People Collection


Andrew Gow, B.A. (Hons.), M.A., Ph.D.



History and Classics

About Me

Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta, 1993-present

Adjunct Professor of Medieval Studies, University of Victoria, 2017-2020

Director, Program in Religious Studies, University of Alberta (2011-2017)

Lansdowne Lecturer, University of Victoria, 2016

Mercator Visiting Professor, DFG, 2008 (University of Augsburg)

Humboldt Research Fellow, 2002-2003 (University of Erlangen)

Editor-in-chief, monograph series 'Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions. History, Culture, Religion, Ideas', Brill, 2000-present

General Editor, Encyclopedia of Early Modern History, Brill (from vol. 6 on; 2018- )

SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 1993-1995 (declined)

SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, 1989-1993

Post-secondary education: University of Ottawa and Carleton University (B.A. Hons), the University of Freiburg, the University of Toronto (M.A.), and the University of Arizona (Ph.D.)

Schools: Russell Public School, Russell, ON; T.P. Maxwell Public School, Glashan Public School, and Glebe Collegiate Institute, Ottawa, Ontario

Early childhood and earliest memories: Montreal

My training consists (rather schizophrenically) of a number of quite separate specialities: first in literary formalism, then in the traditions of social history and social theory, then in German Geistesgeschichte and the history of Christianity. This makes me a cultural and intellectual historian with a special interest in literary, social and cultural theory. I am generally interested in popular religion and culture in late medieval and early modern Europe.


Main Fields:

Apocalypticism, Popular religion and culture, History of theology, Christian-Jewish relations, Lay Bible-reading and exegesis (later Middle Ages), History of cartography (medieval and early modern Europe), History and historiography of witch-hunting, Gender theory and gender history, Secularism and secularization

In my first book, I traced and analyzed the German legend of the Red Jews, an imaginary conflation of the Ten Tribes of Israel with Gog and Magog, the apocalyptic destroyers featured in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. My publications since 2000 on the 'Protestant paradigm' regarding vernacular Bible translations and editions in the later Middle Ages contributed to a new field of research and debate, with a research cluster at the University of Groningen and a number of conferences and conference panels devoted to the topic. This project addressed late medieval vernacular Bibles, their readership, their dissemination and their cultural effects -- which includes contributing to the conditions under which the Protestant Reformation 'caught fire' so quickly: e.g., Luther's Bible translation was a hit because burghers had been reading vernacular Bibles and biblical texts for so long, not because they had been denied access to the Bible. The wide distribution and availability of German and other vernacular Bible translations in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with 22 printed full Bible translations into German/Low German/Netherlandish appearing before Luther’s famous Bible translation, has been known to scholars since at least the early eighteenth century, when various works on German Bibles before the Reformation began to appear. However, the existence of such translations did not guarantee that scholars, especially church historians and historians of the Reformation took such Bible translations seriously. My findings also demonstrate how central modes of history-writing participate in myth-making -- sometimes even under the guise of source analysis.

Demonology and witch-hunting: for more about my current research, please see this lecture:

In 2003, my former M.A. student Dr. Lara Apps and I co-published Male Witches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester UP), which was based in part on her M.A. thesis. Since 2005, Dr. Robert Desjardins (Ph.D. 2008) and I, along with François Pageau and a number of other graduate students, have been working on the witch trials at Arras in 1459-60 -- possibly the very first mass witch-trials that took the classic form under which we know them, a snowball phenomenon driven by torture and sponsored by the authorities -- after coming across a hitherto unknown manuscript of a treatise written to justify the trials in their gruesome aftermath. This princely manuscript had been lurking in the UofA library system's Bruce Peel Special Collections since it was donated to the university by Dr. John Lunn in 1989, but its existence was unknown to scholarship -- a 1999 edition of the text relied on manuscripts held at Paris, Brussels and Oxford, but the UofA manuscript is probably the oldest and the best of them. This text anticipates the much better known Witches' Hammer (Malleus Maleficarum) by a quarter century, and already contains all the elements that the later text would so famously disseminate. Our critical edition of the UofA ms., collated against the other known manuscripts and the 1475 incunabulum printed by Colard Mansion, is in preparation. Our translation of the text, the first into English, and of another treatise written at the same time and in the same place, in collaboration with my Ph.D. student François Pageau and my former student Dr. Robert Desjardins, appeared with Penn State University Press in 2016: The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library and Archives produced and hosts a digital exhibition on this manuscript: We are working on a further volume of student essays arising from a number of seminars in which we studied the treatises and the events. We have finished and hope to publish in 2018 with the collaboration of Dr. Jessica Roussanov our complete translation of the voluminous Middle French records of the appeal of the Arras convictions to the Parlement (royal court) of Paris spanning the years 1461 to 1467, with brief postludes up to the final resolution of the appeals in 1491, together with translations of the many late-medieval chronicle entries and other sources relating to these trials from the dawn of the European witch-craze.