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headshot of Elizabeth I. Casteen

Elizabeth I. Casteen

Associate Professor of History; Director of CEMERS

History; Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies


Elizabeth Casteen’s research focuses on the history of gender and sexuality in the high and late Middle Ages. Her first book, From She-Wolf to Martyr: The Reign and Disputed Reputation of Johanna I of Naples (Cornell University Press, 2015), examines an infamous, controversial woman who became Europe's first truly sovereign queen in the middle of the fourteenth century, using her constantly evolving reputation as a lens through which to assess later medieval conceptions of gender, sexuality, queenship, and sovereignty. Casteen's current research centers on the problem of raptus, a Latin term that could denote rape, but also—and sometimes simultaneously—theft, abduction, seizure, or mystical rapture. In medieval Western Europe, the ecstatic female saint was the object of raptus, but so were enslaved Muslim women (who were often and explicitly subject to sexual coercion) and elite women who were abducted and forced into marriage by fortune hunters. Casteen's new book project examines raptus in its divergent but overlapping senses and interrogates the ambivalence and ambiguity that continue to characterize discussions of sexual violence. At the graduate level, she teaches seminars that focus on gender, spirituality and medieval historiography. Her undergraduate courses focus particularly on the period between 1000 and 1500 and cover such topics as the Crusades; women, gender, and sexuality in medieval Europe; and introductory surveys of both Western Civilizations and medieval European history.


  • PhD, MA, Northwestern University
  • BA, Dartmouth College

Research Interests

  • Medieval and Early Modern European history
  • History of gender and sexuality
  • History of religion and spirituality

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae