VIDEO: Alumni Interview with Rachel Koopmans (Ph.D. '01)

Author: Gabriel Parlin

"I decided I wanted to do miracle stories, first because they tell us so much about ordinary people, and I found that very appealing. You get the entire spectrum of medieval society," says Rachel Koopmans, a faculty member at York University and an alumna of the Medieval Institute, as she looks back at the start of her career. "The other reason I thought it would be fun to study them is that they always—or almost always—have a happy ending!"

Koopmans also highlighted how her time at the Medieval Institute helped her expand into to the study of stained glass, which was a new area for her at the time but which is now one of her research specialties. "I really did not know what I was doing [with stained glass] at that point. But certainly the kind of stretching that I got here at the [Medieval] Institute was really critical for me to have the confidence later to be able to do that as my career progressed."

Dr. Rachel Koopmans (Ph.D. '01) is Associate Professor of History at York University in Toronto, Canada and Associate Fellow of Toronto’s Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. She received her PhD from the Medieval Institute of the University of Notre Dame in 2001. She has written an award-winning book on medieval collections of miracle stories, and is currently engaged in a new study of the Thomas Becket “miracle windows” of Canterbury Cathedral in conjunction with the cathedral's stained glass conservation studio.