About our staff
Dr Gary Dickson
A.B., M.A., Ph.D., F.R.Hist.S.
As a Californian born and bred, San Francisco remains my American Jerusalem. After Piedmont High School, an excellent state school, I went to Stanford, where I majored in history. This was due to a course I took in my first year, History of Western Civilization, which opened the door to the endless possibilities of history as a way of approaching whatever humans have done, thought and felt. I received my A.B. degree in History and the Humanities (special programme) ‘With Great Distinction’ in 1961. Professor Gavin Langmuir, whose international reputation resulted from his work on medieval antisemitism, especially influenced my decision at Edinburgh to offer an honours seminar on the same subject. At Stanford I edited the literary magazine. Awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, I took my M.A. at Yale in 1963. The outstanding medievalist there was Professor Roberto S. Lopez, an economic historian who could make a thirteenth-century business contract sing like a Petrarchan sonnet. After Yale, I became an Instructor at Texas Western College of the University of Texas at El Paso (1963-64), teaching Western Civ. During that time John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas; I could have told him not to come. Then I moved to Wisconsin State University at Eau Claire (1964-67), again teaching Western Civ, but also Medieval History, Renaissance and Reformation and even American History (the Chairman’s ‘it will be good for you’ ringing in my ears’).
I arrived in Edinburgh in 1967 after experiencing the Summer of Love in San Francisco (never warmed to the Hippies; much preferred the Beats, some of whom could actually write good poetry). When I turned up in George Square, professorial giants ruled. They could be approached, but with caution. Mon maître Denys Hay in Medieval and Renaissance History was a giant, but an amiable one. He was the reason I came to Edinburgh. I’d assigned his books in Texas and Wisconsin. A scholar’s footnotes can be an exercise in self-disclosure. Denys’s suggested humour and cordiality. I wrote to him, and decided to be his student. Years later I had the sad task of writing his obit in The Scotsman. While working on my Ph.D., I also became a tutor for the Open University’s Renaissance course; and a tutor and part-time lecturer at Edinburgh. Edinburgh gave me the third degree in 1975. Denys Hay asked me to purge my prose of Americanisms; and I was happy to comply. Lecturing at Edinburgh, I tried to speak British English most of the time. The one word I couldn’t bring myself to pronounce in British English was ‘schedule.’ From 1981-86 I directed The Antiquary Visiting Scholars Programme of the Denys Hay Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance History, which brought twelve pre-eminent medievalists to give a lecture at Edinburgh each year. For it, I managed to obtain very generous private, commercial sponsorship. 2004 was the year of my obligatory retirement (ageism), transforming me into an Honorary Fellow.
I was invited to deliver a series of eight Wilde Lectures in Natural and Comparative Religion at Oxford University during the academic year 1996-7 on the theme of 'Medieval Pentecostalism'; then in 1997-98 I was elected to Membership of the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A. In 2002, there was a session on 'Urban Revivalism' at the annual conference of the Medieval Academy of America, meeting in New York, which I organized, introduced and chaired. Over the years there were numerous conference talks, too many to mention, along with several appointments as an external examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. But I might mention that I was Featured Speaker at the International Conference on Medieval Children, 1200-1500, at the University of Kent, Canterbury in 2006.
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
I did my Ph.D. thesis on the later medieval cult of saints, and that subject still interests me, although afterwards I branched out, working on medieval revivalism. Movements such as the Flagellants of 1260, the Shepherd’s Crusade of 1251 and the so-called Dancing Mania of 1374. More recently, I have completed a book-length study of the Children’s Crusade of 1212, paying attention to its medieval history, modern mythistory, and memory. Medieval religious collective enthusiasm in all its forms intrigues me. I find an inter-disciplinary approach to human behaviour congenial, and have made use of studies in crowd psychology, sociology, and anthropology (e.g. Arnold van Gennep’s Rites of Passage) to try to make sense of medieval historical phenomena. Medieval emotional life is only now beginning to be studied, especially by continental scholars. In the future I might be tempted to pursue this area.
