College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > History > Faculty > Karen Scott
am a historian specializing in medieval and Renaissance Europe. I became
interested in history as a child: I am an American, but was brought up in France,
near Paris, and went to French elementary and high schools. My BA degree is
from Harvard, where my concentration was in history and literature. I received
an MA and PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley. While
completing research on my doctoral dissertation, I lived for many years in
Siena, a medieval city near Florence in Tuscany, Italy. I moved to Chicago in
1989 to teach in the History Department at DePaul University. Later, I was
involved in the creation of Catholic Studies as an interdisciplinary program,
and I served as the first Chair of Catholic Studies when it became a
scholarly focus is the letters and other writings dictated by St. Catherine of
Siena, the medieval Italian mystic and church reformer (1347-1380). I have also
worked with the saint’s lives composed about her by others shortly after her
death. I have published essays on St.
Catherine’s views of herself as a lay “apostle” and peacemaker, on her ministry
through letter writing, and on her mysticism. I am currently working on a book
about St. Catherine’s Biblical culture. An uneducated lay woman associated with
the Dominican order, Catherine dictated letters and mystical/doctrinal
treatises steeped in short Scripture quotations that she had encountered in
medieval preaching and the liturgy.
DePaul University, I teach Catholic Studies core courses on the Catholic
experience from the early church through the 1700s; Catholic Studies courses on
“Beauty” and on the Medieval mystics; and History courses on late antique,
medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation intellectual history, culture, and
society. For the First-Year program, I teach Focal Point Seminars, “Mary of
Nazareth” and “Joan of Arc,” and the Chicago Quarter course, “Explore the
Medieval City in Chicago.” I have also taught extensively in DePaul’s Study
Abroad Programs in Paris, Florence, and Rome.
And I teach the graduate course, “History of World Christianity,” at
Catholic Theological Union.