Suzanne LaVere joined IPFW’s Department of History in 2008. However, she discovered her research focus in her first year of graduate school: how medieval masters of theology interpret the Bible’s Song of Songs. LaVere discovered her interest in biblical marginalia (notes written by biblical scholars akin to informational footnotes in today’s academic texts) when she read some interesting marginal notes while studying the Song of Songs in the Glossa Ordinaria (a biblical textbook). She has spent the last decade researching how theology masters in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, specifically Anselm of Laon, Peter the Chanter, Stephen Langton, and Hugh of St. Cher, would interpret this oft-called “love dialogue” in the Bible.
LaVere became a respected scholar on the subject even before she earned her Ph.D. According to the Department of History website, her article "From Contemplation to Action: The Role of the Active Life in the Glossa Ordinaria on the Song of Songs" (Speculum, 2007) “received the Van Courtland Elliot Prize from the Medieval Academy of America for best article in medieval studies.” Her dissertation, “Out of the Cloister: Scholastic Exegesis of the Song of Songs, 1100-1340” was also “awarded the Harold Perkin Prize for the best dissertation of the year by the History Department of Northwestern University,” and she is currently working with a publisher now to “refine” her dissertation into a book. LaVere received an A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medieval Studies to study at the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame in the 2011-12 academic year to continue her research as well. To learn more about this prestigious fellowship, visit the website.
Also on the horizon for LaVere is future research in a slightly different kind in medieval biblical scholarship. While researching the Song of Songs commentators listed above, she became interested in “looking at some sermons of the period, especially those of Pope Honorius III (pope from 1216-1227). Honorius was influenced by the scholars whose commentaries I've investigated, and he gave approval for the Dominican Order, whose primary mission is preaching.”
LaVere is also a founding member of IPFW’s new Medieval Studies minor. (To learn more about the minor, visit the webpage.) If you’re interested in learning more about LaVere’s research, taking a Medieval Studies course is a great start. If you’re interested in the manuscripts LaVere researches, she has provided a PDF of one of the texts she examines and studies: a version of Anselm of Laon's Song of Songs commentary (Bibliotheque nationale in Paris, latin manuscript 338).