Joshua C. Birk

Associate Professor of History

Joshua Birk

Contact & Office Hours

Fall 2017
Monday, 3–3:50 p.m.
Wednesday, 10–10:50 a.m.
And by appointment.

Wright Hall 208



Ph.D., M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara.

B.A., Brown University


Joshua Birk specializes in political history and identity politics across religious boundaries in the medieval Mediterranean world.

Birk 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 11th and 12th centuries.  He has also published on southern Italian understandings of crusade. 

Birk offers a range of courses on various topics in the medieval world including three sequential surveys covering the medieval European world from 400 to 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 titled Reacting to the Past.

Selected Publications

“Borderlands and Borderlines: Narrating the Past in Twelfth-Century Sicily,” in Multicultural Europe and Cultural Exchange in the MIddle Ages and Renaissance, edited by James P. Helfers. Brepols Publishers: 2005.

Translations of portions of Ibn Jubayr's travels to Sicily, in Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation, edited by Katherine L Jansen, et. al. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. 

“The Betrayal of Antioch: Narratives of Conversion and Conquest During the First Crusade,” in Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2011, Volume 41, no. 3: 463–485.

“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, Oxford University Press, 2012.