Professor of History and Religion


Medieval and early modern European religious history

Deeana Copeland Klepper, Professor in the Departments of History and Religion, holds a PhD in Medieval European History from Northwestern University. Professor Klepper teaches courses on Christianity, Judaism, and medieval and early modern European religious history. Her research focuses on medieval religious identities, cultures, and interreligious encounters. Her first book The Insight of Unbelievers: Nicholas of Lyra and Christian Reading of Jewish Texts in the Later Middle Ages (University of Pennsylvania Press) explores the complicated and contradictory attitudes toward Jewish tradition held by Christian scholars and shows how the Franciscan Bible commentator Nicholas of Lyra came to serve as an important mediator of Hebrew and Jewish tradition for Christian Europeans. Her second book, Pastoral Care and Community in Late Medieval Germany: Albert of Diessen’s “Mirror of Priests” (Cornell University Press) brings to light a Latin manual for German parish priests written (and revised) between 1370-77 and uses it to provide fresh perspectives on medieval religious culture. Through the lens of Albert of Diessen’s life and work, Klepper shows how “universal” religious ideals and laws were adapted, reinterpreted, and repurposed by those given responsibility to implement them, thereby crafting distinctive, local expressions of Christianity. She is currently at work on two projects that follow from the research of her second book. One explores the range of advice concerning interactions with Jews and Muslims offered in locally oriented manuals for parish priests, comparing works from Germany, England, Spain, and Italy. The other explores the category of demonic obsession as an explanation for mental illness in medieval Europe, focusing especially on pastoral and medical literature, attending carefully to terminology and its impact on individuals and communities. In 2024, she was elected to the Society of Fellows of the Medieval Academy of America, an honor that recognizes major long-term scholarly achievement within the interdisciplinary field of Medieval Studies.

Curriculum Vitae