Caroline Walker Bynum headshot

Caroline Walker Bynum

Professor Emerita
School of Historical Studies

European Medieval History


Historical Studies

Caroline Bynum’s work has been instrumental in introducing the concept of gender into the study of medieval Christianity. Her path-breaking books, Holy Feast and Holy Fast (1987) and The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christendom (1995), created the paradigm for the study of women’s piety that dominates the field today and helped propel the history of the body into a major area of premodern European Studies. Her essays “Why All the Fuss About the Body?” (1995), “Wonder” (1997), “Avoiding the Tyranny of Morphology” (2014), and “Interrogating ‘Likeness’” (2020) are widely cited in discussions of historical method. Her recent work, in Christian Materiality (2011) and Dissimilar Similitudes (2020), is a radical reinterpretation of the nature of Christianity on the eve of the reformations of the sixteenth century and an exploration of theoretical problems concerning questions of historical comparison. She is currently continuing to work on Christian devotional objects in comparative perspective.

Dates at IAS

School of Historical Studies
School of Historical Studies


Harvard University
Harvard University
University of Michigan


Appointments: American Historical Association, Past President; Medieval Academy of America, Past President
Awards: Federal Republic of Germany, Grand Merit Cross with Star 2013, Order of Merit 2012; Haskins Medal 2011; Gründler Prize 2009; Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion 2007 and 1992; American Society of Church History, Distinguished Career Award 2005; Harvard University, Centennial Medal of the Harvard Graduate School 2001; Barzun Prize 1996; Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize 1995; Trilling Prize 1992; Philip Schaff Prize 1989; MacArthur Fellowship 1986–91; Berkshire Prize 1985
Honorary Degrees: Hebrew University 2015; University of Glasgow 2011; Columbia University 2009; University of Michigan 2007; University of Pennsylvania 2007; Harvard University 2005; Emory University 2004; Berkeley Divinity School, Yale University 2001; University of Toronto 1999; Wesleyan University 1998; Southern Methodist University 1997; Colgate University 1996; General Theological Seminary, New York 1996; Northwestern University 1996; University of Chicago 1992
Memberships: American Academy of Arts and Sciences; American Historical Association; American Philosophical Society; British Academy; Medieval Academy of America


Columbia University
University Professor 1999–2003, Professor of History 1988–99
University of Washington
Harvard University