Assistant Professor of History
Office Location: Lowenstein Building 422A
Phone: (212) 636-3920
I am an intellectual and cultural historian of medieval Europe, with particular interests in the scholastic culture of the High Middle Ages, Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, and the many interconnections between pedagogy and performance practice. A central methodological concern of my work is to understand the cultural force of ideas and literary genres as they transcend the monastic and scholastic contexts in which they are created and shape the wider culture as a whole. My first book, The Medieval Culture of Disputation: Pedagogy, Practice, and Performance (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) traces the origins of scholastic disputation from its deep roots in the rhetorical traditions of antiquity and the dialogue genre of the early Middle Ages through the creation of an international network of university-educated scholars and debaters, many of whom strove quite deliberately to carry their pedagogical techniques into a wider world. In addition to taking stock of the vast output of theological and polemical dialogues that were composed during the "long twelfth century"--and the charismatic personalities who wrote them--the book also advances the argument that disputation had a far-reaching impact on a host of other cultural forms not ordinarily treated by historians of scholasticism: poetic dialogues, musical counterpoint, liturgical drama, iconography, and Jewish-Christian relations. I am now writing a Short History of Muslim Spain, a survey of scholastic culture in medieval Europe, and a follow-up study to my book on disputation that examines the culture of disputation during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as well as continuing to work on various articles, translations, and edited collections.
My undergraduate courses at Lincoln Center range from the survey of medieval history (History 1300: Understanding Historical Change) to upper division courses in medieval intellectual history, the history of the crusades, and the three religions of medieval Spain. In the graduate program at the Rose Hill campus I teach the Twelfth-Century Renaissance and in 2014-2015 I will be teaching the yearlong medieval history proseminar entitled Medieval Intellectual Cultures. I am currently assembling a collection of primary sources in translation on the topic of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (under contract with the University of Toronto Press) for use in the undergraduate and graduate classroom. Prior to coming to Fordham I taught for five years at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, an institution to which my career owes a great deal. I have also taught history and religious studies to international students at Franklin College in Switzerland for the past 9 summers. When in Memphis I frequently taught evening classes at the center for lifelong learning to adults twice and even thrice my age, producing some my most cherished teaching moments to date, experiences I very much hope to replicate in New York.
Outside the Classroom
I am a proud native of New York City but I like to think of myself as a medievalist sans frontières. My bicultural upbringing was split between a high-rise apartment building in Greenwich Village and a small, predominantly farming village on a volcanic hill in central France, surrounded by the ruins of medieval castles. My first 2 years of graduate school were spent in England, my doctorate was earned in Philadelphia, and a combination of grants and research seminars in the past several years have taken me to Barcelona, Seville, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and elsewhere. Family and research opportunities these days take me frequently to Lithuania and Spain, which are rather inconveniently situated at opposite edges of Europe, but which I think also allow for a more holistic appreciation of the diversity of European cultures. Music and violin-playing have always been a defining part of my life. I graduated from New York's LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts and it is a curious and happy coincidence of life that Fordham should bring me back to the very Lincoln Center where I spent formative years in my own musical and academic education. I remain an avid player, performer, and general supporter of the arts.
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2007
M.Phil, Cambridge University, Wolfson College, 2003
M.A., University of York (U.K.), 2002
B.A., New York University (Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, magna cum laude): History, Anthropology, & Medieval Studies, 2000
Alex J. Novikoff, The Culture of Disputation in Medieval Europe. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).
Jean-Claude Schmitt, The Conversion of Herman the Jew: Autohiography, History, and Fiction in the Twelfth Century, trans. Alex J. Novikoff. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
Alex J. Novikoff, ed., The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century: A Reader. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, under contract).
Articles and Book Chapters
“Toward a Cultural History of Scholastic Disputation,” American Historical Review, 117, no. 2 (April 2012): 331-364.
“Anselm, Dialogue, and the Rise of Scholastic Disputation,” Speculum 86, 2 (April, 2011): 387-418.
“The Middle Ages,” in Antisemitism: A History, ed. Richard Levy and Albert Lindemann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 63-78.
“Licit and Illicit in the Rhetoric of the Investiture Conflict,” in Law and the Illicit in Medieval Europe, ed. Ruth Mazo Karras, E. Ann Matter, and Joel Kaye (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 183-196.
“Reason and Natural Law in the Disputational Writings of Peter Alfonsi, Peter Abelard, and Yehuda Halevi,” in Christian Attitudes Towards the Jews in the Middle Ages: A Casebook, ed. Michael Frassetto (London: Routledge, 2007), 109-36.
“The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century Before Haskins,” The Haskins Society Journal, 16 (2005): 104-116.
“Between Tolerance and Intolerance in Medieval Spain: An Historiographic Enigma,” Medieval Encounters, 11, 2 (2005): 6-36.
“Henry VII and the Universal Empire of Engelbert of Admont and Dante Alighieri,” Pensiero Politico Medievale 3 (2005): 137-159.