Prof. Dr. David J. Collins
David J. Collins is an associate professor of History at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
He received degrees in History, Philosophy, and Theology from universities in Charlottesville/VA, Munich, and Cambridge/MA. He earned his doctoral degree in History at Northwestern University in Evanston/IL in 2004.
This part year he completed a three-year term as director of the doctoral program and chaired the university’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, whose report, released in September 2016 inspired considerable nation discussion and received international attention.
David Collins’s research specialization is the intellectual, religious, and cultural history of medieval and early modern Europe. He has published extensively on the medieval cult of the saints, Renaissance humanism, particularly in Germany, and magic. Most recently, he published The Cambridge History of Magic and Witchcraft in the West: From Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge/UK, 2015), of which he was the sole editor.
David Collins is currently studying shifting medieval and early modern understandings of magic in conjunction with developing consensus about “real” science and “rational” theology. He is focusing on the philosophical and theological investigations of the thirteenth-century thinker Albertus Magnus and their reception through the eighteenth century. The emergence and ultimate rejection of Albert’s ideas will shed light on larger processes of rationalization in the West.
Functions within the Center
Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz (January–July 2017)
Research project “Disenchanting Albert, 1200–1800. How Medieval Thinking about Magic Led to Modern Science and Religion”
“Scholastic Critics of Magic.” In The Ashgate Companion to Medieval Magic. Eds. Sophie Page and Catherine Rider. Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2017.
The Cambridge History of Magic in the West. Editor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
“Learned Magic in the West, 1200-1800.” In The Cambridge History of Magic in the West, 332-360. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
“The Christian Church, 1370-1547.” In Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Europe, edited by Hamish Scott. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Albert the Great. Senior volume advisor. In Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, volume 155. Detroit: Gale-Cenage Learning, 2013.
“The Germania illustrata, Humanist History, and the Christianization of Germany.” In Sacred History: Uses of the Christian Past in the Renaissance World, pp. 101-120, edited by Katherine Van Liere, et al. Forward by Anthony Grafton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
“The Renaissance of the Maccabees: Old Testament Jews, German Humanists, and the Cult of the Saints in Early Modern Cologne.” In Dying for the Faith, Killing for the Faith: Old-Testament Faith-Warriors (1 and 2 Maccabees) in Historical Perspective, pp. 211-245, edited by Gabriela Signori. Forward by Jan Assmann. Leiden: Brill, 2012.
“Albertus, Magnus or Magus?: Magic, Natural Philosophy, and Church Reform in the Late Medieval Ages.” Renaissance Quarterly 63 (2010): 1-44.
“Necromancers and Saints: The Medieval Background to a Fifteenth-Century Problem.” Hagiotheca 2 (2010): 219-233.
“Reforming Saints: Saints’ Lives and Their Authors in Germany, 1470-1530.” Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press 2008.