Faculty Directory

Valerie L. Garver

Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor

Fields of Study: Medieval Europe, Social, Gender, Sexuality, and Women, Religion

Email: vgarver@niu.edu
Phone: 815-753-6823
Office: Zulauf 607

Education: Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2003

Current Research:

My research interests center upon the early Middle Ages, particularly the social history of the Carolingian Empire. I am most engaged in questions concerning the history of women, gender, childhood, and family and the historical and interdisciplinary study of material culture. I am currently working on a book titled "The Meanings and Uses of Textiles and Clothing in the Carolingian World," which examines a crucial form of early medieval material culture. My research has been supported by a Solmsen Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Fulbright Program, the American Philosophical Society, and by grants from Northern Illinois University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Notre Dame.

Major/Recent Publications:


  • Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World (Cornell University Press, 2009, paperback edition 2012).
    Edited with Owen M. Phelan,
  • Rome and Religion in the Medieval World: Essays in Honor of Thomas F. X. Noble (Ashgate Press, 2014)
  • Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World (Cornell University Press, 2009, paperback edition 2012).


  • “Material Culture and Social History in Early Medieval Western Europe,” History Compass 12/10 (2014): 784-93.
  • “Textiles as a Means of Female Religious Participation in the Carolingian World,” in Ancient and Medieval Religion in Practice, ed. Sari Katajala–Peltomaa and Ville Vuolante, Helsinki: Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae, 2013, pp. 133-44.
  • "Girlindis and Alpais: Telling the Lives of Two Textile Fabricators in the Carolingian Empire," in Writing Medieval Women's Lives, ed. Charlotte Newman Goldy and Amy Livingstone, Palgrave Press, 2012, pp. 155-72.
  • “Childbearing and Infancy in the Carolingian World,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 21.2 (2012): 208-44.
  • “Weaving Words in Silk: Women and Inscribed Bands in the Carolingian World,“ Medieval Clothing and Textiles 6 (2010): 33-56.
  • “Faith and Religion,” A Cultural History of Childhood and Family in the Middle Ages, ed. Louise Wilkinson, A Cultural History of Childhood and Family, vol. 2 (Oxford: Berg, 2010), pp. 145-60, 205-7.
  • “Learned Women? Liutberga and the Instruction of Carolingian Women,” in Lay Intellectuals in the Carolingian World, ed. Patrick Wormald and Janet L. Nelson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 121-38.
  • “Old Age and Women in the Carolingian World,” in Old Age in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Albrecht Classen (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2007), pp. 121-41.
  • “The Influence of Monastic Ideals Upon Carolingian Conceptions of Childhood,” in Childhood in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: the Results of a paradigm shift in the history of mentality, ed. Albrecht Classen (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005), pp. 67-85.

Teaching Interests:

In addition to teaching Western Civilization to 1500, I teach a variety of classes about the Middle Ages at the undergraduate level. My specific teaching interests include the Carolingian world, the social history of the European Middle Ages, and the history of women, gender, childhood, and family. In addition to teaching history classes, I regularly teach two interdisciplinary courses in medieval studies. At the graduate level, my teaching interests focus upon western Europe in the early Middle Ages; women and gender; childhood; the history of Christianity; and the historical use of material culture.

Courses Taught:

  •      HIST 110 Western Civilization to 1500
  •      IDSP 225 Introduction to Medieval Society and Culture
  •      HIST 305 Europe in the Early Middle Ages
  •      HIST 306 Europe in the Later Middle Ages
  •      HIST 319 Early Islamic World
  •      HIST 407/507 Medieval Women
  •      HIST 408/508 Medieval Everyday Life
  •      IDSP 425 Seminar in Medieval Studies
  •      HIST 490B/590B Knights and Samurai
  •      HIST 490B Game of Thrones, Television, and Medieval History
  •      HIST 630A/B, 640 A/B  History of Childhood in the West
  •      HIST 630A/B  Material Culture in Ancient and Medieval History
  •      HIST 710-770  Research Seminar on Material Culture and History

Interdisciplinary Affiliations:

Co-Director, Medieval Studies Program
Associate, Women’s Studies Program