Geary, Patrick J. 1948–

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Geary, Patrick J. 1948–

(Patrick Joseph Geary)

PERSONAL: Born September 26, 1948, in Jackson, MS; son of Walter Thomas (in business) and Celine (president of a health-care consulting company; maiden name, McGinn) Geary; married Mary Carroll (a nursing supervisor), August 29, 1970; children: Catherine Celine Glavan, Anne Irene Brinker. Education: Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1970; attended Catholic University of Louvain, 1968–69; Yale University, M.Phil., 1973, Ph.D., 1974. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: HomeLos Angeles, CA. Office—Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles, 6265 Bunche Hall, Box 951473, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1473. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Writer, historian, and educator. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, assistant professor of history, 1974–80; University of Florida, Gainesville, associate professor, 1980–86, professor of history, 1986–93; University of California, Los Angeles, professor of history, 1993–, director of UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1993–98, director of UCLA Humanities Consortium, 1996–98; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, professor of history and Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute, 1998–2000. Visiting professor at universities, including University of Vienna, 1983, Princeton University, 2002, and Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 2003; École des Hautes Études, visiting associate director of studies, 1984, 1990, 2003; American Academy in Rome, resident, 2006. Has served on numerous committees and councils. Military service: U.S. Army Reserve, 1973–; captain


MEMBER: Mediaeval Academy of America, American Historical Association, American Association for the Advancement of the Humanities.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellowship, 1970; Yale Prize teaching fellowship, 1973–74; grants from governments of Austria, 1976, and West Germany, 1981, and from American Philosophical Society, 1981; L.J. Skasggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation grant, 1984–86; American Council of Learning Societies fellowship, 1987–88; Max Planck Institute for History research fellowship, beginning 1990; Guggenheim fellowship, 1990–91; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, 1998–2000.


"Furta Sacra": Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1978.

Aristocracy in Provence: The Rhone Basin at the Dawn of the Carolingian Age, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1985.

(Editor) Léon Frémaux's New Orleans Characters, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 1987.

(Editor) Céline Frémaux Garcia, Céline: Remembering Louisiana, 1850–1871, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1987.

Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1988.

(Editor) Readings in Medieval History, Broadview Press (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada), 1989, 2nd edition, 1997.

(With Mark Kishlansky and Patricia O'Brien) Civilization in the West, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991, 6th edition, Pearson Longman (New York, NY), 2006, published as Civilization in the West since 1300, 2003.

(Translator) Living in the Tenth Century: Mentalities and Social Orders, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.

(With Mark Kishlansky) The Unfinished Legacy: A Brief History of Western Civilization, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992, 4th edition with Mark Kishlansky and Patricia O'Brien, published as A Brief History of Western Civilization: The Unfinished Legacy, Pearson Longman (New York, NY), 2005.

Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1994.

Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.

(With Mark Kishlansky, Patricia O'Brien, and Bin Wong) Societies and Cultures in World History, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Medieval Germany in America, German Historical Institute (Washington, DC), 1996.

(Editor, with Gerd Althoff and Johannes Fried) Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.

(With Mark Kishlansky and Patricia O'Brien) Civilization in the West since 1300, Longman (New York, NY), 2003.

Women at the Beginning: Origin Myths from the Amazons to the Virgin Mary, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2006.

Contributor to history and archaeology journals; author, with Gene Rosow, of the six-part television program for, Chevalier, R & B Pictures. University of Michigan Press Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Civilization, member of consulting board of editors; editor, Latin Authors of the Middle Ages; medieval section editor, Recently Published Articles; associate editor, Exemplaria.

SIDELIGHTS: Patrick J. Geary is a specialist in the medieval history of Europe. In his book Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium he "explores the ways people of all social ranks in the formerly Carolingian territories preserved the past," according to Historian contributor Glenn W. Olsen. Olsen went on to note that the author "is concerned with what was forgotten as with what was remembered." R.I. Moore, writing in History Today, called the book "a brave and ingenious experiment in historical method." Moore continued: "And it poses in particularly tantalizing form the question which is raised by every argument for sudden and unprecedented change. Each generation writes it own history, after all. Why should we think that the way in which the generation that was born around the millennium did so more sweepingly or more profoundly than its predecessors had done in their time?"

Geary discusses how people during the Middle Ages viewed the dead in Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages. Made up of a series of twelve essays by the author, eleven of which were previously published and then revised, the book explores how the dead invaded all parts of medieval life, from the social and cultural to the political and economic. For example, the author discusses the importance of relics in such areas as their role in trade and the development of cults. "Overall, Geary's thoughtful attention to context and process reveals a complex logic behind behavior that might otherwise seem incomprehensible, superstitious, or simply primitive," wrote Fred Paxton in the Journal of Social History. "Clearly and engagingly written, and based on wide reading … this book is an excellent guide to the social meanings of some central aspects of early medieval religion and culture."

With Gerd Althoff and Johannes Fried, Geary edited Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography. It contains papers that were presented at a colloquium held in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1996 on the differences in medieval scholarship between American and German historians. English Historical Review contributor John Gillinham called the volume "intriguing," and also noted that "the editors welcome what they see as a 'reunification' of two historiographical traditions divided for a century … and hope that this volume will itself contribute to a continuing convergence."

In The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe, Geary focuses on the ideas of ethnogenesis (the emergence of ethnic groups) and national identity. As noted by a Publishers Weekly contributor, the author "debunks the myth that modern European national and ethnic groups can be traced to distinct ancient or early medieval peoples." Writing in History: Review of New Books, Kelly McFall believed that the author's primary purpose in writing the book was "to participate in the contemporary political debate regarding nationalism." McFall went on to comment that the author has written the book for general readers rather than historians per se and added: "Such works rarely break new ground, but his concentration on late antiquity is a valuable complement to the more contemporary focus typical of nationality studies."

Geary once told CA: "In my writing I attempt to examine the relationships between social and material conditions on the one hand, and religion, ideology, and memory on the other. I am interested in the way past societies have creatively perceived their past, themselves, and their relationships with other individuals, groups, and divinities. Besides the obvious influence on my work of modern French historians, particularly Georges Duby, I suspect that my interest in time, perception, and creation of a past develops from my own very strong self identity as a Southerner, and more particularly as a Louisianian, and from the work of phenomenological existentialists such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty. I see myself as one of a minority of American historians attempting to revolutionize the positivistic, uncritical, and myopic tradition of medieval historiography which dominates work in this field done in North America."



CLIO, winter, 1997, Nicholas Birns, review of Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium, p. 229.

English Historical Review, September, 2003, John Gillingham, review of Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, p. 1033.

Historian, winter, 1996, Glenn W. Olsen, review of Phantoms of Remembrance, p. 431.

History: Review of Books, fall, 2002, Kelly McFall, review of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe, p. 35.

History Today, February, 1996, R.I. Moore, review of Phantoms of Remembrance, p. 48.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October, 2003, Julia Barrow, review of Medieval Concepts of the Past, p. 750.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 1996, Bernard S. Bachrach, review of Phantoms of Remembrance, p. 105.

Journal of Social History, summer, 1996, Fred Paxton, review of Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages, p. 982.

Journal of World History, June, 2004, Ernst Gerhardt, review of The Myth of Nations, p. 248.

Publishers Weekly, December 3, 2001, review of The Myth of Nations, p. 50.

Times Literary Supplement, March 15, 2002, R.I. Moore, review of The Myth of Nations, pp. 4-5.


UCLA History Department Web site, (March 23, 2006), faculty profile of the author.