Alex Novikoff | Assistant Professor
Office: 219 Buckman Hall | Phone: (901) 843-3584 | Email:



I am a medievalist with broad teaching and research interests. My courses range from the introductory survey of Medieval Europe to special topics courses such as the Crusades, the 12th-Century Renaissance, and Medieval Spain. I also teach in the “Search” program and believe strongly in the values of a liberal arts curriculum (which is itself largely medieval in origin). My teaching philosophy, which I have inherited from my own teachers, stresses the importance of reading primary source documents at every level and learning to think about the past in connection with the present. Critical thinking, clear writing, and fostering a sense of perspective are among the most important skills that can be gained from the study of the past, and writing assignments for my classes aim to develop just those skills.



My scholarship focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of western Europe, mainly from about 1000 to 1300 CE. I have previously written on topics such as Jewish-Christian relations, medieval political theory, the investiture conflict, and medievalism. Currently I am writing a book on the culture of disputation in twelfth- and thirteenth-century France. My goal in this project is to understand the literary origins of scholastic disputation (which I locate in the medieval dialogue genre) and to explore the cultural ramifications of the institutionalization of disputation that accompanied the development of the first universities. My work has taken me to research libraries across North America and Europe, and I have presented my work at conferences at many different locations, including Madrid, Venice, Leeds, Harvard University, Brown University, the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI, and UCLA’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. In the spring of 2009, I was a Lindsay Young visiting fellow at the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Most recently, I have been awarded a 2010-2011 Faculty Career Enhancement grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to lead a faculty travel seminar to Jordan, Israel, and Cyprus entitled "Crusaders, Muslims, and Jews in the Holy Land."


Outside the Classroom

I hail from Greenwich Village in New York City, where I lived until I graduated from college. Since leaving the Big Apple, I have lived 2 years in England, 6 years in Philadelphia and for the past 7 summers have taught European and World history courses at an American Liberal Arts College in Lugano, Switzerland. I am also a French citizen, and on average I spend between 1 and 3 months of the year in France with family and friends and exploring France’s rich medieval heritage. I am also a concert violinist/violist and I maintain an active schedule of performances with professional and volunteer ensembles throughout the country and especially in the mid South. In addition to my teaching, research, and music performances, I also enjoy playing competitive tennis, hiking, skiing, watching baseball, and singing along to Johnny Cash.


Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2007
M.Phil., Cambridge University (Wolfson College), 2003
M.A., University of York (U.K.), 2002
B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa), New York University, 2000


History 212 – Medieval Europe
History 315 – What Were the Crusades?
History 414 – Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Medieval Spain
History 415 – The Twelfth-Century Renaissance
Humanities 102 – The Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion

Selected Publications


Jean-Claude Schmitt, The Conversion of Herman the Jew: Autobiography, History, and Fiction in the Twelfth Century, trans. Alex J. Novikoff (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).

Alex J. Novikoff, The Culture of Disputation in Medieval Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), forthcoming.

Alex J. Novikoff, ed., The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century: A Reader (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), under contract.

Alex J. Novikoff, A Short History of Muslim Spain (London: I. B. Tauris), under contract.


Articles and Book Chapters

“Toward a Cultural History of Scholastic Disputation,” American Historical Review, 117, no. 2 (April 2012): 331-364.

“Anselm, Dialogue, and the Rise of Scholastic Disputation,” Speculum 86, 2 (April, 2011): 387-418.

“The Middle Ages,” in Antisemitism: A History, ed. Richard Levy and Albert Lindemann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 63-78.

“Licit and Illicit in the Rhetoric of the Investiture Conflict,” in Law and the Illicit in Medieval Europe, ed. Ruth Mazo Karras, E. Ann Matter, and Joel Kaye (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 183-196.

“Reason and Natural Law in the Disputational Writings of Peter Alfonsi, Peter Abelard, and Yehuda Halevi,” in Christian Attitudes Towards the Jews in the Middle Ages: A Casebook, ed. Michael Frassetto (London: Routledge, 2007), 109-36.

“The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century Before Haskins,” The Haskins Society Journal, 16 (2005): 104-116.

“Between Tolerance and Intolerance in Medieval Spain: An Historiographic Enigma,” Medieval Encounters, 11, 2 (2005): 6-36.

“Henry VII and the Universal Empire of Engelbert of Admont and Dante Alighieri,” Pensiero Politico Medievale 3 (2005): 137-159.