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Richard E. Barton

Dr. Richard E. Barton

Link to Dr. Barton's Webpage

Contact Information

Email: rebarton@uncg.edu
Office: MHRA 2115
Office Phone: 336-334-3998


Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997
M.A., University of California, Santa 
Barbara, 1990
B.A., Williams College, 1988

Teaching Experience

Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2004- 
Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1998-2004 
Lecturer, Yale University, 1997-98 
Part-Time Lecturer, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1996-97

Research Interests

My research program investigates the structures and nature of power in the aristocratic society of western France between c.900 and c.1200. For medieval aristocrats, power may have seemed a relatively uncomplicated concept: it was literally the ability to dominate lesser men and women. Yet my work broadens the concepts of power, domination, and lordship to include interpersonal dynamics, gender constraints, emotional display and convention, collectively held beliefs and identities, and affective notions of right. What this means, of course, is that I combine in my conception of medieval aristocratic power two notions: a practical understanding of power as the ability to constrain and a more theoretical understanding of power as the confluence of intangible qualities of affect, honor, and/or "charisma."

My research is focused on Western France - including Maine, Anjou, the Touraine, the Vend-mois, western Brittany, and Southern Normandy - between c.900-1200 (I have also done some work on the early history of Norman England, but this is not a true research specialty). I make use of chronicles, letters, saints' lives, and early chansons de geste, but most of my work involves the analysis of charters (or diplomas, "acta," or "notices"). These brief quasi-legal documents were normally drawn up by the monastic recipient of an aristocratic gift of property as a means of keeping straight the monastery's land-holdings; they exist in the thousands in archives all over the west of France.

Current Projects

  • "Talking, Advising and Judging: the Practice of Justice in the De injusta vexacione Willelmi episcopi primi," article in preparation
  • "Women as Lords in Western France, c.1150-1250," paper being revised for publication
  • "Bishops and their Men in the Diocese of Le Mans," article and longer-term prosopographical project in preparation
  • "Blurring the Boundaries of Epic and History: the Canons of Saint-Pierre-de-la-Cour and the Strange Case of Count David." Article in preparation.
  • "Geoffrey of Mayenne or Geoffrey of Acerra? A Manceau Aristocrat's Adventures in Southern Italy, c.1080-1130" Article in preparation.
  • Emotion and Power: Aristocratic Attitudes towards Anger, Honor and Shame in Western France, c.950-1200. Book manuscript in preparation.

Courses Taught

  • HIS 221: The Medieval Legacy - A survey of events and culture in Europe between 500 and 1500 CE.
  • HIS 309: Unity and Unrest in Medieval Towns - Examines the distinctive culture of medieval towns and the place of urbandevelopments in the broader medieval society.
  • HIS 310: Daughters of Eve, Sisters of Mary: Women in the Middle Ages - Examines the experiences of women in medieval Europe (500-1500), with specialfocus on gender analysis and close reading of texts by and about women.
  • HIS 312: The Crusades - Examines the events of the crusades between 1050 and 1300 as well as the juxtaposition of Christian and Muslim cultures in the Middle East and elsewhere.
  • HIS 373: England to 1660. Survey of political, religious and social developments of Medieval, Tudor and early Stuart England.
  • HIS 391: Historical Skills and Methods - Focuses on developing methods of analyzing primary and secondary sources, assembling bibliographies, and preparing a prospectus for a research project. Topic through which these skills are developed vary, but may include the Twelfth Century Renaissance or the Reign of King Stephen.
  • HIS 393: Medieval Church and State - Studies the theory and practice of politics in the Middle Ages (500-1500), withspecial emphasis on the significance of the struggles between the institutional church and European monarchs.
  • HIS 511B: Seminar in Historical Research and Writing: the Impact of the Norman Conquest of England - A seminar designed to produce a major research paper on the topic under study.Currently my topic is the impact of the Norman Conquest on England (1066-1215).
  • HIS 542: Medieval History: Selected Topics. Extensive reading in the scholarly literature and primary sources for a specific period or topic from the Middle Ages. Possible topics include the World of Gregory of Tours or Violence in the Middle Ages.
  • HIS 705: Colloquium in European History to 1789 - Introductory graduate course designed to introduce students to major themes andmethods practiced by historians who study Europe before 1789.
  • HIS 709: Introductory Research Seminar: the Impact of the Norman Conquest of England - A graduate-level research course, in which students produce a major paper on the topic under study. Currently the topic is the impact of the Norman Conquest of England (1066-1215).
  • HIS 740: Topics in European History. I vary the topic of this course when I teach it. Recent topics have included: "Emotion and Power in the Middle Ages" (2007), and "Interpreting the Crusades" (2008).
  • Honors 101: Emotions in the Middle Ages. Introduction to the study of primary sources from the medieval period through the close reading of a selection of narrative sources, all with an eye towards examining medieval assumptions about, and representations of, emotion.
  • WCV 101: Western Civilization to 1550 - A survey of Western Civilization from the ancient world (Mesopotamia, theGreeks, the Romans) to the rise of Europe in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period.

Courses in Preparation

  • Violence in the Middle Ages - will be taught as an incarnation of either HIS 542 or HIS 709. Attempts to understand medieval attitudes towards violence, including motivations for acting violently and methods for restraining violence.

Recent Publications

  • "Emotions and Power in Orderic Vitalis," Anglo-Norman Studies 33 (2011): 41-59
  • "Making a Clamor to the Lord: Noise, Justice and Power in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century France," inFeud, Violence and Practice: Essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White, ed. B. Tuten and T. Billado. (Ashgate, 2010), 213-238.
  • "Between the King and the Dominus: the Seneschals of Plantagenet Maine and Anjou," Les seigneuries dans l'espace Plantagenêt (c. 1150-c. 1250), Actes du colloque organisé à Bordeaux et Saint-Emilion les 3, 4 et 5 mai 2007, ed. M. Aurell and F. Boutoulle (Bordeaux, 2009), 139-162.
  • "Gendering Anger: Ira, Furor and Discourses of Power and Masculinity in the 11th and 12th Centuries," in In the Garden of Evil: the Vices in the Middle Ages, ed. Richard Newhauser (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 371-392.
  • Lordship in the County of Maine, c.890-1160 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004).
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