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David AersDavid Aers  
James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of English and Professor of Historical Theology and Professor of Religion

Office Location: 402 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone: (919) 684-2741
Email Address: aers@duke.edu

Teaching (Fall, 2021):

  • English 338s.01, Milton Synopsis
    Allen 317, TuTh 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
  • Xtianthe 890.01, Theological topics Synopsis
    Allen 317, Th 12:00 PM-02:30 PM
  • English 890s.01, Special topics seminar Synopsis
    Allen 317, Th 12:00 PM-02:30 PM

Office Hours:

Fall 2021 Office Hours:

Tuesdays 11:45-1:30 PM and by appointment


Ph.D., University of York (United Kingdom)

Doctor of Philosophy, University of York

BA (included MA), Cambridge University

B.A., University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)

Medieval Literature
Renaissance/Early Modern Literature
David Aers works especially on medieval and early modern literature, theology, ecclesiology and politics in England. His publications range from studies of Augustine to studies of early 19th century writing and culture. Publications include: Piers Plowman and Christian Allegory (Arnold 1975); Chaucer, Langland and the Creative Imagination (Routledge, 1980); Literature, Language and Society in England, 1580-1680, written with Bob Hodge and Gunther Kress (Barnes and Noble, 1980); Chaucer (Harvester, 1983); Community, Gender and Individual Identity, 1360-1430 (Routledge, 1988); Powers of the Holy, written with Lynn Staley (Penn State, 1996); a two edited volumes: Medieval Literature: Criticism, Ideology, History (Harvester, 1986) and Culture and History, 1350-1600 (Wayne State, 1992). In 2000 he published Faith, Ethics, and Church: Writing in England 1360-1410 (Brewer) and also a collection of essays entitled Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry: Essays in Honor of Derek Pearsall (Brewer). In 2004 he published Sanctifying Signs: Making Christian Tradition in Late Medieval England (Notre Dame). In 2009 he published a work that moved from Augustine to Langland and Julian of Norwich: Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland and Fourteenth-Century Theology (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009) . He has just (2015) published a book for the University of Notre Dame Press entitled: Beyond Reformation? An Essay on William Langland's Piers Plowman and the End of Constantinian Christianity. This work continues to develop his interests in Christian traditions, theology and political culture while also engaging with some issues raised by current grand narratives of modernity. Centered on Langland's Piers Plowman, a story is told that runs from Ockham to Milton and, very tentatively, Milton's ecclesiology here called "congregationalism." Since completing Beyond Reformation? in 2015, he has continued to work across the great divide between the medieval and the early modern still institutionalized in most English Departments in contemporary Universities. This work includes an essay on philosophy and theology in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and an essay on the Calvinist Arthur Dent (Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, 1601). Current project develops lines of inquiry initiated in the book just completed (Beyond Reformation?) This involves concentrating particularly on conflicts and transformations in the later Middle Ages , with particular attention to Ockham , Marsilius of Padua , Langland , Chaucer and Wyclif . David Aers continues as co-editor of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. He has edited a number of special issues of JMEMS, most recently one with Nigel Smith on the English Reformations:currently he is preparing a special issue, with Russ Leo (Princeton)on Brad Gregory's work exploring the "unintended" Reformation. He is co-editor, with Sarah Beckwith (Duke) and James Simpson (Harvard) of the Notre Dame University Press series entitled REFORMATIONS. He is also currently working with Sarah Beckwith on a special issue of JMEMS on "Conversion: medieval and early modern." David Aers is the James B. Duke Professor of English and Historical Theology with appointments in both the English Department and in the Divinity School.

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Aers, D. "Langland on the church and the end of the cardinal virtues." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 42.1Duke University Press, (December, 2012): 59-81. [Gateway.cgi], [doi]  [abs]
  2. Aers, D. Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth-Century Theology. notre dame university press, April, 2009. 1-284 pp.
  3. Aers, D. Sanctifying Signs: Making Christian Tradition in Late Medieval England. notre dame university press, 2004. 284 pages pp.

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