Current research activities
For the present, it is the sociologist Max Weber’s ‘charisma’ in its medieval religious (and in comparative perspective, modern religious) guises which fully occupies the centre of my attention. To choose only a couple of examples: The Renaissance Dominican Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) and ‘the radio priest’ Father Charles Coughlin (1891-1979) were both religio-political demagogues. In 1096, the popular preacher Peter the Hermit persuaded hordes of peasants to follow him on the First Crusade. In 1974, the American televangelist Jim Bakker began broadcasting, and his programme (according to one commentator) ‘became the most popular religious show on television.’ Were all of these men ‘charismatic’ in the strictly Weberian sense; and if so, what made them ‘charismatic’, and what resulted from their ‘charismatic’ leadership? There is a further question: across cultures and centuries—where Weber fearlessly roamed, deriving sociological patterns from comparative history—what insights can be gained by bringing these disparate instances together?
‘Charisma, Medieval and Modern’
Books published: Gary Dickson, Religious Enthusiasm in the Medieval West: Revivals, crusades, saints (Variorum Collected Studies Series) (Ashgate: Aldershot, Oct. 2000) xvi + 304 pages ISBN 0-86078-825-3. [The introductory essay, revised from my Davis Center seminar paper at Princeton: 'Religious enthusiasm in the medieval West and the second conversion of Europe'.]
|Gary Dickson, The Children's Crusade: Medieval History; Modern Mythistory (Palgrave-MacMillan: Basingstoke & New York, 2008)|
Gary Dickson, Festschrift: Images of Sanctity: Essays in Honour of Gary Dickson (edited by Debra Strickland) (Brill: Leiden & Boston, 2007). Articles published [all publications have been refereed]: Gary Dickson, 'Master John of Toledo (Tolet) the "Albus Cardinalis" (d.1275) in Perugia; St.Juliana's Head; and a mid-fourteenth-century Calendar from Santa Giuliana di Perugia in the University of Edinburgh Library (EUL.MS.29),' Bollettino della Deputazione di Storia Patria per l'Umbria, Vol.LXXXI (1984), pp. 25-75 [this actually appeared in 1986; pp. 56-75 reproduce the calendar and offer detailed annotations on the various saints-days; perhaps the first article to appear in English in this important regional historical journal.] [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'The Advent of the Pastores (1251),' Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire, Vol.LXVI (1988), pp.249-67. [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'Joachism and the Amalricians,' Florensia: Bolettino del Centro Internazionale di Studi Gioachimiti, Vol. I (1987), pp.35-45. Gary Dickson, 'The Burning of the Amalricians,' The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol.40 (1989), pp.347-69. [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'The Flagellants of 1260 and the Crusades,' Journal of Medieval History, Vol.15 (1989), pp.227-67. [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson,'Stephen of Cloyes, Philip Augustus, and the Children's Crusade of 1212' in B.N. Sargent-Baur (ed.), Journeys Toward God: Pilgrimage and Crusade (Medieval Institute Publications, Kalamazoo, Mich., 1992), pp. 83-105. [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'Carisma e revivalismo nel XIII secolo' in A. Paravicini Bagliani & A. Vauchez (eds.), Poteri carismatici e informali: chiesa e società medioevali (Sellerio editore, Palermo, 1992), pp. 96-113. [reprinted in English in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'Clare's Dream' in Mediaevistik, Internationale Zeitschrift für interdisziplinäre Mittelalterforschung, Vol. 5 (1992) [actually published in 1993 or 1994], pp.39-55. [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'La genèse de la croisade des enfants (1212),' Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes, Vol. 153 (1995), pp.53-102. [reprinted in English in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'The 115 Cults of the Saints