1. K-State home
  2. »Arts and Sciences
  3. »History
  4. »Faculty
  5. »David Defries

Department of History

David Defries 

Associate Professor

Office: 13 Calvin Hall
Email: ddefries@ksu.edu

David Defries

My research focuses on communal dynamics in early medieval Europe. I began my career studying the collective identity embodied in the eleventh-century cult of the saints at the small Flemish abbey of Saint-Winnoc at Bergues (modern France). My first book, From Sithiu to Saint-Bertin, grew out of this initial research after I concluded that I could not tell Saint-Winnoc’s story without the context created by its mother abbey, Sithiu (located at modern Saint-Omer, France). Between roughly 650 and 1000, the monastic community at Sithiu repeatedly adapted the core elements of its collective memory. My book challenges the dominant “constructing-the-past” approach to collective memory by arguing that paradigms shared through allegories, rather than narratives related through histories, shaped early medieval communal bonds. These paradigms evolved much more gradually than the narrative changes posited by the current consensus.

My current project is a monograph on the “post-Carolingian” county of Flanders with the working title Flanders and the North Atlantic World, 864-1127. There has been much talk recently of a “Global Middle Ages” to signal an interest in the connections between western Europe and the rest of the world, rather than in the particularities that might have made “the West” different from other cultures. Flanders, with its extensive networks of rivers and Roman roads, its multi-lingual population and its position on the borders of French, German, English and Scandinavian communities stood at important cultural intersections in the North Atlantic world. My book will examine the critical role that Flanders played in political, commercial and cultural exchanges stretching from at least Iceland to Constantinople.

I teach a range of courses including a survey of the Middle Ages, a survey of the vikings, a readings course on medieval warfare, a survey of medieval Christianity and a readings course on the Crusades.

Select Publications:

From Sithiu to Saint-Bertin: Hagiographic Exegesis and Collective Memory in the Early Medieval Cults of Omer and Bertin, Studies and Texts 219 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2019), xiv, 340 pp., ISBN 978-0-88844-219-2 Cloth, $95

The Making of a Minor Saint in Drogo of Saint-Winnoc’s Historia translationis s. Lewinnae,” Early Medieval Europe 16:4 (2008): 423-44

“Drogo of Saint-Winnoc and the Innocent Martyrdom of Godeliph of Gistel,” Mediaeval Studies 70 (2008): 29-65

“Godeliph of Gistel and the Politics of Innocent Martyrdom in Eleventh-Century Flanders,” Hagiographica 15 (2008): 31-61

“St. Oswald’s Martyrdom: Drogo of Saint-Winnoc’s Sermo secundus de s. Oswaldo,” The Heroic Age 9 (October 2006), http://www.medievalists.net/2009/06/st-oswalds-martyrdom-drogo-of-saint-winnocs-sermo-secundus-de-s-oswaldo/

Courses Taught:

  • Rise of Europe    
  • Europe in the Middle Ages    
  • Ancient Christianity    
  • Medieval Christianity    
  • Seminar: The Crusades    
  • Saints, Relics and Miracles in Pre-Modern Western Christianity    
  • Graduate Seminar on Memory Studies