Welcome to the Academic Home Page of
James R. Ginther, PhD
Professor of Medieval Theology,
and Departmental Chair
"Scripture is more excellent in the living mind than on dead parchment"
-Robert Grosseteste (1170-1253)
I came to Saint Louis University after teaching for seven years at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. I've been at SLU since 2002.
My research focuses on medieval scholastic theology and in particular the life and works of Robert Grosseteste (ca. 1170-1253). Since I am trained as a medievalist, I approach my work in a very interdisciplinary manner. I am interested in how theologians used natural philosophy and classical rhetoric to understand Scripture and develop theological arguments. I am also interested in how theological issues related to the "on the ground" experience of Christians. Recently, I completed a Handbook to Medieval Theology. I also published a digital edition of the early twelfth-century text, the Norman Anonymous (funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation). That text links to images of pages of the sole surviving manuscript. This project also has collaborating partners at Stanford University and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
My first major digital project was T-PEN: Transcription for Editorial and Paleographical Notation (t-pen.org). This digital tool, funded by the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, assists scholars who wish to transcribe and edit texts from digitized images of unpublished manuscripts. The project began in October 2010 and was completed by September 2012. My Co-PI is Dr Abigail Firey, a medieval historian at the University of Kentucky and we also partnered with Stanford University, John Hopkins University, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Waterloo University, and the Universities of Freibourg and Cologne. I began a critical edition of Robert Grossetete's Super Psalterium as one of the project's use cases.
In October 2012, we began working on the software development for the vHMML project which is being run by the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library of St John's University. They are designing educational and research programs to support manuscript studies on the web. Staff from the Center for Digital Humanities have been designing the software to enable online education and collaborative scholarship.
Then in January 2013, the Center began to work on a web-based tool to support collaborative critical editing of pre-modern texts. Funded by the Andre Mellon Foundation, Tradamus will support the five major editing methodologies in use by scholalry editors. The project will include editing projects from medievalists at Arizona State University; Indiana University, Bloomington; the University of York (UK); and Saint Louis University. This project builds upon T-PEN but will be using a new model for interoperability call the Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC). Active development began in April 2013 and will be complete by June 2015.
Over the years I have supervised doctoral dissertations in Byzantine theology, late antique monasticism, medieval exegesis, medieval preaching, and Carolingian theology. I welcome any interest in research projects in medieval theology.
For the last few years, most of my teaching has been at the doctoral level. I have taught seminars on Alexander of Hales and Sacramental Theology, Theology as a Science, Medieval Biblical Exegesis, and Robert Grosseteste and the English Bishops. At the undergraduate level, I have taught Theological Foundations, Christian Beliefs, the Medieval Christianity course and an upper division course on Anselm of Canterbury.
Anselm has become a secondary interest for me. I have now led two doctoral seminars about him. In Spring 2012, we read the Cur Deus homo. I plan to pursue a book project on Anselm, once the edition of Grossetesete's Super Psalterium is complete.
My departmental service from 2004 to 2008 was as Director of Graduate Studies. I am now Chair of the Department and the Director of the Center for Digital Humanities.