Constance H. Berman

Connie Berman
Professor Emerita
Medieval Social, Economic, Religious, and Women's History (France and Italy)

Constance Berman developed an interest in medieval history at Carleton College in Minnesota and did her graduate work at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she was admitted into the research seminar of the late David J. Herlihy. In her first book, Medieval Agriculture (1986) she argued that the contributions to medieval economic growth of the Cistercians (a monastic reform group of the twelfth century) were as entrepreneurs who reorganized the landscape rather than pioneers; this changed what historians expect to find in investigating Cistercian economies in medieval Europe. Her second monograph The Cistercian Evolution (2000), did something of the same for the organizational aspects of the Order. Berman’s concern about undergraduate teaching has led to two books, Medieval Religion: New Approaches (2005) and Women and Monasticism in Medieval Europe (2002), and she completed "Secular Women in the Documents for Late Medieval Religious Women," Church History and Religious Culture 4:88 (2008), edited with Michelle Herder, which appears as well as a stand-alone book from Brill. She is in the process of finishing up The White Nuns: Cistercian Abbeys for Women and their Property, the edition of an account book "Achatz d' heritages: the Account Book of Blanche of Castile for the Abbey of Maubuisson," which will appear in Studies in Cistercian Art and Architecture, and a book on Women’s Work and Economic Development in Medieval Europe, 1050-1250 AD, for which she received initial support from a University of Iowa May Brodbeck Fellowship in the Humanities in 2000 as well as an NEH and Guggenheim Fellowship. She has contributed to the AHA efforts to evaluate graduate and undergraduate history programs as one of the committee that contributed to The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century (Champagne: University of Illinois Press, 2003), Thomas Bender, Philip M. Katz, Colin Palmer, and committee members, and of the working group for the recent AHA/national History Center/Teagle Foundation report, The History Major and Undergraduate Liberal Education (2008). Berman is currently a Collegiate Fellow in our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a Councilor of the Medieval Academy America, and a board member for Matrix, the online database for medieval religious women and communities.  Professor Berman is not taking additional doctoral students at this time.


Her teaching covers a broad range of topics in medieval history for both graduates and undergraduates. Courses recently taught include:

  • HIST:4408  The Twelfth Century Renaissance
  • HIST:3410  Medieval Civilization
  • HIST:4411  Economic & Social History of Medieval Europe
  • HIST:4412  History of Medieval Church
  • HIST:7411  Readings in Medieval Woman
  • HIST:7412  Source Criticism for Medieval Studies
Awards & Service: 
  • Collegiate Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Iowa (2006-10)
  • Member of working group for the recent American Historical Association/National History Center/Teagle Foundation Report, The History Major and Undergraduate Liberal Education (2008)
  • Iowa Regents' Award for Faculty Excellence (2005)
  • Camargo Foundation, Residential Fellowship (fall 2005)
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for Research (received 2004, taken calendar year 2005)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers (2003-04)
  • University Study Abroad Consortium, FIDA award for study in Turin, Italy (2001); teaching in Turin (summer 2006)
  • American Historical Association, Graduate Education Committee (2000-03); (The committee published The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century (Champagne, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003), authored by Thomas Bender, Philip M. Katz, Colin Palmer, and members of the committee.)
  • Graduate Council, University of Iowa (2000-02)
  • American Historical Association, Herbert Baxter Adams Prize Committee (1999- 2002)
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, History, University of Iowa (1999-2001)
  • May Brodbeck Fellow in the Humanities, University of Iowa (1999)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, American Academy in Rome (1999)
  • Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant, University of Iowa (1998)
  • The Medieval Review (on line): Editorial Board (1998-2003)
  • Faculty Senate, University of Iowa (1998-2004)
  • American Catholic History Association, Executive Council (1997-2000); Nominating Committee (1990-92, 2002-04)
  • "Women and Power Research Seminar," Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest (1994-95)
  • Norwest Summer Teaching Fellow, University of Iowa Center for Teaching (1996)
  • CIFRE Humanities Fellowship, University of Iowa (summer 1995)
  • Clare Hall, Cambridge, England, Visiting Fellow (1994-95); elected to Life Membership (1995)
  • Faculty Scholar Award, University of Iowa (1993-96)
  • Matrix: Medieval Women's Religious Lives and Communities, advisory board (1993-date)
  • Research Council, University of Iowa (1992-98)
  • Assistant Chair (Director Graduate Studies), History, University of Iowa (1992-94)
  • National Gallery of Art, Center for the Advanced Study of the Visual Arts, Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellow (1989)
  • American Historical Association Bernadotte Schmitt Grant for European Research (1989)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers (1988)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Institute in the French Archival Sciences, Folger Library (1984)
  • American Council of Learned Societies Grant-in-Aid (1983)
  • American Numismatic Society Summer Seminar (1982)
  • American Philosophical Society Grant (1981)