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Samantha Herrick 2021

Samantha Kahn Herrick

Contact Information:


527 Eggers Hall

Samantha Kahn Herrick

Associate Professor, History Department

Advisory Board Member, Center for European Studies

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2002
M.Phil., Oxford University, 1993


Samantha Herrick’s research focuses on Europe in the central Middle Ages (roughly 700 to 1300), particularly the uses and significance of Latin hagiographical legends. In addition to studying how and why medieval people fashioned and disseminated stories about the past, she is also interested in how historians can use problematic but abundant hagiographical legends to supplement the very limited number of more “reliable” sources that survive.

Her first book, "Imagining the Sacred Past: Hagiography and Power in Early Normandy" (Harvard University Press, 2007), demonstrated the political significance of legends celebrating largely imaginary saints in eleventh-century Normandy. She recently edited a volume on history and hagiography, in which leading scholars demonstrate just how to use such sources and what can be learned from them.

She is currently writing a monograph about a sizeable but neglected body of apostolic saints’ lives, tentatively entitled "Networks of Shared Imagination: Apostolic Legends of Medieval Europe." This book explores the legends’ local significance, how they traveled over space and time, and how numerous authors drew on them to construct a larger historical vision.

She has been a Fulbright Fellow; Professeur invitée at the Université Paul Verlaine in Metz (France); a member of the Institute for Advanced Study; a Faculty Fellow at Syracuse’s Humanities Center; and a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She teaches courses on medieval civilization, the Crusades, the legend of Mary Magdalen, and the history of food in pre-modern Europe.

Areas of Expertise

Medieval European history, Christian hagiography and apostolic legends, France

Research Interests

Medieval European history, saints and hagiography, memory, literacy, networks, urban history, rivalry, pilgrimage, circulation of texts

Research Grant Awards and Projects

Solmsen Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2016-17
Syracuse University Humanities Center Faculty Fellow, spring 2015
Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., 2011-12.
Appleby-Mosher Faculty Research Grant, Syracuse University, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Professeur invitée, Université Paul Verlaine, Metz (France) Nov.-Dec. 2007
Pigott Faculty Research Grant, Syracuse University, 2006
Center for European Studies, Syracuse University, Faculty Course Development Grant, 2004
Harold K. Gross Prize, awarded by the Harvard University Department of History for the dissertation showing greatest promise of a distinguished career of historical research, 2003
Packard Humanities Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2001-2002
George Chase Christian Scholarship, Harvard University, 1996-2002
Fulbright Fellowship for Research in France, 1999-2000
Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Field Research Fellowship, 1999-2000
Harvard University Lurcy Traveling Fellowship (declined), 1999-2000
Ephraim Emerton Fellowship in History, Harvard University, 1995-1996
Euretta J. Kellet Fellowship, awarded by Columbia University for two years of graduate study at Oxford University, 1991-1993


Networks of Shared Imagination: Apostolic Legends of Medieval Europe (in progress)

The Saint and Her Town: Martha of Bethany and Medieval Tarascon (in progress)

“A Fifteenth-Century Pilgrim’s Book from Provence” (in progress)

“Getting Ahead in a Twelfth-Century City: The Ambitious Monks of Saint-Clément, Metz,” in The Learned and Lived Law: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue, ed. Saskia Lettmaier, Nikitas Hatzimihail, Elizabeth Papp Kamali (2022).

"'Very Great Strife': The Monks of Saint-Clément as Competitors in Twelfth-Century Metz," Journal of Medieval History 46 (2020) DOI: 10.1080/03044181.2020.1812423.

Hagiography and the History of Latin Christendom, 500-1500. Editor. Reading Medieval Sources, 4. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

“Saints’ Lives on the Move: The Circulation of Apostolic Legends,” in Hagiography and the History of Latin Christendom, 500-1500: A Companion, ed. Herrick, 78-97.

"Friend or Foe? The Bishops of Metz in Monastic Historical Narrative, c. 1000-c. 1200," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 71 (2020): 252-69.

