Hester Gelber | Curriculum Vitae

Department of Religious Studies
Building 70, Room 72K
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-2165
Telephone:  (650) 723-0472
Email:  hgelber@stanford.edu


Cornell University:  B.A. History (medieval focus), 1965
University of Wisconsin-Madison:  M.A. Medieval History, 1967
University of Wisconsin-Madison:  Ph.D. Medieval History, 1974
Masters thesis:  “The Humanist as Bureaucrat:  Humanism at the Curia under Martin V.”  Advisor:  Kenneth M. Setton
Ph.D. Dissertation:  “Logic and the Trinity:  A Clash of Values in Scholastic Thought, 1300-1335.”  Advisor:  William J. Courteny.

Current Position

Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University, 2006 to the present
Chair, Department of Religious Studies, 2010-2013

Previous Professional History

T.A., Integrated Liberal Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1966-68
Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1968-1969
Lecturer, University of Santa Clara, History Department, 1974
Lecturer, Stanford University, Philosophy Department, 1978-1982
Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, 1982-1990
Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, 1990-2006

Fellowships and Awards

Ford Foundation Fellowship; 1967, 1968
Pew Foundation Grant, summer 1985
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1985-1986
Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship, 1988-1989, and 2004-2005
Coglan Fellow in Religious Studies, 1990-1992
University Medal, University of Helsinki, January, 1994
John and Lydia Pearce Mitchell University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, 2004-2009, renewed 2009-2014 (Bass Fellow)
Hoagland Award (with Jennifer Summit and Philippe Buc) to develop new Crusades course, 2007-2008

Current Professional Memberships

American Philosophical Association
American Cusanus Society
Medieval Academy of America
Medieval Association of the Pacific
American Academy of Religion
Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy



Exploring the Boundaries of Reason:  Three Questions on the Nature of God by Robert Holcot, O.P., Studies and Texts 62 (Toronto:  Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1983)

Seeing the Future Clearly:  Quodlibetal Questions on Future Contingents by Robert Holcot, co-editor with William J. Courtenay. Principal editors:  Paul A. Streveler and Katherine Tachau. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995)

It Could Have Been Otherwise:  Contingency and Necessity in Dominican Theology at Oxford, 1300-1350 (Leiden: Brill, 2004).


“I Cannot Tell a Lie:  Hugh Lawton”s Critique of Ockham on Mental Language,”  Franciscan Studies 44 (1984):  141-179

“A Theater of Virtue:  The Exemplary World of St. Francis of Assisi,” in Saints and Virtues, ed. John Stratton Hawley (Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1987), 15-35

“The Fallacy of Accident and the Dictum de omni:  Late Medieval Controversy over a Riciprocal Pair,” Vivarium 25:2 (November,  1987): 110-145

“Ockham’s Early Influence:  A Question about Predestination and Foreknowledge by Arnold of Strelley, OP,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge 55 (1988):  255-289

“Eternal Questions–The Domincan Hugh of Lawton on the Eternity of the World,” in Knowledge and the Sciences in Medieval Philosophy, Proceedings of the Eighth   International Congress of Medieval Philosophy, vol. 3 (Helsinki, 1990), 71-78

“Revisiting the Theater of Virtue,” Franciscan Studies 58 (2000): 19-36.

“Robert Holkot [Holcot],” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (July, 2001), http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/holkot/ (The librarians journal The Charleston Advisor, gave SEP the award for Best Content in its annual “Readers Choice” awards.)

“Robert Holkot,” Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed. (Farmington Hills, MI:  Thomson Gale, 2005).

“Providence,” Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy, ed. Robert Pasnau  vol. II (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2010): 761-772

“Blackfriars London:  The Late Medieval Studium,” in Philosophy and Theology in the ‘Studia’ of the Religious Orders and at Papal and Royal Courts, ed. Kent Emery, Jr., William J. Courtenay, and Stephen M. Metzger, Acts of the xvth Annual Colloquium of the Société International pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Mediévale, University of Notre Dame, 8-10 October, 2008 (Turnhout, Belgium:  Brepols, 2012): 165-180.

