The Catholic University of America

Jennifer Paxton

Clinical Assistant Professor of History

Office: Marist 205 

Education: Ph.D., Harvard University, 1999


Jennifer Paxton is working on a book manuscript entitled Chronicle and Community in Twelfth-Century England. In it she considers the ways in which medieval English monastic communities used historical texts to assert various claims to power and authority in a rapidly changing political, economic, and spiritual landscape. She is focusing on chronicles written at eastern English monasteries in the aftermath of the great upheavals of the Norman Conquest and the civil war of King Stephen’s reign, in which monastic compilers deployed every resource at their command to distinguish themselves from rival houses and defend themselves against the sometimes aggressive claims of lay lords and even bishops. Dr. Paxton is also working on a further project that examines changing views of abbatial leadership across the Anglo-Norman world in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Recent articles include:

  • “Good Lordship and Bad Lordship in English Monastic Chronicles,” in The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe, 950–1350 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005) 227–36.
  • “Textual Communities in the English Fenlands: A Lay Audience for Monastic Chronicles?” Anglo-Norman Studies 26 (2004 for 2003), 123-37.
  • “Forging Communities: Memory and Identity in Post-Conquest England,” Haskins Society Journal 10 (2002 for 2001) 95-109.
  • “Monks and Bishops: The Purpose of the Liber Eliensis,” Haskins Society Journal 11 (2003 for 1998) 17-30.

Dr. Paxton has also produced two series of lectures for The Great Courses: The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest, and 1066. She is currently at work preparing an additional series entitled Celtic Civilization. It will cover the Celts from prehistory to the present. In 2015 Dr. Paxton will also lead a tour to Ireland for the Smithsonian.


Recent courses taught include:

History 216A, Medieval Britain
History 236A, The World of the Crusades 
History 380A, Medieval Ireland
History 387, Junior Seminar
History 401/496, Senior Seminar 
History 609 and 610, Medieval Civilization I and II
History 617A, 640 and 640A, Colloquia in Medieval England 
History 643A, Medieval Monasticism
History 805, Research seminar in Medieval England