About The Division

Douglass Building, home of the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies


The Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at The University of Arizona is the center for post-graduate study of the epoch of transition between medieval and early-modern Europe, 1300-1600. Reuniting three fields—late medieval, Reformation, and early modern history—which in the European tradition were long separated along confessional lines, the Division promotes graduate research transcending these demarcations. At the same time, it encompasses social, political, religious, economic, and cultural developments in early modern Europe.

The Division was founded in 1989 under the Directorship of Professor Heiko A. Oberman (†2001), Luther biographer and winner of the 1996 Dr. A. H. Heineken Prize for History, who was formerly appointed at the University of Tübingen and Harvard Divinity School. In less than a decade the Division achieved a reputation among the top institutions in the world for Reformation study.

Since Professor Oberman's death in April 2001, the University of Arizona, according to Oberman's will, has become home to the Heiko A. Oberman Research Library, an extensive collection of medieval and Reformation sources. According to a leading appraiser of scholarly libraries, James R. Tanis (Bryn Mawr College), this is "an extraordinary reference and research collection, centered on the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation."

The current Director of the Division, Oberman's successor, is Professor Susan C. Karant-Nunn, who has an international presence in the field of Reformation history. She has a high level of expertise in aspects of the German Reformation and early modern social history, and was from 1998-2009 North American co-editor of the Archive for Reformation History. She is the winner of the 1998 Roland H. Bainton Book Prize for History and Theology for her Reformation of Ritual: An Interpretation of Early Modern Germany, and has been a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in the Humanities for past achievement and exceptional promise for future research.

Among other distinguished faculty at the University with whom Division students work are Professor Pia F. Cuneo (Reformation and Renaissance art history); Professor David L. Graizbord (Sephardic Jewish history and early modern Jewish history); Professor Kari Boyd McBride (early modern literature and culture, feminist theories, women and the Bible, critical pedagogies, and instructional technologies); and Professor Cynthia White (Augustan poetry, late antique Latin literature, Greek patristics, and medieval Latin.)

Division doctoral students have a high success rate in winning Fulbright and other international fellowships. They have secured a total of 53 externally-funded years of research. Those who choose to proceed to academic careers have a high rate of winning professorial positions.

Integral to the Division's efforts are its teaching and outreach activities to the community: the annual lecture for Town and Gown, the Summer Lecture Series, and the Desert Harvest newsletter. Not only have these functions brought the local community to the campus but they have fueled the unit's fund-raising campaign enabling it to award summer scholarships primarily to promote accelerated and intensive language study for incoming graduate students.

Through selective recruiting and admission, no more than some twelve graduate students are in training simultaneously. This practice allows for extensive individual training, coaching, and tutoring, a special characteristic of this program. The Division's emphasis on mastery of the several languages necessary in this field of study (Latin, German, French) usually extends the time required for earning the Ph.D. beyond the traditional four years during which teaching assistantships are available in the History Department. It is therefore of singular importance that a large circle of Friends of the Division have generously established a fund to support graduate members during the years of preparation, including research in European libraries and archives and completion of the dissertation upon return from Europe. The Ora DeConcini Martin and Morris Martin General Endowment and the Oberman-Reesink Fellowship have been established specifically to support students in their archival research and language study programs.



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