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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools

Medieval Religion

Its topicality, methods and sources
People in a church, lighting candles
Our Sweet Lady Star of the sea in Maastricht, 15th century statue, still a major target for pilgrimage today, source Maria – Gereformeerde Kerk PKN Lunteren (

In society today, medieval religion is omnipresent. This is not only true in European city- and village-scapes, where medieval churches are still dominant features, but also in popular media such as games and television as well as in politics, where the Middle Ages are invoked either as the epitome of backwardness and cruelty, or as the golden age of white supremacy, true spirituality, and selfless heroism (to name but a few of the widely diverse images that the phrase ‘Middle Ages’ gives rise to).

In the summer school students will be challenged by specialists in the field of medieval religion to position and develop their own research in relevant scholarly and cultural contexts. The instructors will give masterclasses from their own specialties (e.g. intellectual history, heretical and reform movements, interreligious relations, liturgy, gender and diversity). Groningen is an eminent place for a school on medieval religion, not only because of the unique expertise of the staff, added to with lecturers from the USA (funded by Fulbright) and Nijmegen, but also because its land- and cityscapes offer a clear example of the presence of the Middle Ages.

The school will be offered on site and hybridly.

Practical information

22 - 27 June 2023 (Thursday - Saturday; Monday - Tuesday)
Groningen, the Netherlands & online

(re)MA, Phd, PostDoc

  • € 180,- (includes lunches, coffee, a dinner, and excursions)
  • € 150,- (only online participation)
Academic coordinator

Dr. Mathilde van Dijk, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies



This summer school is designed for Graduate Students (Master and Research Master students) and Postgraduate students (PhD students and postdocs).

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Learning outcomes

After this summer school:

  • Students can situate medievalist research, especially their own, in current scholarly, societal and cultural debates.
  • Students can critically reflect on the uses of contemporary theories of religion to the study of the Middle Ages and, if helpful, apply these creatively in their medievalist research.
  • Students can critically reflect on the contemporary relevance and topicality of medieval studies.
  • At an advanced level, students get to be trained in the setting up of medievalist research projects and the study of sources, with an eye to publication and acquiring funding.
  • Students can assess sources and literature in the interest of their own projects as shown in a presentation and a reflection paper.


  • Participation
  • Presentation on the last day on how to use the material of the summer school in one’s research
  • Reflection paper on how to use the material of the summer school in one’s research. 1500 words max.

Certificate of Attendance

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Summer School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 100 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Introduction to lecturers
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Prof. Dr. Christopher M. Bellitto is Professor of History at Kean University in New Jersey. He will give a workshop entitled: Medieval Church Reform: Words and Deeds, Successes and Failures and the keynote lecture Politics and Religion in the Middle Ages and Today: Thoughts of an American Medievalist. A specialist in church reform, Bellitto’s books include Renewing Christianity; his latest is Humility: The Secret History of a Lost Virtue (Georgetown University Press). He has twice won grants from the US National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Visiting Scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Bellitto also serves as Editor in Chief of Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition and Academic Editor at Large for Paulist Press.

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Dr. Mathilde van Dijk, Gender and Diversity: Medieval, medievalist and medievalesque
Mathilde van Dijk is assistant professor of Church History and Gender Studies at the University of Groningen. She published widely on the history of late medieval reform, particularly on how the Early Church was appropriated in male and female religious communities in the Devotio Moderna and among the Carthusians, specifically in the Low Countries and the Rhineland. The appropriation of saints is of special interest to her. In addition, she has a second specialty in medievalism: how the Middle Ages are used as heritage, specifically in popular culture.  She is currently working on a monograph on the appropriation of the Early Church in the Devotio Moderna, and three volumes on the reception of Thomas a Kempis’s De imitatione Christi (to be published in Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition), Saints and Animals, and on First Contact (between aliens and humans).

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Dr. Andrew J. M. Irving, Medieval Liturgy
Andrew Irving is Assistant Professor of Religion and Cultural Heritage at the University of Groningen. His research focuses on medieval liturgy, and in particular material aspects of liturgical manuscripts, their production, adaptation, and use. Southern Italian liturgical sources form a core of this work, he has also written the important Ottonian manuscript known as the Uta Codex, and he recently published a survey of material aspects of all Latin manuscripts containing the gospels before ca.800.  He is co-editor of  On the Typology of Liturgical Books from the Western Middle Ages (2023), and Medieval Latin Liturgy: A Research Guide (Brill, in preparation). 

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Prof. dr. Daniela Müller, Medieval Times, church debates and heresy: The Cathars in the spotlight
Daniela Müller studied theology, history and German literature in Würzburg, Rome and Bonn. From 1985 to 2001 she was a member of the academic advisory board of the Centre D’Etudes Cathares‘ in Carcassonne and from 1993 to 1996 a fellow of the DFG in Würzburg and Jena. Between 2001 and 2009 she was appointed professor of Church History in Utrecht and Tilburg. Since 2009 she is appointed professor for Church History/Canon Law and History of Christianity at Radboud University in Nijmegen/Netherlands. Since 1998 she also teaches history of canon law at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University in Münster/Germany. Together with Prof. Dr. Joseph Verheyden/Leuven she is founder of the Center ‘Polemikos’ and in 2021 she has been nominated Senior Fellow in the Freiburg Research Collaboration Programme (DFG). Her work focuses on the ecclesiastical discipline, particularly on the concepts of orthodoxy and heterodoxy and on the history of dissident communities.

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Dr. Edmund Hayes, Purity
Edmund Hayes is a historian of the social, cultural and religious history of the medieval Middle East. He focuses on minorities in empire, with a particular focus on the Shi'i Muslim minority within the Islamic empire’s diverse landscape of Muslims, Jews and Christians, and other groups, through topics such as hierarchy, alms collection, pilgrimage and excommunication. He is currently working on water and purity, within the context of Maaike van Berkel's "Source of Life'' project at Radboud University.

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Prof. dr. Kocku von Stuckrad, Not "Dark" at All: The European "Middle Ages" as a Hotspot of Religious Pluralism
Kocku von Stuckrad is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. His work asks for the place of 'religion' as entangled with philosophy and the sciences, as well as with art, literature, and public culture. He studies the genealogy of contemporary European and North American discourses on religion, which he traces from the ancient world through the twentieth century. He is the author of Locations of Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Esoteric Discourse and Western Identities (Brill, 2010). His most recent book is A Cultural History of the Soul: Europe and North America from 1870 to the Present (Columbia University Press, 2022).

Course schedule Application procedure

To apply, kindly fill out the online application form. Please note that you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (max. 2 pages)
  • Motivation letter, clearly stating why you want to join this summer school, what you will bring to the school and what you hope to learn (max. 1 page)

The deadline for application is 1 April 2023. Selected applicants will be informed by 15 April 2023.

Last modified:03 March 2023 3.10 p.m.