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Richard Kieckhefer

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and History

Richard Kieckhefer is the John Evans Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies. His research interests focus mainly on the late Middle Ages, with special interest in church architecture and in the history of witchcraft and magic. He is currently writing books on "the mystical presence of Christ" in the late Middle Ages (an exploration of the relationship between ordinary and extraordinary piety, between shared religious culture and exceptional religious experience) and late medieval church-building (an inquiry into the collaboration and conflict among different interest groups in the creation of monuments meant to serve and symbolize communal interests). His published books include European Witch Trials (Routledge & Kegan Paul; 1976), Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany (Pennsylvania, 1979), Unquiet Souls (Chicago, 1984), Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1989), Forbidden Rites (Sutton and Penn State, 1997), and Theology in Stone (Oxford, 2004). A theme underlying much of his research is the way in which communities create and sustain a sense of shared culture in the face of difference, dissention, and dispute.

Selected Works


European Witch Trials: Their Foundations in Popular and Learned Culture, 1300-1500 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976).

Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth-Century Saints and Their Religious Milieu (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984; paperback, 1987).

Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990; reissued 2000 as a Canto book; translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, and Turkish).

Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer's Manual of the Fifteenth Century (Stroud: Sutton, 1997; University Park: Penn State University Press, 1998).

Theology in Stone: Church Architecture from Byzantium to Berkeley (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).


“Meister Eckhart's conception of union with God,” Harvard Theological Review, 71 (1978), 203-25

“Major currents in late medieval devotion,” in Jill Raitt, ed., Christian Spirituality, 2 (New York: Crossroad, 1987), 75-108

“The specific rationality of medieval magic,” American Historical Review, 99 (1994), 813-36

“The holy and the unholy: sainthood, witchcraft, and magic in late medieval Europe,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 24 (1994), 355-85

In Scott L. Waugh and Peter D. Diehl, eds., Christendom and Its Discontents: Exclusion, Persecution, and Rebellion, 1000-1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 310-37

“The office of inquisition and medieval heresy: the transition from personal to institutional jurisdiction,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 46 (1995), 36-61

“Convention and conversion: patterns in late medieval piety,” Church History, 67 (1998), 32-51

“Mythologies of witchcraft in the fifteenth century,” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, 1 (2006), 79-107

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