Reconsidering the Sources of the Self in the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Periods


Abigail Firey

University Research Professor and Theodore A. Hallam Professor in History Department of History (2017-2019), University of Kentucky, Lexington KY

Abigail Firey is a University Research Professor at the University of Kentucky, who just finished her term as the Theodore A. Hallam Professor in History.  Her research focuses on the intersection of religion and law, an intersection that has tended to take her especially into the domain of canon law: recent publications are on the meaning of the veil for Carolingian religious women and a study of Carolingian debates over the death penalty.  She is preparing for publication an article on early medieval interpretation of the scriptural injunction to care for the stranger.  Such work continues the exploration of materials that illuminate the formation of moral culture in the early middle ages, an interest that informed her monograph A Contrite Heart: Prosecution and Redemption in the Carolingian Empire (2009) and the anthology she edited, A New History of Penance (2009).  At present she is preparing with her collaborator, Melodie Eichbauer,  a three-volume study of the formation of legal culture in western Europe, from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, for which they received an ACLS Collaborative Fellowship.  This past summer she had an NEH Summer Stipend fellowship for “Lady Justice’s Schoolrooms: Learning Law in the Holy Roman Empire (Germany and Italy, ca. 800-1000)”.  This research situates legal history in the contexts of particular communities, in part to probe the adaptation of legal norms to community needs and concerns.  She is delighted to have the opportunity to bring to this workshop questions relating to perceptions of the culprit’s place in the community, and the place of sin in the culprit.

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