Skip to main content

Dr. Kathryn Jasper

Associate Professor
Schroeder Hall - SCH 314
Office Hours
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, and by appointment
  • About
  • Education
  • Awards & Honors
  • Research


Dr. Kathryn Jasper earned her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley in History and Medieval Studies in 2012. She is Associate Professor of History and Director of European Studies at Illinois State University:

Dr. Jasper supervises the Latin minor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. If you are interested in the Classical Studies Minor, please visit:

Dr. Jasper is also co-director of a summer archaeological field school in Gradoli (Bolsena), Italy.

If you would like to know more about Paleography Illuminated, an online hub for transcriptions of ISU's manuscript collection, please visit our site:

If you would like to know more about Traveler's Lab at ISU, a collaboration among universities bringing together students and professional scholars to study medieval history using digital methods, please visit:

Current Courses

499.003Independent Research For The Master's Thesis

287.003Independent Study

490.002Readings -- Field Of Study

300.006Senior Seminar In History

222.001The Middle Ages: 395-1100

101.006Western Civilization To 1500

481.099Advanced Archaeological Field School

381.099Archaeological Field School

308.099Selected Topics In European History

Teaching Interests & Areas

My courses examine the major social and political transformations of the Roman and medieval Mediterranean Basin, from Western and Central Europe, to North Africa, Byzantium, and the Middle East. I ask that my students engage multiple sources beyond documents, such as monuments, art, and architecture. Some of my courses include an undergraduate seminar on the city of Rome, a graduate seminar on the historiography of the central Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance (usually taught as part of the ISU Orvieto study abroad program), and a two-part class on the Middle Ages from 200-1100, and 1100-1500, respectively. I teach Latin 115, the Introduction to Paleography course, and Advanced Latin Paleography in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

Research Interests & Areas

My current research project is an archaeological excavation of a Roman imperial period, monumental fountain located 300 meters from the western coast of Lake Bolsena in central Italy. Its high quality of construction and materials and its remote rural location suggests the fountain was part of a larger complex, likely a Roman villa. Answering questions about the identity and motivations of the fountain’s patron hinges on uncovering how its construction related to the agrarian economy, to routes of export and import, and consumption of goods in the region. My approach blends analysis of historical documents with modern datasets of the physical environment, when relevant, to generate hypothetical ancient and medieval landscapes and practices in GIS databases for analysis.

My first book entitled Bounded Wilderness: Land and Reform at the Hermitage of Fonte Avellana, ca. 1035-1072 (Cornell University Press, 2024) studies economic practices, religious traditions, and the natural environment in tandem to shed light on another side of religious reform. Eleventh-century reform was never solely confined to the rarefied realm of the intellect. Religious reform left its mark on the land and the landscape in Italy. It circulated much more widely and demanded thought about matters as ostensibly mundane as property boundaries and rights to water, orchards, pastures, and mills. In a word, the a book about land. Land is an excellent lens for telling the story of reform because it relates to two fundamental reform principles: independence from lay control and the sacred nature of ecclesiastical property. In a land-based economy, the value of land seems self-explanatory, but in the Middle Ages its meaning was multivalent. For many religious, land was at once the site of ascetic experience and the means of supporting their way of life. Land, therefore, became a fulcrum of reform.

Ph D History

University of California, Berkeley

MA History

University of Arizona

BA Anthropology

University of Arizona

Influential and Inspirational Faculty Award

Department of History

Influential and Inspirational Faculty Award

Department of History

Influential and Inspirational Faculty Award

Department of History

Outstanding CAS Teacher Award

College of Arts and Sciences

Influential and Inspirational Faculty Award

Department of History

Teaching Innovations Grant


Franklin Research Grant

American Philosophical Association

Influential and Inspirational Faculty Award

Department of History

Influential and Inspirational Faculty Award

Department of History

Impact Award

Illinois State University

Book, Chapter

Coauthor with John Howe. “Hermitism in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries.” Cambridge History of Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West. Edited by Alison I. Beach and Isabelle Cochelin. Cambridge New History Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
Jasper, K. "Peter Damian and the Language Friendship: The Polysemy of Caritas". William S. Short, Charles McNamara, Michael Fontaine (EDs), Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in the Latin Language. Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, Inc. (2018)
Jasper, K. “Reforming the Monastic Landscape: Peter Damian’s Design for Personal and Communal Devotion.” In Rural Space in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: The Spatial Turn in Pre-modern Studies. Edited by Albrecht Classen. Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture 9. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012.

Journal Article

Erin Mikulec, Kathryn Jasper, and Lea Cline. “ ‘I can navigate the world’: Student Reflections of Study Abroad - Evidence from One University Campus.” The Journal for Research and Practice in College Teaching 4:1 (2019): 84-109.
Jasper, K. “Peter Damian and the Communication of Reform.” The Catholic Historical Review 104:2 (2018): 197-222.
“The Economics of Reform.” History Compass 10/6 (2012): 440-454.
Coauthor with Maureen C. Miller. “The Foundation of the Convent of San Pier Maggiore in Florence.” Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia 64 (2010, n. 2): 381-396.


“The Cell is a Workshop: The Labor of Hermitism,”. Midwest Consortium on Ancient Religions. The Ohio State University. (2023)
“Women in the Wilderness: Female Hermits in the Age of Reform.”. Wesleyan Renaissance Seminar. Wesleyan University. (2023)
Kathryn Jasper, “Planting Whole Rows: Solutions for Incomplete Agricultural Data,” 30th International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, July 3, 2023.
Riprese delle indagini nel sito di Valle Gianni (Gradoli). Cosa C'e Sotto? Scoperte archeologiche intorno al Lago. Museo Territoriale del Lago di Bolsena. (2022)
The Communication of Monastic Trauma and Monastic Friendship. Medieval Selves and Communities: Identities, Discourses, and Connections. Illinois Medieval Association. (2022)
Women at the Door of Fonte Avellana: Female Religious on the Borders of Male Spiritual Space. International Medieval Congress. University of Leeds, UK. (2022)
Jasper, K. “Coming Together to Live Alone: Solitude and Sociability in Medieval Hermit Communities.” (Invited talk.) Great Lakes History Conference, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 22-23, 2021.
Jasper, K. “Putting the ‘Wild’ in Wilderness: What’s Climate Got to Do with It?” 28th International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, July 5-9, 2021.
Jasper, K. “Mapping the Miraculous: Saints and Travel in the Age of Reform.” 134th Meeting of the American Historical Association, New York, January 3, 2020.
Jasper, K. “The Pragmatics of Monastic Space: Northern Italian Hermitages, Land, and Donor Networks in the Age of Reform.” 26th International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, July 3-6, 2019.

Grants & Contracts

Advancing Research and Creative Scholarship (ARCS). Illinois State University Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Illinois State University. (2023)
CAS URG. CAS. Illinois State University. (2023)
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. National Endowment for the Humanities. Federal. (2023)
Northwest Bolsena Archaeological Project. Illinois State University. Illinois State University. (2023)
CAS URG. CAS. Illinois State University. (2022)