Kenneth Baxter Wolf

John Sutton Miner Professor of History and Professor of Classics
With Pomona Since: 1985
  • Expertise

    Expertise

    Trained at Stanford University as a Medieval European historian, Kenneth Baxter Wolf is jointly appointed to the Classics department. He is the originator and coordinator of the Late Antique-Medieval Studies (LAMS) Program, founded in 2012.

    Wolf is a historian of mentalité who mines medieval Latin texts in an effort to reconstruct the mind-sets and world-views of their authors and imagined audiences. Because this approach relies on such a close reading of texts, it is no surprise that Wolf evolved into a translator, applying his skills to Latin texts ranging from eighth-century chronicles to 13th-century canonization records. He regularly offers a half-credit Medieval Latin translation tutorial for students who have at least one year of Classical Latin under their belts.

    Wolf began his scholarly work as a historian of early medieval Spain, with particular interests in the cultural construction of sanctity and early Christian views of Islam. Over the years the geographical scope of these two interests has expanded to encompass the Mediterranean basin as a whole. His signature course is "Medieval Mediterranean," a lecture-based class that simultaneously treats the history of the Latin, Greek and Arabic components of the post-Roman world. He regularly offers two other surveys ("Saints and Society" and "Medieval Europe and the World Outside") as well as four seminars ("Monks of War," "Heresy and Church," "Earliest Christian Views of Islam," and "Medieval Spain"). These courses are not only essential for students specializing in the Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean subfield of the history major but they also serve the needs of students majoring in LAMS.

    An active researcher, writer and translator, Wolf recently finished a translation and study of the writings of Eulogius of Córdoba, the main source for the so-called “Córdoban martyrs’ movement” of the 850s (Liverpool University Press, 2019). He is particularly intrigued by what these sources reveal about how Christians living under Muslim rule came to terms with the political subordination of Christianity without losing their religious identity in the process. He is currently at work on a companion volume featuring a translation of another Latin text from Córdoba, the first to argue that Muhammad fit biblical descriptions of the Antichrist.  In his spare time, Wolf is slowly reconstructing the experiences of his 19th-century German and English immigrant ancestors.

    Research Interests

    • Medieval Europe
    • The Medieval Mediterranean 
    • Medieval Spain
    • Medieval church
    • Christian saints and the idea of sanctity
    • Christian sanctity and poverty
    • Holy violence in the Christian tradition
    • Christians living under Muslim rule
    • Genealogy

    Areas of Expertise

    HISTORY

    • Medieval Mediterranean
    • Medieval Spain
    • Early Christian Views of Islam
    • Saints and the Idea of Sanctity
  • Work

    Work

    The Eulogius Corpus (Liverpool University Press, 2019)

    The Life and Afterlife of St. Elizabeth of Hungary: Testimony from her Canonization Hearings (Oxford University Press, 2011)

    The Deeds of Count Roger and of His Brother Duke Robert Guiscard (University of Michigan Press, 2005)

    The Poverty of Riches: St. Francis of Assisi Reconsidered (Oxford University Press, 2003)

    The Normans and their Historians in Eleventh-Century Italy (University of Pennsylvania, 1995)

    Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain (Liverpool University Press, 1990; 1999)

    Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain (Cambridge University Press, 1988; Japanese trans, 1999)

  • Education

    Education

    Ph.D.
    Stanford University

    Master of Arts
    Stanford University

    Bachelor of Arts
    Stanford University

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Earliest Christian Views of Islam
    • Heresy and Church
    • Holy War in Early Christianity and Islam
    • Medieval Spain and the Idea of Convivencia
    • Saints and Society
    • The Medieval Mediterranean
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2004, & 2013

    National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2004-2005: "Poverty Saints" project.

    Princeton, Institute for Advanced Study, Member, 1989-1991