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Ellen Joyce


Ellen Joyce has been at Beloit since the fall of 2001 and is an associate professor. She holds an undergraduate degree in Humanities from Yale University and received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. Ellen studies the history of Medieval Europe and is especially engaged with questions about the role that the medieval church played in shaping Western European culture between the eighth and twelfth centuries.

Her own research focuses on the way that medieval writers described dreams, visions, and other miraculous events in order to give structure and meaning to the events of the world around them. Her dissertation looked at the ways visions and dreams can be best interpreted through the lens that medieval people would have understood-that is, the intellectual and cultural context of medieval religious experience. Ellen's interests range from a very narrow focus on the meaning of visionary experience in eleventh-century monasteries to much larger questions about what it meant to take religion seriously in pre-modern Europe and how we can even begin to understand that perspective in the twenty-first-century. While religious life and thought are recurring themes in her own studies, she is also intrigued by the role of literacy in the era before printing had been introduced to the west and in how medieval people's experience of words and images might tell us something about life in the new information age.

In the last few years Ellen has begun to explore the potential of using digital technology to enhance her teaching. She served as a member of the advisory council for vHMML, an online resource for the study of medieval paleography and manuscripts ( She also received Beloit’s Phee Boon Kang prize for innovations in technology in 2014 and continues to develop a website for “crowdsourcing” the transcription of letters and diaries in the Beloit College Archives (

Ellen's courses at Beloit include "Medieval European Civilization," "Books and Readers from Antiquity to the Reformation," "Introduction to the College Archives," "Looking East: Medieval Views of Byzantium, Islam, and Beyond," "Saints and Society in the Middle Ages," the History Workshop (History 190), "Renewal and Reform in Early Modern Europe, 1300-1700,” and lab courses on "Medieval Manuscripts" and "Mapping the Middle Ages.”