Jeffrey A. Bowman joined the history department in 1997. He teaches courses related to Europe and the Mediterranean between 300 and 1500 C.E., the history of Spain and Portugal, medieval travel narratives and food. His research interests lie in three areas: (1) Iberia and the Mediterranean from late antiquity to around the year 1200 C.E., (2) law and conflict in the pre-modern world, and (3) sanctity, hagiography and the cult of saints.

Bowman is currently pursuing two research projects. The first examines women who administered justice (mostly countesses and viscountesses) in Europe between 800 and 1200 C.E.. The second, cult and community in early medieval Spain, explores the interpenetration of ritual and politics. Relying on diplomatic, archaeological and hagiographic evidence, he is examining how saints' cults provide a valuable window onto the articulation of communities and the exercise of power. From the poet Prudentius' account of how the blood of martyrs remade late antique cities like Tarragona and Mérida, to the administrative sanctity of eleventh-century bishops, who opened markets and minted coins, saints' cults on the Iberian peninsula followed a distinctive logic. Understandings of holy and earthly power implicit in sources like these allow us to understand how people created and maintained communities.

Areas of Expertise

Europe and the Mediterranean between 300 and 1500 C.E., Spain and Portugal, medieval travel narratives.


1997 — Doctor of Philosophy from Yale University

1994 — Master of Philosophy from Yale University

1992 — Master of Arts from Yale University

1988 — Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College

Courses Recently Taught

The Honors Program in American studies entails a two-semester sequence of independent work integral to the elective-study program in the major, taken during the senior year. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to AMST 498Y for the spring semester. Permission of instructor and department chair required. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.

Through lectures and discussions, this course will introduce the student to early modern Europe, with special attention to Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia. It will treat such topics as the Reformation, the emergence of the French challenge to the European equilibrium, Britain's eccentric constitutional course, the pattern of European contacts with the non-European world, the character of daily life in premodern Europe, the Enlightenment, the appearance of Russia on the European scene, and the origins of German dualism, as well as the impact of the French Revolution on Europe. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every year.

The European continent is incredibly diverse: geographically, culturally, economically, ethnically and politically (to name only the most obvious factors). Throughout the semester we will explore this diversity of experiences since the end of the 18th century. We will look at issues of race, class and gender, as well as violence, poverty, faith, nationalism, technology and art. We will read novels and memoirs, watch films and listen to music as we hone our historical knowledge and sensibilities regarding modern Europe, its peoples and its governments. We will examine the fates of a variety of nations, using examples from across the continent. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.

Individual study is available to students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a focused research project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. This option is restricted to history majors and cannot normally be used to fulfill distribution requirements within the major. To qualify, a student must prepare a proposal in consultation with a member of the history faculty who has suitable expertise and is willing to work with the student over the course of a semester. The two- to three-page proposal should include a statement of the questions to be explored, a preliminary bibliography, a schedule of assignments, a schedule of meetings with the supervising faculty member and a description of grading criteria. The student also should briefly describe prior coursework that particularly qualifies him or her to pursue the project independently. The department chair must approve the proposal. The student should meet regularly with the instructor for at least the equivalent of one hour per week. At a minimum, the amount of work submitted for a grade should approximate that required, on average, in 300- or 400-level history courses. Individual projects will vary, but students should plan to read 200 pages or more a week and to write at least 30 pages over the course of the semester. Students are urged to begin discussion of their proposals with the supervising faculty member and the department chair the semester before they hope to undertake the project. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline. Proposals must be submitted by the third day of classes to department chair.

Prerequisite: permission of department chair.