Paul Edward Dutton, FRSC, FMAA
Graduate Chair; Professor
Fellow, Royal Society of Canada; Fellow, Medieval Academy of America; Jack and Nancy Farley University Professor in History (2005-2015)
B.A. (Hons.) UWO, MA PhD Toronto, MSL MSD Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
In 1974 as a green and faltering undergraduate at the University of Western Ontario, I first became smitten by the early Middle Ages. That summer I had chanced upon a small, but exquisite exhibition of early medieval ivory carvings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in quite another London. One can still remember, as though it were yesterday, the darkened room, the pale white light cast, seemingly by the ivories themselves, and the sinuous figures impressed with symbols that stepped forth from the bones. What struck me then and fascinates me still was the crystallization of image and idea in wordless objects suggesting other worlds of ideas, people, and materialities that belonged to some misty long ago far removed from the modern world of barking klaxons and impatient taxi cabs rushing along Cromwell Road outside. My chief guide into this early medieval world was the towering Irish thinker, Eriugena, who was little known at the time. Decades later, I still cleave to the same insistent drum and remain haunted by many of the same questions, for the study of the deep, wide, and often surprising Middle Ages can be intoxicating. One just never knows what new thing, what new understanding, what new insight will slowly or suddenly force itself upon the mind of the alert observer. Together with my students, both undergraduate and graduate, I like to seize upon some unusual or remarkable thing (a puzzling phrase or fact, a curious image, a telling incident) and to employ it as a key to open up a document and so the world from which it came. Behind such strange things swirl constellations of people and events worth knowing for what they tell us about their world, and ours. My publications, I trust, tell the same story. My most recent article, “The Desert War of a Carolingian Monk” manifests the method and will, I hope, one day appear in a collection of such studies tentatively called Minima Mediaevalia: The Least Little Medieval Things.
Areas of Teaching: Western Civilization, History of the Book, Medieval Studies, Carolingian Civilization, the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, Microhistory and Micro-Medieval Studies, the Strange and Wonderful World of Pieter Bruegel
Publications: The Glosae super Platonem of Bernard of Chartres (1991); The Politics of Dreaming in the Carolingian Empire (1994); The Autograph of Eriugena (1996) with Edouard Jeauneau; The Poetry and Paintings of the First Bible of Charles the Bald (1997) with Herbert L. Kessler; Charlemagne’s Courtier: The Complete Einhard (1998); Charlemagne’s Mustache (2004); and Many Europes: Choice and Chance in Western Civilization (2013) with Suzanne Marchand.
“The Desert War of a Carolingian Monk,” The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 47.1 (2017) Special Issue: Microhistory and the Historical Imagination: New Frontiers, ed. Thomas Robisheaux and Thomas V. Cohen with István M. Szijártó, pp. 75-120.
“The Identification of Persons in Frankish Europe,” Early Medieval Europe 26 (2018), forthcoming.
Series Editor: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures (University of Toronto Press, 1993-), 19 volumes; Companions to Medieval Studies (University of Toronto Press, 2013-), 2 volumes; Rethinking the Middle Ages (University of Toronto Press, 2004-), 3 volumes.