Bynum, Caroline

University Professor Emerita, Medieval Europe


Ph.D. - Harvard University, 1969
B.A. - University of Michigan, 1962


Interests and Research

Professor Bynum works on the religious, cultural, social, and intellectual history of western Europe from late antiquity to the end of the sixteenth century. In the 1980s and 1990s her work on gender and the history of the body established some of the paradigms still used in medieval studies. Recently her research has focused on devotional practices, especially devotional objects, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. She is currently exploring the paradox of Catholic survivals, including the survival of women’s monasticism, in Protestant Germany.


Courses (since retired)

  • Devotional Objects in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe


Selected Awards

  • MacArthur Fellow, July, 1986 - July, 1991  
  • Philip Schaff prize for Holy Feast and Holy Fast, 1989
  • Trilling Prize, and Award for Excellence from AAR, for Fragmentation and Redemption, 1992
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected 1993
  • Member, American Philosophical Society, elected 1995
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize of Phi Beta Kappa, and Jacques Barzun Prize of the American Philosophical Society, for The Resurrection of the Body, 1995, 1996.
  • Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, Columbia University, 1997
  • Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, Chosen by NEH, 1999
  • Centennial Medal of the Harvard Graduate Society, 2001
  • Mark van Doren Award for Teaching, awarded by Columbia College, 2002
  • Gründler Prize, Award for Excellence from AAR, and Haskins Medal of the Medieval Academy of America, for Wonderful Blood, 2007, 2009, and 2011
  • Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste of the Federal Republic of Germany, elected 2012.
  • Grosses Verdienstkreuz mit Stern (Grand Merit Cross with Star) of the Federal Republic of Germany, awarded 2013.
  • Honorary degrees from 15 American and Foreign Universities



  • American Historical Association
  • Medieval Academy of America
  • American Society of Church History
  • American Catholic Historical Association
  • Hagiography Society              
  • Berkshire Conference of Women Historians
  • Society for Values in Higher Education (elected, 1977)
  • American Society for the Study of Religion (elected, 1986)
  • Medieval Club of New York
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected, 1993)
  • American Philosophical Society (elected, 1995)




Docere Verbo et Exemplo: An Aspect of Twelfth-Century Spirituality (1979)

Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages

Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols. ed. Bynum, Harrell, and Richman, (1986).

Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (1987)

Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (1991)  

The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (1995)

Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages. ed. Bynum and Freedman (2000)

Metamorphosis and Identity (2001)

Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond (2007)

Christian Materiality: An Essay on Late Medieval Religion (2011).


Scholarly Articles

"Why All the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist's Perspective," Critical Inquiry 22 (1995)

“The Presence of Objects: Medieval Anti-Judaism in Modern Germany,” CommonKnowledge 10 (2004)

“Seeing and Seeing Beyond: The Mass of St. Gregory in the Fifteenth Century,” in The Mind’s Eye: Art and Theology in the Middle Ages, ed. Bouché and Hamburger (2005)

“Perspectives, Connections and Objects: What’s Happening in History Now?” Daedalus (2009)

“Why Paradox? The Contradictions of My Life as a Scholar” The Catholic Historical Review 98 (2012)

“Gender, Generations, and Faculty Conflict: Will Academe’s Mothers and Daughters Repeat the Errors of Its Fathers and Sons?” The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 19, 2012)

“The Sacrality of Things: An Inquiry into Divine Materiality in the Christian MiddleAges,” The Irish Theological Quarterly 78 (2013)

“Notes from the Field: Materiality,” The Art Bulletin 95.1 (2013)

“Avoiding the Tyranny of Morphology, Or, Why Compare?” History of Religions 53 (2014)

“Part of the Problem,” Common Knowledge 21.1 (2015)

“‘Crowned with Many Crowns’: Nuns and Their Statues in Late Medieval Wienhausen,” The Catholic Historical Review 101 (2015)