Jenna Phillips is a medieval historian specializing in the social and cultural history of France and Italy. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University, and was the recipient of the Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, and at the Huntington Library.
Her forthcoming book, Seductions of War and the Dream of Solace in Thirteenth-Century France, asks how medieval society supported veteran crusaders returning home. It investigates the place of music in bringing relief—in their word, solace—to warriors suffering from the physical and moral toll of combat. Scholars of military history and of the history of emotions have asked whether the ‘emotional communities’ of medieval warriors can be recovered, given the limitations of records that were often written by clerics rather than by soldiers. Seductions of War brings new data to these questions by drawing on musical and vernacular sources that have traditionally been overlooked by historians. Reading the lyrics composed by veteran knights (milites) against other medieval sources suggests that people were willing to say things with music that they hesitated to express by other means. Their songs offer a revelatory perspective on the impact of battle within communities, and its transformative effect on the warrior’s character.
Jenna has also published on a rediscovered singer's manuscript dating from thirteenth-century France, on Boccaccio in quarantine, on workers' revolts in the wake of pandemics, and on the late-medieval real estate market in Venice. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Medieval History, Speculum, Marginalia: Los Angeles Review of Books, The Journal of the History of Ideas Blog, and elsewhere. With William Chester Jordan, she edited The Capetian Century, 1214-1314, (Brepols, 2017). She serves as an editor for H-France review.
Jenna is a native of Berkeley, and received her B.A. at the University of California at Berkeley, and studied medieval English at Oxford University. She plays the violin and guitar.