faculty

Dana M. Polanichka

Associate Professor of History; Fall 2019 Resident Director, Wheaton in Bhutan

Contact

327 Knapton

N/A (Prof. P. is in Bhutan for Fall 2019.)

(508) 286-3672

(508) 286-3640

About

Main Interests

Late antique, medieval, and early modern European political and cultural history, especially gender, sexuality, and the conception of scandal at the Carolingian court.

Other Interests

A complete bibliophile, I am always excited to talk to students, colleagues, friends, and (honestly) strangers about books, particularly classic and contemporary novels. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling the world, studying Buddhism, and practicing mindfulness and meditation. I have a particular affection for the Himalayan, Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan where I am spending the 2019–2020 academic year. Originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, I consider NEPA (northeastern Pennsylvania) my home away from home.

Degrees

Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles
M.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles
A.B., Medieval Studies, Dartmouth College

Research Interests

My research centers on early medieval European history, specifically the Carolingian realm from the reign of Pepin the Short (r. 751–768 CE) through the civil wars of the 840s CE. I approach the Frankish world through the lenses of cultural, political, and gender history. The questions animating my research involve the intersection of religion and royal power, the role of physicality and space in Christian devotion and the political imagination, and, more recently, the nature of the gendered body in the Church and at court.

My current research explores gender, sexuality and family at the Carolingian court and among the Frankish aristocracy during the reigns of Charlemagne (768-814 CE), Louis the Pious (814-840 CE), and Louis the Pious’s sons (840–877 CE). My first major project in this area explores the life of Charlemagne’s second daughter, Bertha, and the gendered nature of scandal at the Carolingian court through a biographical narrative lens. My second major project examines a handbook penned by a Frankish aristocratic woman for her son in the mid-ninth century. These two projects, as well as many of my articles, have been undertaken in full collaboration with Wheaton undergraduate students.

Teaching Interests

I enjoy teaching courses that span the ancient, medieval, and early modern Western worlds, especially those focusing on religion, gender, and all forms of intellectual, cultural, and political history. All my classes encourage interdisciplinary exploration and the examination of myriad texts, both written and visual.

Courses I have taught include:

  • First Year Seminar: The Middle Ages in Popular Culture
  • History 101: The Development of Modern Europe to 1789
  • History 110. Ancient Western History
  • History 111. The History of Europe to 1000 CE
  • History 207: Medieval Europe
  • History 253: Medieval Popular Religion and Devotion
  • History 298. Byzantine History
  • History 298. History of England
  • History 298: History of Christianity
  • History 343: Late Antiquity–Transformation and Migration
  • History 344: Sex, Gender, and the Body in the Medieval World (Fall 2013)
  • History 398: Carolingian History
  • History 401: Senior Seminar

I have also enjoyed teaching courses outside pre-modern Europe and even beyond the discipline of history while leading students on study abroad programs. These international courses include:

  • AFDS 201; Witnessing Contemporary African Society (South Africa January 2014 Study-Abroad)
  • INT 250: Dzongka Language and Culture (co-instructor, Wheaton in Bhutan Program, Fall 2017 and Fall 2019)
  • INT 260: Contemporary Bhutanese Society (Wheaton in Bhutan Program, Fall 2017 and Fall 2019)
  • INT 360: Practicum in Bhutan (Wheaton in Bhutan Program, Fall 2017 and Fall 2019)

Publications

“Book as Body: Material Activation of the Senses, Maternal Authority, and Spiritual Progression in Dhuoda’s Liber manualis (840s CE),” Mediaevalia 41 (forthcoming 2020).

‘Quasi per speculum’: Mirror-imagery, vision, and vigilance in Dhuoda’s Liber manualis,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Medieval History (expected publication date: February 2020).

“‘My Temple Should Be a House of Prayer’: The Use and Misuse of Carolingian Churches,” Church History 87, no. 2 (June 2018): 1–28.

“‘As a Brother Should Be’: Siblings, Kinship, and Community in Carolingian Europe,” in Kinship and Community: Social and Cultural History, ed. Jason Coy, Ben Marschke, Jared Poley, and Claudia Verhoeven (Berghahn, 2015).

First author, with Alex Cilley  (Wheaton ’14), “The Very Personal History of Nithard: Family and Honor in the Carolingian World,” Early Medieval Europe 22, no. 2 (2014): 171-200.

“Transforming Space, (Per)forming Community: Church Consecration in Carolingian Europe,” Viator 43, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 79-98.

“Another Word on Job-Market Etiquette,” Perspectives in History 49, no. 9 (Dec. 2011): 28-29.

Getting an Academic Job in History. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 2009.

Student Projects

Undergraduate students are key participants in my varied research projects, as noted above. Over the past seven years, I have worked with six different history majors on a research project entitled “Women and Family, Love and Marriage at the Court of Charlemagne.” Our collaborative research has been supported financially by a Wheaton Research Partnership (2010–2014, 2016–present) and five Wheaton College Mars/Mellon Collaborative Summer Research Grants (2011–12, 2015–17).