"Apostolic Founding Bishops and Their Rivals," in Espace sacré, mémoire sacrée: Le culte des évêques dans leurs villes (IVe-XXe siècle), ed. Christine Bousquet-Labouérie and Yossi Maurey, Hagiologia 10,(Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), 15-35.

"The Interdependent Vitae of Apostolic Saints," Hagiographica: Rivista di agiografia e biografia della «Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino» 19 (2012): 33-56.

"Le pouvoir du passé apostolique," in Hagiographie médiévale: idéologie et pouvoir. Colloque international du Centre d'Études superieures de Civilisation médiévale de Poitiers, ed. E. Bozoky (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012), 129-38.

"Studying Apostolic Hagiography: The Case of Fronto of Périgueux, Disciple of Christ,"Speculum 85 (2010): 235-270. 2010.

"Remembering the Vikings in the Duchy of Normandy," Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 3rd ser. 7 (2010): 1-25. (Abstract). 2010.

"Between Neighbors and Saints: Waleran I of Meulan and the Allegiance of Lesser Lords in the Eleventh Century," Haskins Society Journal 20 (2008, published 2009): 78-93. 2009.

"Rivalry and Alliance: Conceptualizing Ecclesiastical Networks in the Middle Ages," European Studies Forum 38 (Oct. 2008): 36-39. 2008.  

Imagining the Sacred Past: Hagiography and Power in Early Normandy. Harvard Historical Studies 156. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2007.

"Heirs to the Apostles: Saintly Power and Ducal Authority in Hagiography of Early Normandy," in Robert F. Berkhofer III, Alan Cooper, and Adam J. Kosto, eds. The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe, 950-1350. Aldershot: Ashgate. 11-24. 2005.

"Reshaping the Past on the Early Norman Frontier: Vigor of Bayeux," Haskins Society Journal 12 (2003): 133-149. 2003.

Papers and Presentations

27th International Medieval Congress, "Hagiography and History: Where Do We Go From Here?" Round Table, moderator. Leeds, UK, July 2020 [cancelled].

27th International Medieval Congress, "Bishops Without Borders? The Legendary Travels of Apostolic Founding Bishops,"  Leeds, UK, July 2020 [cancelled].

Sewanee Medieval Colloquium, "Positing Saints" (respondent), Sewanee, TN, April 2020 [cancelled].

New York State Association of European Historians, "Recycling History: Borrowing the Past in the Middle Ages," Buffalo, NY, Sept. 2018

25th International Medieval Congress, "Gone but Not Forgotten: Saints Omitted from the Legenda aurea,"  Leeds, UK, July 2018.

“Bad Sources? Seeing the Middle Ages through Apostolic Hagiography,”Department of History/Classics, Medieval, and Early Modern Studies Graduate Research Cluster/Simpson Center for the Humanities; University of Washington, Seattle, WA, April 2017

“Networks of Shared Imagination: Medieval Legend and the Construction of History,” Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, Feb. 2017

91st Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, "Seeking Advantage in Twelfth-Century Metz: The Multifaceted Strategies of the Monks of Saint-Clément,” Boston, MA, February 2016

22nd International Medieval Congress, "Friend or Foe? The Bishops of Metz in Monastic Historical Narrative, c. 1000-c. 1200," Leeds, UK, July 2015

21st International Medieval Congress, "Hagiographical Networks: Sharing Stories about Apostolic Saints," (Session organizer), Leeds, UK, July 2014

20th International Medieval Congress, "Cooperative Cults? The Intertwined Legends of Apostolic Saints," Leeds, UK, July 2013

Syracuse University, History Department Workshop, "Networks of Imagination: Apostolic Legends in the Middle Ages," Syracuse, NY, Dec. 2012

Quodlibet Society, Cornell University (invited lecture), "Intertwined Stories: The Overlapping Vitae of Apostolic Saints," Ithaca, NY, April 2012

Medieval Table, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, "Agendas and Interconnections: Apostolic Legends," Princeton, NJ, April 2012

