Contact Me

Phone: 612-625-8578

What I do in meetings: hand-knitting. If you are a knitter you can find me on Ravelry as rmk.

College of Liberal Arts

Ruth Mazo Karras

Professor of History, University of Minnesota

My historical interests focus on the history of women, gender, and sexuality in medieval western Europe. I have worked on various regions of northwestern Europe across the whole medieval period. My PhD students also work on a variety of topics, especially in the social and religious history of medieval England and Iceland but on other areas of Europe too: from fatherhood in late medieval Basel to the interaction between monks and the natural world in early medieval Germany, to marriage patterns in late medieval and early modern Florence, to the church and popular religion in fifteenth-century Iceland. At the undergraduate level I teach the first half of Western Civilization, the first half of the British History survey, an interdisciplinary course on “Medieval Stories and their Modern Echoes” and a course on women in medieval Europe. At the graduate level I teach Gender in Medieval Culture, Medieval England, and History of Sexuality.


I am also General Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Press's Middle Ages Series and co-editor of the journal Gender & History.

Current Research

My current research concerns the various ways male friendship was constructed during the Middle Ages, in military and non-military contexts. I am interested in comparing this across Christian and Jewish cultures. Other work in progress includes the Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, which I am co-editing with Judith M. Bennett.

Recent Awards and Honors

Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Fellowship, Fall 2012
American Council of Learned Societies, Fellowship, 2010-11
University of Minnesota, Graduate-Professional Teaching Award, 2010
University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts, Dean’s Medal, 2010
University of Minnesota, Distinguished Women Scholars Award in Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts, 2008
American Philosophical Society, Sabbatical Fellowship, 2004-05
University of Minnesota, Scholar of the College, 2003-06


Unmarriages (2012) Sexuality in Medieval Europe (2012) Law and the Illicit in Medieval Europe (2008)
Slavery and Society in Medieval Scandinavia (1988) Common Women (1996) From Boys to Men (2003)

Sexuality in Medieval Europe (2004)
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Sexualität im Mittelalter

Recent Articles

“The Regulation of Sexuality in the Late Middle Ages: England and France,” Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 86 (2011) 1010-1039.

[Tiffany Vann Sprecher and Ruth Mazo Karras,] “The Midwife and the Church: Ecclesiastical Regulation of Midwives in Brie, 1499-1504,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 85 (2011), 171-192.

[Cameron Bradley and Ruth Mazo Karras,] “Masculine Sexuality and a Double Standard in Early Thirteenth-Century Flanders?” Leidschrift 25 (2010), 63-77.

[Ruth Mazo Karras and Jacqueline Murray,] “The Sexual Body,” in  A Cultural History of the Human Body, vol. 2, In the Medieval Age, ed. Linda Kalof (Oxford: Berg, 2010), 59-75.

“Marriage, Concubinage, and the Law,” in Law and the Illicit in Medieval Europe, ed. Ruth Mazo Karras, Joel Kaye, and E. Ann Matter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 117-129.

“Thomas Aquinas’s Chastity Belt: Clerical Masculinity in Medieval Europe,” in Gender & Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives, ed. Lisa Bitel and Felice Lifshitz (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 52-67.

“Chastity and Clerical Masculinity,” in Professing Gender, ed. Lisa Bitel and Felice Lifshitz (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

“The History of Marriage and the Myth of Friedelehe,” Early Medieval Europe 14 (2006), 119-151.

“Knighthood, Compulsory Heterosexuality, and Sodomy,” in The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, ed. Matthew Kuefler (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 273-286,

“The Lechery That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Sodomy and the Vices in Medieval England,” in In the Garden of Evil: The Vices and Culture in the Middle Ages, ed. Richard Newhauser (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2005), 193-205.