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Memorial for Klemens von Klemperer

Joshua C. Birk
Assistant Professor

email Send E-mail office Office: Wright Hall 208 phone Phone: 585-3740
Office Hours: Monday 10:00-11:00 a.m.; Wednesday 1:00-2:00 p.m.; and by appointment

Joshua Birk specializes in political history and identity politics across religious boundaries in the Medieval Mediterranean World. He received his B.A. in Medieval Studies from Brown University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has taught at the University of Southern California (Lecturer) and Eastern Illinois University (Assistant Professor). He is currently an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Smith College.

He is working on a book manuscript, Baptized Sultans: The Norman Rulers of Sicily and the Birth of the Anti-Islamic Critique, which examines the way in which the Christian rulers of Sicily co-opted and redeployed Islamic cultural tropes and administrative techniques to project their authority over the Island of Sicily in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. His chapter “Borderlands and Borderlines: Narrating the Past in Twelfth Century Sicily” appeared in Multicultural Europe and Cultural Exchange in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, edited by James P. Helfers. Brepols, 2005 and his translations of portions of Ibn Jubayr’s travels to Sicily appear in Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation, from University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. He has also published on Southern Italian understandings of crusade in:  “The Betrayal of Antioch: Narratives of Conversion and Conquest during the First Crusade” in the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2011, Volume 41, Number 3: 463-485 and “Imagining the Enemy: Southern Italian Perception of Muslims in the Wake of the First Crusade” in Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, Muslim Encounters and Exchanges, from Oxford University Press, 2012.

Professor Birk offers a range of courses on various topics in the medieval world including three sequential surveys covering the Medieval European world from 400-1650, a colloquia on Magic in the Middle Ages, the ideas of Crusade and Jihad, religious and social minorities within medieval Europe, a seminar on Violence and Memory in the High Middle Ages, and a First Year Seminar ‘Reacting to the Past’.