“Robert Holcot, Obligational Theology and the Incarnation,” in Utrum, Igitur etc., ed. William O. Duba, Russell L. Friedman and Chris Schabel, proofed and forthcoming

“Laughter and Deception:  Holcot and Chaucer Stay Cheerful,” in Uncertain Knowledge, ed. Mishtooni Bose, Rita Copeland, Dallas Denery, Kantik Ghosh, and Nicolette Zeeman  (Brepols, forthcoming)

Book reviews

Andre Goddú, The Physics of William of Ockham, in Journal of the History of Philosophy 25 (April, 1987):  294-296

Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast:  The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, in Modern Language Quarterly 48 (September, 1987):  281-285

Marilyn McCord Adams, William Ockham, 2 vols. in Faith and Philosophy 7 (April, 1990):  246-252

Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge, in Speculum 69 (January, 1994):  280-281

M. J. F. M. Hoenen, Marsilius of Inghen:  Divine Knowledge in Late Medieval Thought, in Speculum 71 (April, 1996):  433-435

Maryanne Cline Horowitz, Seeds of Virtue and Knowledge, in Speculum 77 (2002):  557-558

Caroline Walker Bynum, Metamorphosis and Identity, in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 70/4 (2002)

Walter Burley, On the Purity of the Art of Logic:  the Shorter and the Longer Treatises, trans. Paul Vincent Spade, Speculum (October, 2003):  1258-1259

Paul Thom, Medieval Modal Systems:  Problems and Concepts, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 88 (2006):  232-236

Papers Presented

“Robert Holcot and the Problem of ‘Left -Wing Nominalism,'” Northern California Renaissance

Conference, Santa Clara (May, 1973)

“Haven for a Theological Outcast:  The Centiloquium theologicum on God’s Omnipotence,” tenth Conference on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May, 1975)

“Ockham’s Ethics,” Stanford Philosophy Colloquim (April, 1979)

“The Early Social HIstory of the Cathedral,” University of California-Berkeley Extension Program:  “Cathedral, Its History and Its Place in the Late Twentieth Century” (March, 1980)

“Francis of Assisi’s Conversion Experience,” Stanford Religious Studies Colloquium (November, 1982)

“The Fallacy of Accident, Accidental Fallacies and Other Abstractions,” Conference on Medieval Philosophy and Science-Pomona College (April, 1983)

“Future Contingents and Truth in the View of Some Oxford Dominicans:  Arnold of Strelley, William Crathorn, and Robert Holcot,” fifteenth International Conference on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May, 1984)

“Francis of Assisi:  A Psychological Interpretation of an Exemplary Self,” American Society of Church History (December, 1984)

“The Contingencies of Propositions as Contingent Facts in William Crathorn and Robert Holcot,” The American Philosophical Association–Pacific Division Conference (March, 1985)

“Finding Faces for Dominicans:  Theology at Blackfriars in the Time of William of Ockham,” sixteenth International Conference on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May, 1985)

“The Contingencies of Propositions as Contingent Facts:  The Domicans William Crathorn and Robert Holcot,” Religious Studies Colloquium, Stanford (May, 1985)

“I Cannot Tell a Lie:  Hugh Lawton’s Critique of Ockham on Mental Language,” International Colloquium on the Thought and Writings of Willliam of Ockham, The Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University (October, 1985)

“Power and Maternity:  Feminine Imagery in Medieval Christianity,” Jing Lyman Lecture, Stanford University (February, 1986)

“Modern Trends in Medieval Historiography:  Data Analysis, Case Studies, Psychological and Anthropological Modeling,” panel participant CARA session, Medieval Academy, Albequerque (April, 1988)

“The Limits of Lying:  Fourteenth-Century Dominican Theories of Lying,” Medieval Academy, Toronto (April, 1987)

“Eternal Questions–Oxford Domicans on the Eternity of the World from 1310-1335,” Société International pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Mediévale, Helsinki (August, 1987)

“Late Medieval Views on Mental Language,” Stanford Medieval Studies Workshop (May, 1988)

“The Limits of Lying,” University of California-Berkeley Medieval Studies lecture (February, 1989)

“It Could Have Been Otherwise:  Oxford Dominicans on Contingency–1310-1335,” a four hour lecture series presented at the Università degli studi di Milano (April, 1989)

“Theology De Obligationibus:  Modal Theory and Theology among the Dominicans at Oxford–1325-1335,” presented at the Università degli studi di Pisa (April, 1989)

“Dominican Nominalistae and the Ars obligatoria at Oxford, 1325-1335,” 24th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May, 1989) (Solicited at the last minute–not in the published program.)

