Joëlle Rollo-Koster


Joëlle Rollo-Koster was born and raised in the town of Toulon located on the southern French Mediterranean coast. She received her undergraduate degree and master’s degree in history from the University of Nice, France.

After moving to the United States, Professor Rollo-Koster enrolled at SUNY Binghamton where she studied with Richard C. Trexler, one of the founders of behaviorist history. Following her social science track, she earned her Ph.D. focusing on the social and demographic history of the papal city of Avignon, capital of Christianity between 1309-­‐1378. Her thesis, “The People of Curial Avignon: A Critical Edition of the Liber Divisionis and the lists of Matriculation of the Confraternity of Notre Dame la Majour,” analyzed three late medieval censuses where she collected data on some 8,000 individuals. This data framed her early research and publications.

Having studied total history, along with applied social scientific methodologies to text and documentation, Professor Rollo-Koster considers herself a social scientist, one who analyzes long-term effects, mentalities, demography, geography, economic conditions, etc.


  • Chevalier des Palmes Académiques (2016)
  • University of Rhode Island Research and Scholarship Excellence Award: Advanced Career Faculty, in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (2017)
  • EURIAS Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (2017-2018)
  • URI Foundation Scholarly Excellence Award (2018)
  • Fellow, Medieval Academy of America (2024)



  • the social/economic history of Avignon in the late Middle Ages
  • death rituals, medieval women, testament studies, and historical anthropology


  • State University of New York at Binghamton, Ph.D., 1992
  • University of Nice, France, M.A. 1982
  • University of Nice, France, Licence 1980
  • University of Nice, France, D.E.U.G. 1979

Selected Publications


Select Articles

  • “From Prostitutes to Virgin Brides of Christ: The Avignonese Repenties in the Late Middle Ages,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 32 (2002): 109-144 (Selected as the April Article of the Month for the Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index site at
  • “The Politics of Body Parts: Contested Topographies in Late Medieval Avignon,” Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 78 (January 2003): 66-98. (Winner of the Honorable Mention: William Koren Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies).
  • “Prostitutes.” In Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, ed. Margaret Schaus (New York and London: Routledge, 2006), 675-678.
  • “Civil Violence and the Initiation of the Schism.” In A Companion to the Great Western Schism (1378-1417), ed. Joëlle Rollo-Koster and Thomas Izbicki (Leiden: Brill, September 2009), 9-66.
  • “The Boundaries of Affection: Women and Property in Late Medieval Avignon.” In Across the Religious Divide: Women, Property, and Law in the Wider Mediterranean (ca. 1300-1800), ed. Shona Kelly Wray and Jutta Sperling (New York and London: Routledge, September 2009), 38-
  • “Body Politic.” In SAGE’S Encyclopedia of Political Theory, ed. Mark Bevir (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2010), vol. 1, 133-137.
  • Item Lego…Item Volo…Is there really an “I” in Medieval Women’s Testaments.” In For the Salvation of my Soul: Women and Wills in Medieval and Early Modern France, ed. Joëlle Rollo-Koster and Kathryn Reyerson (St. Andrews, UK: St. Andrews Studies in French History and Culture, August 2012), 3-24.
  • “The Politics of Sede Vacante and the Sack of Rome (1527).” In Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe, ed. Jonathan D. Davies (London: Ashgate, 2013), 41-60.
  • “Episcopal and Papal Vacancies: A Long History of Violence.” In Ecclesia & Violentia: Violence against the Church and Violence within the Church in the Middle Ages, ed. Radosław Kotecki and Jacek Maciejewski (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), 54-71.
  • “Avignon’s Capitalization and the Legitimation of Transiency.” In Images and Words in Exile: Avignon and Italy in the First Half of the Fourteenth Century (ca. 1310-1352), ed. Elisa Brilli, Laura Fenelli, and Gerhard Wolf (Florence, It.: SISMEL-Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2015), 259-269.
  • “Schism and Schismogenesis.” In Vocabulary for the Study of Religion (VSR), ed. Kocku von Stuckrad and Robert Segal (Leiden: Brill, 2015).
  • “Prostitutes,” in “Gender, Families, Communities, and Individuals,” ed. Ruth Mazo Karras, for The Routledge Medieval Encyclopedia Online (2017).
  • “Failed Ritual? Medieval Papal Funerals and the Death of Clement VI (1352),” for Histories of Post-Mortem Contagion: Infectious Corpses and Contested Burials, ed. Christos Lynteris and Nicholas Evans (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 27-53.
  • “Avignon Papacy.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation. ed. Margaret King (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • “The Great Western Schism, Legitimacy, and Tyrannicide: The Murder of Louis of Orleans (1407).” In On the Edge of Modernity: Studies in European Intellectual History in Honor of Thomas M. Izbicki. Edited by Bettina Koch and Cary J. Nederman. 193-211. Kalamazoo: Arc Humanities Press & Medieval Institute Publications, 2018.
  • “Rome during the Schism: The Long Carnival.” In La linea d’ombra: Roma 1378-1417. Edited by Walter Angelelli and Serena Romano Gosetti di Sturmeck. 41-52. Rome: Viella, 2019.
  • “Un ou deux corps? La mort du pape dans un cérémonial de la fin du Moyen Âge.” In Imago Papae: Le pape en image du moyen âge à l’époque contemporaine. Edited by Claudia D’Alberto (Rome: Campisano Editore, 2020), 131-139.
  • “Communicating Unity during the Great Western Schism (1378-1417): Pierre Ameil and Papal Funerals.” In ACTA (Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia) 31 (2020): 113-129.