period of the late Roman Empire through the 15th century. Topics include women's roles in the early church, changes in the status of women from the late Roman Empire through the Carolingian period, women's monasticism, marriage and the family in the feudal system, courtly love, and late medieval spirituality.
History 217: The Age of the Renaissance
Students examine intellectual, political, social, and spiritual currents, 1300 to 1550, particularly in the City of Florence, but also in broader Italian and European Renaissance contexts. Topics include humanism, the political life of the northern Italian city states, changes in Spirituality and in the life of the church, the status of women, and the development of political theory. Readings include Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Erasmus.
History 315: Seminar: Early Modern Europe
This seminar covers various topics in early modern European history, depending upon the instructor. Topic for 2013: The Early Reformation.
Laurel Carrington firstname.lastname@example.org
Most recent update: Februarly 7, 2013