Carolyn Twomey

Carolyn Twomey


Office: Stokes Hall, Office S366

Dissertation Committee: Robin Fleming(Advisor), Nancy NetzerZachary Matus

Twitter: @Carolyngian



Ph.D. Candidate in History, Boston College
M.A. in Medieval Studies, University of York, UK
B.A. in Medieval and Byzantine Studies and English Language and Literature, minor in Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC


I am a medieval historian of conversion and ritual with an interdisciplinary focus on Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman religious practices, art, and archaeology. I investigate the power of words, things, and places to negotiate the permeable boundaries of the sacred and secular in early medieval Europe. My research interests include interdisciplinary studies of conversion, material culture, and religion in the Middle Ages; the history of acculturation and exchange; digital historical methods; the use of water for sacred and secular purposes in the medieval landscape; and studies of baptism and other rites of passage in medieval and early modern mission contexts.

My dissertation project, Living Water, Living Stone: The History and Material Culture of Baptism in Early Medieval England, c.600–c.1200 examines the formation of Christian identity in Europe through the ritual performances and physical settings of baptism. This study challenges our definition of a united medieval Christendom by radically reinterpreting the long-term practice of baptism as a slow process of Christianization in Europe from below.

I am grateful to have had support for my dissertation research from the Institute of Historical Research through the Mellon Foundation IHR Dissertation Fellowship 2014-15, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, the American Catholic Historical Association, the Medieval Academy of America, the Huntington Library, and Boston College in the form of the Morrissey Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Engelhard-Pingree Fellowship, the History Department Research Fellowship 2013-14, and, most recently, the History Department Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2016-17.


I have taught classes in medieval and early modern history focusing on religious, economic, and cultural exchange between Europe, Asia, and the Americas, as well as the modern history of the Atlantic World as part of the Boston College core courses in History. My experiences in the classroom and through the Apprenticeship in College Teaching training program encouraged me to introduce new technologies into the classroom such as digital humanities and social media projects and to become an advocate for students with mental health issues on campus. My interdisciplinary teaching interests include themes of ritual, gender, conversion, and material culture with an emphasis on the lived religious practices and the everyday lives of both women and men from the late Roman Empire to the Enlightenment.