Michael D. Bailey


Dept:World Languages And Cultures
Office:649 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA


I am a historian of the European Middle Ages, having received my PhD from Northwestern University in 1998. My research focuses on late medieval religious history, particularly the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstition, as well as heresy and religious reform. I also study the history of magic globally from antiquity to the present day.

I have written five books, including most recently Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies: The Boundaries of Superstition in Late Medieval Europe, published by Cornell University Press in 2013, and Magic: The Basics published by Routledge in 2018. I have edited or co-edited two books, and I serve as an associate editor of the interdisciplinary journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, which I helped to found in 2006.

Over the course of my career I have held Fulbright, DAAD, and Humboldt fellowships abroad, as well as a Mellon Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and a Solmsen Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My current work explores skepticism and disbelief about magic in medieval Europe and more broadly examines various forms of perceived religious falsity.