Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Carolyn Twomey

ph.d. candidate


MA, University of York, Medieval Studies
BA, Catholic University of America, Medieval and Byzantine Studies and English

Research Interests:

I am a religious historian of the medieval West researching the history of baptism in early medieval Britain between the late Roman and Norman periods. My interdisciplinary MA research at the University of York, UK, and experience working in museums on both sides of the Atlantic has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the power of material objects in the everyday lives of historical men and women. My research focuses on the power of ritual words, objects, and places to connect the sacred and secular in the Middle Ages; specifically, how the diverse practices of the early medieval sacrament of baptism both united and separated recipients from their earthly and heavenly communities. My interdisciplinary dissertation on baptism seeks to combine studies of religion, ritual studies, art history, and archaeology to reach a new understanding of the Christianization of Britain and the slow Christian conversion of the early medieval world. I also have interests in eastern medieval & early modern religious conversion and cultural interaction, liturgical history, sacred architecture, medieval digital humanities, local history, medieval art collecting in America, and the modern afterlives of the Middle Ages.


  • “Kings as Catechumens: Royal Conversion Narratives and Easter in Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica.” The Haskins Society Journal 25 (forthcoming 2014; Bethell Prize recipient)
  • “From Nave to Chancel: The Metamorphic Implications of Anglo-Saxon Altar Placement.” Quaestio insularis: Selected Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic 9 (2008)

Awards & Fellowships

  • Institute for Historical Research Mellon Dissertation Fellowship 2014/15
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities – Summer Seminar Participant, June-July 2014  Arts, Architecture, and Devotional Interaction in England, 1200-1600 – York, UK
  • The Huntington Library Short-Term Travel Grant for Study in Great Britain
  • Medieval Academy of America 2014 John Leyerle-CARA Prize
  • Dumbarton Oaks Short-Term Pre-Doctoral Residency – Feb 2014
  • The Charles Homer Haskins Society 2012 Denis Bethell Prize Winner 

Conference Presentations:

  • “Basins and Baptisms: The Material Culture of Water in Early Medieval Britain” Leeds International Medieval Congress, 7–10 July 2014, University of Leeds, UK.
  • “The Conversion of Edwin: Bede’s Concern for Easter in the Historia ecclesiastica.” American Catholic Historical Association Annual Spring Conference, April 2013 – Stonehill College, North Easton, MA.
  • “Kings as Catechumens: Royal Conversion Narratives and Easter in the Historia ecclesiastica.” Charles Homer Haskins Society Conference, November 2012 – Boston College, Boston, MA
  • “Bede and the Devil: Baptismal Exorcism in Anglo-Saxon England.” The 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 2010 – The Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  • “Baptismal Instruction in the Age of Bede.” Approaching Theology and Religion Colloquium, October 2008 – Department of Theology, University of Birmingham, UK