in Later Medieval and Renaissance Perugia: a Demographic Overview of a Civic Pantheon,' Renaissance Studies, Vol. 12 (1998), pp. 6-25. [reprinted in Religious Enthusiasm collection] Gary Dickson, 'Encounters in Medieval Revivalism: Monks, Friars, and Popular Enthusiasts,' Church History, Vol. 68, no. 2 (1999), pp. 265-93. Gary Dickson, 'The Crowd at the Feet of Pope Boniface VIII: Pilgrimage, Crusade and the first Roman Jubilee (1300),' Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 25, no. 4 (1999), pp. 279-307. Gary Dickson, 'Medieval Christian Crowds and the Origins of Crowd Psychology,' Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique, Vol. 95, n. 1 (2000), pp. 54-75. Gary Dickson, 'Revivalism as a Medieval Religious Genre,' Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 51 (2000), pp. 473-96. Gary Dickson, 'Prophecy and Revivalism: Joachim of Fiore, Jewish Messianism and the Children's Crusade of 1212,' Florensia, 13/14 (1999-2000), V Congresso Internazionale di Studi Gioachimiti: Comunicazioni, pp. 97-104. Gary Dickson, 'Innocent III and the Children's Crusade,' Innocenzo III. Urbs et orbis. (Atti del congresso internazionale, Rome, 9-15 Sept., 1998) ed. Andrea Sommerlechner, Rome, Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo e Società romana di storia patria, 2003, Vol 1, pp. 586-97. Gary Dickson, Angus MacKay & David Ditchburn (eds.), Atlas of Medieval Europe (Routledge, London & New York, 1997) [hardback and paperback editions], pp.119-24, three maps and accompanying commentary. Gary Dickson, Three entries--'Croisades populaires et croisade des enfants' Vol. 1, p. 420; 'Flagellants' Vol. 1, pp. 601-2 and 'Flagellation (pratique de la)' Vol. 1, p. 602 in André Vauchez (ed.) with C. Vincent, Dictionnaire Encyclopédique du Moyen Age, 2 Vols. (French and Italian editions in print: Editions du Cerf, Paris; Città Nuova, Rome, 1997; English version: Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge, 2001). Gary Dickson, 'Joachism' in the Encyclopedia of Millenialism and Millennial Movements, ed. R. Landes (Routledge: New York and London, 2000), pp. 207-8. Gary Dickson, 'Crusade as Metaphor' in "Crusades, The," Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, 26th printing (Encyclopaedia Britannica: Chicago, 2003), Vol. 16, pp. 822-39, here at 838. Gary Dickson, 8 Entries in The Crusades: an Encyclopedia (ed. Alan V. Murray), 4 Vols. (ABC-CLIO, Inc.: Santa Barbara, 2006): "Boniface VIII" (Vol.1, pp.180-81); "Children's Crusade" (Vol.1, pp.242-44); "Crusade of 1309" (Vol.1, pp.311-13); "Passagium generale" (Vol. 3, p.934); "Passagium particulare" (Vol. 3, pp.934-35); "Popular Crusades" (Vol. 3, pp.975-79); "Shepherds Crusade, First" (1251)" (Vol. 4, pp.1093-94); "Shepherds Crusade, Second" (1320)" (Vol. 4, pp.1094-95). Gary Dickson, 'Dante, Boniface VIII and the Jubilee' in Dante and the Church: Literary and Historical Essays (edited by Paolo Acquaviva and Jennifer Petrie) (Published for the UCD Foundation for Italian Studies) (Four Courts Press: Dublin, 2007), pp. 11-24. Gary Dickson, ‘Massacre of the Innocents? Sacral Violence and the Paradox of the Children’s Crusade’ in Under Fire: Childhood in the Shadow of War (edited by Elizabeth Goodenough and Andrea Immel)(Wayne State University Press: Detroit, MI, 2008), pp. 29-38. Gary Dickson, ‘Revivalism and Populism in the Franciscan Observance of the Late Quattrocento’ (Studies in Church History, 44) (Boydell & Brewer for the Ecclesiastical History Society, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2008), pp. 62-76. Gary Dickson, 'Medieval Revivalism' in Medieval Christianity (ed. Daniel E. Bornstein) in the People's History of Christianity, Vol. 4 (gen. ed. Denis R. Janz) (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, Minn., 2009), cap. 5, pp. 147-76. Gary Dickson, 'The Children's Crusade' in the Encyclopedia Britannica (online) (2009) Gary Dickson, ‘Rite de Passage? The Children’s Crusade and Medieval Childhood’ in Journal of the History of Childhood & Youth , Vol.2.3 (2009), pp. 315-32.