David Aers
James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of English

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) completed a book for the University of Notre Dame Press entitled: Beyond Reformation? An Essay on Langland 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 David Aers has been working on a book that explores different and changing versions of predestination and reprobation both within the later Middle Ages and the Reformation. The book addresses a range of writers from Thomas Aquinas to John Milton.  It should be completed in 2019.

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 two on the English Reformation, one with Nigel Smith, one with Russ Leo, and two on late medieval and early modern culture with Sarah Beckwith, one on Conversion, one on Tragedy. David Aers is co-editor, with Sarah Beckwith (Duke) and James Simpson (Harvard) of the Notre Dame University Press series devoted to work that goes across the institutionalized division between medieval and early modern studies, a series entitled ReFormations. 

David Aers is currently Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Duke.

He is James B. Duke Professor of English and Historical Theology, with appointments both in the English Department and the Divinity School.

Office Hours

Fall 2022 Semester:

Thursdays 1:00-3:00 PM (402 Allen)

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 402 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
  • Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708-0015

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