Wendy Love Anderson

Wendy Love Anderson

Assistant Director of Academic Programs for the Center for the Humanities
PhD, The University of Chicago
research interests:
  • History of Christianity (especially medieval)
  • Jewish-Christian relations
  • Religion and childhood
  • Comparative religions
  • Medievalism
  • Digital humanities and educational technologies

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Campus Box 1071
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
image of book cover

Dr. Anderson's research focuses on the history of medieval Christianity Jewish-Christian relations, and how medieval religious and cultural configurations remain with us today.

Her first book, The Discernment of Spirits: Assessing Visions and Visionaries in the Late Middle Ages, was published in 2011. She is currently working on a book-length project about how the idea of Jewish childhood is deployed religiously and politically in Christian miracle stories, exempla, and saints' lives (mostly but not entirely of medieval origin).

Anderson advises and administers the Center for the Humanities' minors in Children’s Studies and Medical Humanities as well as its Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship Program. She co-teaches the Kling Seminar and teaches one additional course supporting the center’s minors each semester. In recent semesters she has taught: "Children and Childhood in World Religions" and "Religion and Healing."

The Discernment of Spirits: Assessing Visions and Visionaries in the Late Middle Ages (Spatmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation: Studies in the Late Middle Ages, Humanism and the Reformation)

The Discernment of Spirits: Assessing Visions and Visionaries in the Late Middle Ages (Spatmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation: Studies in the Late Middle Ages, Humanism and the Reformation)

Late medieval Christians lived in a world of visions, but they knew that not all visions came from God: angels, demons, illness, nature, or passion could also inspire an apparent divine visitation. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the involvement of visionaries in everything from reform movements to military campaigns to papal schisms raised the political and spiritual stakes of determining whether or not a vision was truly from God. In response, a diverse group of medieval thinkers – including men and women, clergy and laity, visionaries and theologians – gradually began to transform the loose patristic readings of Pauline discretio spirituum into a system with the potential to distinguish between true and false visions and between genuine and delusional visionaries. Wendy Love Anderson chronicles the historical, political, and spiritual struggles behind the flowering of late medieval mysticism and what came to be seen as the Christian doctrine of discernment of spirits.