Obligatio Form and its Influence on Theology in the Fourteenth Century,” The Boston Colloquium in Medieval Philosophy, Boston College (March, 1990)

“Induction and the Emergence of Probability–Almost,” presented to the Philosophy Department, Ohio State University (April, 1990)

“The Ars Obligatoria and Theories of the Incarnation,” 25th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May, 1990)

“The Virgin Mary in Medieval Moral Mythology,” Colloquium for Religious Studies Department (December, 1990)

Commentator:  “God’s Presence–Some Cusan Proposals,” by Clyde Lee Miller, American Philosophical Association–Pacific Division (March, 1991)

“Miscalculating the Calculators:  Some Mertonians and the Merton Thesis,” History of Science Society (November, 1991)

“The Obedience that Binds in Late Medieval Thought,” American Philosophical Association–Eastern Division, Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (December, 1992)

“Logic and the Trinity in Late Medieval Theology,” Keynote address for Conference on Logic and Theology in the Late Middle Ages at the University of Helsinki (January, 1994)

Commentator:  “The Logical Structure of Scotus’ Formal Distinction,” by Allan Bäck. American Philosophical Association–Central Division (1995)

“Cultural Evolution in Medieval Europe–1100-1400,” conference on “The Theory of Cultural Evolution,” (August, 1997)

“To Be or Not to Be:  Fourteenth-Century English Reflections on Perplexity of Conscience,” American Philosophical Association–Eastern Division, Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (December, 1997)

“Revisiting the Theater of Virtue,” The Franciscan School of Theology, April 7, 2000.  Address to a conference celebrating the publication of Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, April 6-7, 2000

“Experiencing Medieval Childhood and Why it Mattered,” for 2001-2002 Graduate Research Workshop:  “Images and Concepts of Childhood,” Stanford University, May 4, 2001

“With Justice and Mercy:  The Medieval Retributive Cosmos,” Stanford Humanities Center presentation to the fellows, February 1, 2005

“The Fate of Providence,” Toronto Colloquium in Mediaeval Philosophy, University of Toronto, September 22, 2006

Commentator at session for “Crossing boundaries at Medieval Universities: Intellectual moments, Academic Disciplines and Societal Conflict” conference, Madison, Wisconsin (May, 2008)

“Blackfriars London:  The Late Medieval Studium,” Société International pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Mediévale, Notre Dame, Indiana (October, 2008)

“Robert Holcot, Obligational Theology and Incarnation,” for “Medieval British Philosophy” conference held at Georgetown (March, 2009)

“Laughter and Deception:  Holcot and Chaucer Stay Cheerful,” for “Uncertain Knowledge” conference held at Kings College, Cambridge (April, 2011)

“Notre Dame and the Birth of the Retributive Cosmos,” for Humanities West conference on Notre Dame Cathedral held in San Francisco (November, 2011)

Courses Taught

Introduction to Humanities, team-taught
Self-Reflections:  The Examined Life
Finding Voices, Forging Selves
Introductory Medieval History
Western Culture-Middle Ages and Renaissance, team-taught
Medieval Culture, team-taught
Culture of the Renaissance
Introduction to Christianity
Christianity to the year 1000
History of Medieval and Renaissance Christianity
Sex, Body and Gender in Medieval Religion
Medieval Culture of England (Stanford Centre in Oxford)
Medieval and Renaissance Religious Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
Issues in Contemporary Ethics (dorm based course)
Global Focus Current Affairs (dorm based course)
Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Crusades, an experimental course team-taught with Jennifer Summit and Philippe Buc

Freshman seminars

Murder in the Cathedral
Francis of Assisi
Sophomore College Seminars
Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Just Who Are We?  Science Fiction and the Futuristic Self


Augustine of Hippo
Thomas Aquinas
Model Selves–Francis of Assisi
The Virgin Mary and Images of Power
Science and Religion
Origin of the Universities (Stanford Centre in Oxford)
Majors Seminar
Mystics and Mysticism
Continuing Studies Courses
Philosophy of Religion
Chaucer’s England
Masters in Liberal Arts Core Seminar:  Medieval Culture

Graduate seminars

Theories and Methods of Religion
Graduate Program in Humanities:  Roman and Early Christian Culture
Graduate Program in Humanities:  Medieval Culture
Mystics and Mysticism

Committee and Administrative Activities

For the profession

Member of the Council for the Medieval Association of the Pacific 1984-1987, and again 1996-1999
Member of the Council for the American Society of Church History 1990-93

