Dr. Shelley Wolbrink

Professor of History
History Department Chair
Director of Medieval Studies Program

Office: Burnham Hall, Room 306
Phone: (417) 873-7387
E-mail: swolbrin@drury.edu

Dr. Shelley Wolbrink teaches primarily in pre-modern European history. Her major field is the Middle Ages with minor areas in ancient history, renaissance and reformation history, and comparative women’s world history, including India. She has a special interest in social history and the lived experience of those in the distant past, as well as a reverence for primary sources. In addition to teaching survey courses like Medieval Europe, Renaissance and Reformation, and Women in European History, she teaches classes on Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe, Joan of Arc: Film and History, and the Social History of India. She frequently teaches Senior Seminar for graduating history majors, as well as Global Awareness and Cultural Diversity in the general education program.

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Wolbrink received her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1998, and was hired at Drury in that same year. Her research focuses on women and monasticism, particularly the Premonstratensian monasteries of Northwestern Germany. This religious order, founded by St. Norbert of Xanten, around 1121, has traditionally been seen as a male order that discriminated against women. Dr. Wolbrink’s dissertation, “Noble Pursuits: Family, Power, and Gender in the Premonstratensian Monasteries of Northwestern Germany, 1120-1250” (1998) revealed that over seventy-five percent of monasteries founded by the order in northwestern Germany were for women, largely from middling social backgrounds. Her article, “Women and the Premonstratensian Order in Germany, 1120-1250,” published in the July 2003 issue of the Catholic Historical Review enumerates the positive role that women played in the order. Her work on male monk-priests in women’s Premonstratensian monasteries is forthcoming in 2011 as: ”“Necessary Priests and Lay Brothers: Male-Female Cooperation in the Premonstratensian Monasteries of Meer and Füssenich, 1140-1255, ” in Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Men, Women, and the Religious Life in German Lands, 1100–1500 (edited by Fiona J. Griffiths and Julie Hotchin and published by Brepol press). 

Dr. Wolbrink served as the editor for the two-volume Encyclopedia of World Biography: The Middle Ages (Salem Press, 2005) and has published several encyclopedia entries and short essays on: Mary Ward; the Therigatha; Clovis; St. Benedict of Nursia; St. Angela of Foligno; Balthasar Hubmeier, and Pope Boniface VIII. Conference presentations have included: The American Historical Association, The International Congress of Medieval Studies; Conference on the History of Women Religious; the Midwest History Conference, and the Mid-America Conference of History. In 2009, she was invited by St. Norbert’s College, and the Institute of Norbertine Studies, to serve as convocation speaker during Heritage Days. This was a special opportunity to tour a modern Premonstratensian monastery in Wisconsin and to meet monks, brothers, and lay affiliates dedicated to the history of the order. 

Along with Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg, she has led numerous study abroad trips during the summer and winter terms to Greece, Rome, and Egypt.  Nothing enlivens history more than a visit to the places where gladiators fought, pharaohs were buried, and saints were revered.

Dr. Wolbrink currently serves as chair of the Medieval Studies program, a fifteen-hour multidisciplinary minor at Drury. In the past she has served as chair of the Division of Social Sciences and the Promotion and Tenure committee. She frequently serves as advisor for Phi Alpha Theta, the history honorary, and really enjoys working with students. Please drop by her office on the third floor of Burnham Hall for some pretty funny history cartoons, book and research advice, and visual images from the past, including a postcard of the well-preserved body of St. Margherita of Cortona, a thirteenth-century saint, currently residing in the local church.

B.A., Miami University (Ohio), 1991
M.A., University of Cincinnati, 1993
Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 1998

Drury University faculty member since 1998
Professor since 2010