Medieval Table, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, "A Web of Interconnected Legends: Making Sense of Apostolic Hagiography," Princeton, NJ, Oct. 2011

St. Peters College, Oxford, Colloquium to honor Henry Mayr-Harting, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History Emeritus (invited paper), "Peter's Staff: Miraculous Revivals, Traveling Tales, and Networks of Apostolic Sanctity," Oxford, UK, April 2011

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Working Group, Syracuse University, "Puzzling Over Apostolic Hagiography: A Case Study, Questions, and Possibilities," Syracuse, NY, Dec. 2010

"Apostolic Founding Bishops and Their Rivals / Les évêques fondateurs apostoliques et leurs rivals," Studium Conference - Sacred Space, Sacred Memory: Bishop-Saints and Their Cities, Université François Rabelais, Tours (France), June 2010.

"Hagiographie medievale: ideologie et pouvoir," Colloque international, Centre d'Etudes superieures de Civilisation medievale de Poitiers (invited paper), "Le pouvoir du passe apostolique", Poitiers, France, Sept. 2008

Cornell University European History Colloquium (invited paper) "Lenquais Becomes Lycaonia: The Dossier of Fronto of Perigueux and the Study of Apostolic Hagiography", Ithaca, NY, March 2008

16th Biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, "Inventing Apostolic Tradition in Medieval Perigueux", Sarasota, FL, March 2008

"Texts in Motion," the 2008 Marco Institute Manuscript Workship, "The Hagiographical Dossier of Fronto of Perigueux, Knoxville, TN, Feb. 2008

"Recontres d'histoire du Moyen Age," Centre Regional Universitaire Lorrain d'Histoire, Universite Paul Verlaine, Metz (invited lecture), "L'Apostolicite dans l'hagiographie medievale de France: Problemes et possibilites, Metz, France, Dec. 2007

14th International Medieval Congress, "The apostolicity of St. Fronto of Perigueux", Leeds, UK, July 2007

82nd Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, "Holiness and History: Apostolic Tradition in Frankish Hagiography, Toronto, Ont., April 2007

25th Annual Meeting of the Charles Homer Haskins Society, "Betwixt and Between: Waleran of Meulan and His Powerful Neighbors", Washington, D.C., Nov. 2006

13th International Medieval Congress, Organizer and Moderator of Session "Exploring Apostolicity: Apostolic Traditions in Medieval France", Leeds, UK, July 2006

Quodlibet Society, Cornell University (invited lecture), "Imagining Sacred Pasts: Hagiographic Legends of Medieval France", Ithaca, NY, Oct. 2005

12th International Medieval Congress, "Inventing Apostles in Hagiography of Medieval France", Leeds, UK, July 2005

40th International Congress on Medieval Studies, "A Sacred Realm: Apostolic Saints and the Collective Identitiy of France", Kalamazoo, MI, May 2005

11th International Medieval Congress, "Remembering the vikings in the Duchy of Normandy", Leeds, UK, July 2004

50th Annual Meeting of the Society for French Historical Studies, "From Local Rivalry to Collective Myth: Legends of Apostolic Foundation in Hagiography of Medieval France", Paris, France, June 2004

10th International Medieval Congress, "Heirs to the apostles: Saintly Power and Ducal Authority in Hagoigraphy of Early Normandy", Leeds, UK, July 2003

20th Annual Meeting of the Charles Homer Haskins Society, "Reshaping the Past on the Early Norman Frontier: Vigor of Bayeux", Ithaca, NY, Oct. 2001

36th International Congress on Medieval Studies, "Early Saints and Their Reuses in Later Periods: Vigor of Bayeux, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2001

Previous Teaching Appointments

Syracuse University, Associate Professor of History, Syracuse, N.Y., August 2009-present
Syracuse University, Assistant Professor of History, Syracuse, N.Y., August 2003-2009
Northeastern University, Lecturer in History, Boston, Mass., Winter 2003
Harvard University, Tutor and Teaching Fellow, Cambridge, Mass., 1997-2001