For Stanford University

Individually Designed Major Committee, 1982-1984, 1990-1991, Chair, 1983-1984
Western Culture Program Committee, 1984-1985, 1986-1988
CIV Program Committee, 1988-1991
Stanford Humanities Center Advisory Board, 1998-1994, 2003-2006 with a hiatus during 2004-2005 while on leave and in residence at the Center, 2006-2009.
Stanford Humanities Center Supplementary Advisory Committee, 1990-1994
Committee on Medieval Studies, 1982-1985, 1989-1998, Chair, 1994-1995
Graduate Committee for Humanities Special Programs, 1990-1996
Mellon Fellow Postdoctoral Fellowship Selection Committee, 1989-1991, 1995-1996
Danforth-Compton Graduate Fellowship for Minorities Selection Committee, 1989-1991, Chair, 1990-1991
Senate Committee on Education and Scholarship at Stanford
Taskforce on Undergraduate Education at Stanford, 1991-1992
Ad-hoc Humanities Planning Group, 1991-1992
Faculty Resident Fellow–Twain House, 1991-1995
Advisory Committee for Continuing Studies, 1992-1994
Whiting, Lurcy and Danforth-Compton Graduate Fellowship Selection Committee, 1992-1993
University Grievance Officer, Spring, 1993
Faculty Senate, spring, 1993, 1993-1994, 2003-2004
Senate Steering Committee 2003-2004
Vice-chair of the Faculty Senate 2003-2004
Budget Advisory Group for Residential Education, Fall, 1993
Sub-Committee on the Calendar, Winter, 1994
Mabelle McLeod Lewis Graduate Fellowship Selection Committee, 1993-1995
Senate Committee on Academic Achievement and Appraisal (C-AAA), 1995-1996, Committee Chair, 1997-1999
Stanford Centre in Oxford, Fall, 1996
Sexual Harassment Advisor, 1997-2001
H & S 50th Anniversary Celebration Proposals–Selection Committee 1997-1998
The Institute for Research on Women & Gender—Fellows Selection Committee 1998-2000
Stanford Humanities Center Selection Committee, 1998-2000, 2002-2003, 2006-2007
Maryilyn Yalom Research Fund Selection Committee, 2000-2001
Senate Committee on Undergraduate Studies (C-US)
Committee Chair 2000-2002
C-US-C-USP Sub-Committee on General Education Requirements—chair 2000-2003
Undergraduate Advisory Council to the Vice-Provost on Undergraduate Education—ex-officio 2000-2002, 2007-2008
Area One Governing Board—ex-officio 2000-2002, 2007-2008
Stanford Judicial Affairs Faculty Panelist 2000-2002
Advisory Committee to the Master of Liberal Arts program 2001-2007
Stanford Sexual Harassment Policy Advisory Group 2001-2002
Awards Committee for the Arnice P. Streit Service of Excellence Award and the
H & S Dean’s Award of Merit for H & S staff 2001-2002
Director of Medieval Studies, 2001-2003
Faculty Associate Director, Overseas Studies Program, 2002-2004
Faculty Resident Fellow—Castaño, 2004-2008
Senate Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP), 2005-2008, 2011-2014, Chair, spring 2007, 2007-2008
Chair, Sub-Committee on Exceptions to Educational Policy, 2007-2008
Chair, Sub-Committee on General Education Requirements, 2007-2008, 2011-2012
Chair, Sub-Committee on ROTC 2011-2013
Ethical Reasoning Oversight Board, 2005-2013
Bing Overseas Studies Program Executive Committee, 2005-2009
School of Humanities and Sciences, Appointments and Promotions Committee, 2007-2008
Humanities and Sciences Chairs Steering Committee, 2007-2008
Senate Ad-hoc Committee on ROTC, 2010-11

For the Stanford Department of Religious Studies

Director of Department Colloquia, 1984-1985, 1994-1995
Director of Graduate Studies, 1986-1988, 1991-1993, 1997-2002, 2005-2006
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Winter 1995
Chair:  Search Committee for position in Hebrew Bible, 1990-1991
Chair:  Search Committee for position in Religious Ethics, 1995-1996
Chair:  Search Committee for position in Islamic Studies, 2005-2006
Department Chair, 2006-2009, 2010-2013
Chair, Search Committee for position in American Religion, 2008 [search cancelled at end of fall]

Work in Progress

Book project: With Justice and Mercy:  The Medieval Retributive Cosmos, 1100-1535.  Begun during year (2004-5) of leave at the Stanford Humanities Center as a new project.  Two  chapters drafted.