Introducing the Head of Global Medieval Religious Studies: Dr. Keagan Brewer

As part of our commitment to bringing you the latest social-scientific research on religion, GCRR is proud to introduce the Head of our "Medieval Religious Studies" division, Dr. Keagan Brewer.

Dr. Brewer completed his PhD at The University of Sydney where he specializes in twelfth- and thirteenth-century encounters—both intellectual and actual—between Europe and Asia, including the Latin East, legends, the associated mentalities of wonder and doubt, and their intersection with Christian belief. Keagan enjoys textual editing and translation, and has published in the Crusade Texts in Translation series. In mid-June 2018, Brewer was appointed Honorary Research Associate in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at The University of Sydney. He has lectured at the Australian Catholic University and The University of Sydney, and was appointed in March 2019 as deputy node leader of the CHE node The University of Sydney.

His Recent Publications

We highly recommend checking out some of Dr. Brewer's latest publications:

The Libellus de expugnatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum (or Little Book about the Conquest of the Holy Land by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn) is the most substantial contemporary Latin account of the conquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. Seemingly written by a churchman who was in Jerusalem itself when the city was besieged and captured, the Libellus fuses historical narrative and biblical exegesis in an attempt to recount and interpret the loss of the Holy Land, an event that provoked an outpouring of grief throughout western Christendom and sparked the Third Crusade. This book provides an English translation of the Libellus accompanied by a new, comprehensive critical edition of the Latin text and a detailed study in the introduction.

Wonder and Skepticism in the Middle Ages explores the response by medieval society to tales of marvels and the supernatural, which ranged from firm belief to outright rejection, and asks why the believers believed, and why the skeptical disbelieved. Despite living in a world whose structures more often than not supported belief, there were still a great many who disbelieved, most notably scholastic philosophers who began a polemical programme against belief in marvels.

The legend of Prester John has received much scholarly attention over the last hundred years, but never before have the sources been collected and coherently presented to readers. This book now brings together a fully-representative set of texts setting out the many and various sources from which we get our knowledge of the legend. These texts, spanning a time period from the Crusades to the Enlightenment, are presented in their original languages and in English translation (for many it is the first time they have been available in English). The story of the mysterious oriental leader Prester John, ruler of a land teeming with marvels who may come to the aid of Christians in the Levant, held an intense grip on the medieval mind from the first references in twelfth-century Crusader literature and into the early-modern period. But Prester John was a man of shifting identity, being at different times and for different reasons associated with Chingis Khan and the Mongols, with the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia, with China, Tibet, South Africa and West Africa. In order to orient the reader, each of these iterations is explained in the comprehensive introduction, and in the introductions to texts and sections. The introduction also raises a thorny question not often considered: whether or not medieval audiences believed in the reality of Prester John and the Prester John Letter. The book is completed with three valuable appendices: a list of all known references to Prester John in medieval and early modern sources, a thorough description of the manuscript traditions of the all-important Prester John Letter, and a brief description of Prester John in the history of cartography.

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