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Elizabeth Casteen

Associate Professor, Medieval Europe, Gender, Cultural/Religious History
PhD, Northwestern University 
Office: LT 702
Phone: (607) 777-4414

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies 

My research focuses on gender, culture, and religion in high- and late-medieval Europe. I am particularly interested in medieval cultural constructions of gender, an interest that has led me to research and teach topics as seemingly disparate as medieval medicine, prophecy, and law. I teach courses that look broadly at European culture during the Middle Ages, with a particular emphasis on gender and religion.

My first book, From She-Wolf to Martyr: The Reign and Disputed Reputation of Johanna I of Naples (Cornell University Press, 2015), examines the strategies Johanna I of Naples (r. 1343 – 1382)—easily one of the most (in)famous women in Europe during her reign—used to define herself as a woman and ruler, contrasting the reputation she crafted for herself with competing reputations shaped for her by others in media like letters, chronicles, poetry, and prophetic literature. I analyze Johanna's reputation to reveal how medieval commentators understood both femininity and monarchy and how those understandings worked together to construct gendered reputations for Johanna that were strikingly diverse and frequently in direct contradiction to one another. The concept of sovereignty was unstable during the later medieval period, and Johanna's complex public persona and problematic reputation as one of Europe's first truly sovereign queens serves as an ideal lens through which to investigate shifting, fluid, often contradictory attitudes regarding gender, sexuality, queenship, and sovereignty in the later Middle Ages. My new project, which probes the cultural and legal contours of raptus (which encompassed rape, abduction, theft, seizure, and rapture) in the high and late Middle Ages, takes up many of the same themes, but also looks at the development of medieval law, a growing interest of mine.


  • Early Medieval Europe, 300 – 1000
  • Later Medieval Europe, 1000 – 1400
  • Sex and Society in Europe, 1100 – 1400
  • The Crusades
  • Women, Gender, and Spirituality in Medieval Europe
  • Perspectives on the Body in Medieval Europe
  • The Problem of Evil in Medieval Europe
  • Women and Fame in Medieval Europe


  • Medieval Heresy and Religious Dissent
  • Gender and Authority in Medieval Europe
  • Colloquium in Medieval History
  • Sex and Gender in Premodern Europe


  • From She-Wolf to Martyr: The Reign and Disputed Reputation of Johanna I of Naples (Cornell University Press, 2015)
  • "Gilding the Lily: John of Rupescissa's Prophetic System and the Decline of the Angevins of Naples." Mediaevalia 36, special issue, "Medieval Futures", guest editor, Marilynn Desmond (2016 forthcoming)
  • "On She-Wolves and Famous Women: Boccaccio, Politics, and the Neapolitan Court," in Olivia Holmes and Dana Stewart, eds., Reconsidering Boccaccio: Medieval Contexts and Global Intertexts (University of Toronto Press, forthcoming)
  • "Sex and Politics in Naples: The Regnant Queenship of Johanna I of Naples, 1343 – 1382." Journal of the Historical Society XI (June 2011): 183 – 210.
  • "John of Rupescissa's Letter Reverendissime pater (1350) in the Aftermath of the Black Death." Franciscana VI (2004): 139 – 184.


  • Chair and Organizer, “New Perspectives on Medieval Women’s Patronage: Manuscripts, Power, and Materiality,” The Premodern Book in a Global Context: Materiality and Visuality, Binghamton, New York (October 2016, upcoming)
  • “Making Sense out of Chaos: Johanna I of Naples and the Cultural Imaginary of the Western Schism,” invited lecture, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey (April 2016)
  • "The Political Uses of Friendship: Gender, Self-Presentation, and Reputation in the Fourteenth Century," invited lecture, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS), Binghamton, New York (November 2013)
  • "On She-Wolves and Famous Women: Boccaccio, Politics, and the Neapolitan Court," Boccaccio at 700: Medieval Contexts and Global Intertexts, Binghamton, New York (April 2013)
  • "Slandering the Queen: Fama, Infamy, and the Sovereign Legitimacy of Johanna I of Naples," Annual Meeting, Medieval Academy of America, Knoxville, Tennessee (April 2013)
  • "An 'Especially Good Friend' to Saints: The Reputational Redemption of Johanna I of Naples (c. 1365 – 1378)," Newberry Intellectual History Seminar, Chicago, Illinois (Nov. 2010)
  • "Narrating Chaos: Chronicle Descriptions of Johanna I of Naples' Role in the Great Schism (c. 1378 – 1400)," Cambridge International Chronicles Symposium, Cambridge, United Kingdom (July 2010)
  • "Gilded Lilies: The Angevins of Naples in John of Rupescissa's Prophetic System," The Making of Prophecy: Methods of Rewriting – Rewriting of Methods (international workshop), Prague, Czech Republic (July 2010)
  • "Filia Peramantissima: Filial Piety, Saintly Friendship, and the Apogee of Johanna I of Naples," California Medieval History Seminar, San Marino, California (Feb. 2009)
  • "Johanna I of Naples and Fourteenth-Century Queenship," Sewanee Medieval Colloquium on Power in the Middle Ages, Sewanee, Tennessee (April 2006)
  • Participant, Seminario di Formazione in Storia Religiosa e Studi Francescani (secoli XIII – XV), organized by the Società Internazionale di Studi Francescani (SISF), Centro Interuniversitario di Studi Francescani, Assisi, Italy (July 2005)


  • 2010, Harold Perkin Prize for Best Doctoral Dissertation in History, Northwestern University
  • 2007 – 2008, American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Fellowship
  • 2006 – 2007, Fulbright Fellowship for dissertation research in France

Last Updated: 12/13/17