The scholarly discussion list medieval-religion started within a year of the founding of the University of Bristol's Centre for Medieval Studies in 1994. Staff and students of the Centre noted that often, over coffee or lunch, they would ask each other questions about their research, and that usually, given the breadth of expertise in the Centre, somebody among the group would be able to provide a useful answer to the topic of discussion.
But sometimes, there were queries that none of us could answer. We wondered about ways in which we could reach, immediately, a larger number of friendly scholars with our head-scratchers.
We also noted that our primary interest, as medievalists, had to do with culture rather than, say, coins (not that there's anything wrong with coins!). We also believed that the common thread in medieval culture, through different time periods and areas, was the fundamental and deeply rooted role of religion in thought and in daily life.
With this in mind, we created an academic mailing list, medieval-religion, dedicated to scholarly discussions of all aspects of medieval religion and culture. Founded by George Ferzoco, Carolyn Muessig and Ian Wei on 2 June 1995, the first person who joined was a Norwegian.
Since then, the list has grown to become the most frequented and frequently used mailing list in the area of medieval studies. As of August 2014, the list has 825 members from over 30 countries.
Over the years, the list has been used to initiate discussions on a broad range of topics. Its members are encouraged to share their expertise, and the information provided through medieval-religion has been cited in dissertations, articles and books. Moreover, it served to inspire the creation of numerous international conference sessions (Kalamazoo) and at least one book that is frequently used in classrooms and read by medievalists and non-medievalists alike: Misconceptions About the Middle Ages. Not only was the book born of the medieval-religion list, but it appears in a series that was inspired directly by it: Routledge Studies in Medieval Religion and Culture, that welcomes interdisciplinary proposals on topics dealing not only with the medieval period (understood in the longue durée) but also with modern and contemporary medievalism.
We invite university teachers and students to join the list's activities.