David Aers

Office Hours: 

Tuesday 1:00 p.m.  - 3:00 p.m.

David Aers

James B. Duke Professor of English

External Address: 
402 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708-0015
(919) 684-5065

David Aers works especially on medieval and early modern literature, theology, ecclesiology and politics in England. His publications range from studies of Augustine to studies of early 19th century writing and culture. Publications include: Piers Plowman and Christian Allegory (Arnold 1975); Chaucer, Langland and the Creative Imagination (Routledge, 1980); Literature, Language and Society in England, 1580-1680, written with Bob Hodge and Gunther Kress (Barnes and Noble, 1980); Chaucer (Harvester, 1983); Community, Gender and Individual Identity, 1360-1430 (Routledge, 1988);  Powers of the Holy, written with Lynn Staley (Penn State, 1996); a two edited volumes: Medieval Literature: Criticism, Ideology, History (Harvester, 1986) and Culture and History, 1350-1600 (Wayne State, 1992). In 2000 he published  Faith, Ethics, and Church: Writing in England 1360-1410 (Brewer) and also a collection of essays entitled Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry: Essays in Honor of Derek Pearsall (Brewer). In 2004 he published Sanctifying Signs: Making Christian Tradition in Late Medieval England (Notre Dame). In 2009 he published a work that moved from Augustine to Langland and Julian of Norwich: Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland and Fourteenth-Century Theology (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009) . He has just (2015) completed a book for the University of Notre Dame Press entitled: Beyond Reformation? An Essay on Langland and the End of Constantinian Christianity. This work continues to develop his interests in Christian traditions, theology and political culture while also engaging with some issues raised by current grand narratives of modernity. Centered on Langland's Piers Plowman, a story is told that runs from Ockham to Milton and, very tentatively, Milton's ecclesiology here called "congregationalism." Since completing BEYOND REFORMATION David Aers has been working on a book that explores different and changing versions of predestination and reprobation both within the later Middle Ages and the Reformation. The book addresses a range of writers from Thomas Aquinas to John Milton.  It should be completed in 2019.

David Aers continues as co-editor of  the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. He has edited a number of special issues of JMEMS, most recently two on the English Reformation, one with Nigel Smith, one with Russ Leo, and two on late medieval and early modern culture with Sarah Beckwith, one on Conversion, one on Tragedy. David Aers is co-editor, with Sarah Beckwith (Duke) and James Simpson (Harvard) of the Notre Dame University Press series devoted to work that goes across the institutionalized division between medieval and early modern studies, a series entitled ReFormations. 

David Aers is currently Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Duke.

He is James B. Duke Professor of English and Historical Theology, with appointments both in the English Department and the Divinity School.


  • Ph.D., University of York 1971
  • B.A., University of Cambridge (UK) 1968

Aers, D. Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth-Century Theology. Notre Dame University Press, April 2009.

Beckwith, S. Hermeneutics and Ideology: Reading Medieval and Early Modern Texts. Ed. D Aers and S Beckwith. 2003.

Beckwith, S. Sacrifice. Ed. D Aers and S Beckwith. 2001.

Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry. Ed. D Aers. Brewer, 2000. (Edited Book)

Aers, D. Desire: Its Subjects, Objects, and Histories. Ed. D Aers and A Wharton. 1997.

Christianities: Medieval and Early Modern. Ed. D Aers. 1997. (Edited Book)


Aers, D, and Beckwith, S. "The Eucharist." Cultural Reformations. Ed. J Simpson and B Cummings. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Aers, D, and Beckwith, S. "Discerning the Body." Collection on Medieval and ReformationCulture. Ed. B Cummings and J Simpson. Oxford UP, 2008.

Aers, D. "The Laborer’s Two Bodies." Yearbook of Langland Studies. 2007. 226-236.

Aers, D. "Langland." Oxford University Press Encyclopaedia on Medieval Literature. 2006.

Aers, D. "The Testimony of William Thorpe: Reflections on Self, Sin and Salvation." Studies in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Texts in Honor of John Scattergood. Ed. AMD Arcy and AJ Fletcher. Four Courts Press, LTD., 2005. 21-34.

Aers, D. "Walter Brut’s Theology of the Sacrament of the Altar." Lollards and Their Influence in Late Medieval England. Ed. F Somerset, J Havens, and D Pitard. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003. 115-126.

Aers, D. "Practices of growing old in the Middle Ages." The Christian Practice of Growing Old. Ed. S Hauerwas. Eerdmans, 2003.

Aers, D. "The Sacrament of the Altar in Piers Plowman and the Late Medieval Church in England." Images, Idolatry, and Iconoclasm in Late Medieval England. Ed. J Dimmick, J Simpson, and N Zeeman. Oxford UP, 2002.

Aers, D. "Chaucer’s Tale of Melebee: Whose Virtues?." Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry: Essays in Honor of Derek Pearsall. Ed. D Aers. Brewer, 2000.

Beckwith, S. "Absent Presences: Resurrection Theatre in York." Festschrift for Derek Pearsall. Ed. D Aers, B Woodbridge, and Brewer. 2000.


Aers, D, and Beckwith, S. "Conversions." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 48.3 (September 1, 2018): 433-434. Full Text

Aers, D, and Leo, R. "Unintended Reformations?." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 46.3 (September 1, 2016): 455-483. (Review) Full Text

Aers, D. "Langland on the Church and the End of the Cardinal Virtues." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 42.1 (January 1, 2012): 59-81. Full Text

Aers, D, and Smith, N. "English reformations." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 40.3 (September 1, 2010): 425-438. (Review) Full Text Open Access Copy

Aers, D, and Smith, N. "English Reformations: Historiography, Theology, and Narrative." Ed. D Aers and N Smith. JMEMS 40 (2010). (Introduction)

Aers, D. "This is my body. The presence of Christ in Reformation thought." JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY 60.2 (April 2009): 368-368. Full Text

Aers, D. "Salvation and sin: Augustine, Langland, and fourteenth-century theology." Salvation and Sin: Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth Century Theology (2009): 1-284.

Aers, D, and Beckwith, S. "Reform and cultural revolution: Introduction." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 35.1 (January 1, 2005): 3-12. (Review) Full Text

Aers, D. "Wyclif, Poverty and the Poor." Yearbook of Langland Studies 17 (2003): 55-72.


Aers, D, and Beckwith, S. "The fortunes of tragedy." January 1, 2019. Full Text