Fields of Study: Early Medieval Europe, Late Antiquity, History of Religion
Advisor: Helmut Reimitz
Molly Lester studies late antique and early medieval Europe, with a focus on the history of Christianity.
Molly is interested in debates about religious orthodoxy, Christian interpretations of the relationship between religious practice and belief, and early medieval compilation and implementation of canon law. Her dissertation, "The Word as Lived: The Practice of Orthodoxy in Visigothic Iberia, 540-700," traces attempts to define and actualize Christian orthodoxy throughout the shifting religious landscape of sixth- and seventh-century Visigothic Iberia. Using diverse sources such as church councils, theological and pastoral texts, and liturgy, she explores Visigothic Christian anxieties about worship and moral living, first in the face of rival 'heretical' groups and later in debates over divergent practice within the 'orthodox' community. Emphasizing that practice was regarded as a dynamic part of being a religious individual, she considers how people attempted to use religious practice to organize and govern their communities according to their ideas of religious orthodoxy.
Molly has completed general examination fields in Early Medieval Europe, the High Middle Ages, and Mediterranean Christianity 300-700. She has been a teaching assistant for HIS 211: Europe from Antiquity to 1600, and HIS 343: The Civilization of the Early Middle Ages. Her article, "The Ties that Bind: Diagnosing Social Crisis in Julian of Toledo's Historia Wambae," will be appearing in Historiographies of Identity: Post-Roman Multiplicity and New Political Identities, ed. by Helmut Reimitz and Gerda Heydemann (forthcoming) . Molly received a B.A. in History and Anthropology, with a minor in Latin American literature, from the University of Florida in 2010.