Michael Bailey

Interim Department Chair & Professor of History


Dept:World Languages And Cultures
Office:3102b Pearson

Area of expertise: Medieval European History


Michael Bailey is a historian of the European Middle Ages (PhD Northwestern University, 1998). His research focuses on the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstition, as well as heresy and religious reform, especially in the late medieval period. He has also published on the history of magic globally. His current research explores skepticism and disbelief about magic in medieval Europe. At Iowa State, Bailey has served as interim chair for the Department of History, interim director for the Center for Excellence in Arts and Humanities, and now interim chair for the Department of World Languages and Cultures. He has also served on Faculty Senate, on the Graduate Council, and as a longtime DOGE in the Department of History. Bailey is currently on the editorial board of Speculum, the journal of the Medieval Academy of America. He was also a founding editor and is currently an associate editor of the interdisciplinary journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft.

Grants and Awards

  • ISU Regents Award for Faculty Excellence (2021)

  • LAS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching (2015)

  • LAS Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching (2011)

  • Solmsen Fellowship, Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin (2010/11)

  • Humboldt Research Fellowship, Germany (2007)

Recent / Major Publications


  • Origins of the Witches’ Sabbath (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2021)

  • Magic: The Basics (London: Routledge, 2018)

  • Late Medieval Heresy: New Perspectives, co-edited with Sean L. Field (York: York Medieval Press, 2018)

  • Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies: The Boundaries of Superstition in Late Medieval Europe (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2013)

  • Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007)

  • Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003)

Recent Articles/Chapters:

  • “‘So that the Errors of Magicians and Witches Might be Made Evident to Ignorant People’: An Early European Witchcraft Treatise from the 1430s,” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 16 (2021): 201-28

  • “Muslims in Medieval Inquisitorial Thought: Nicolau Eymeric and His Contexts,” Church History 90 (2021): 1-20

  • “Magic and Disbelief in Carolingian Lyon,” Civilizations of the Supernatural: Witchcraft, Ritual, and Religious Experience in Late Antique, Medieval, and Renaissance Traditions, ed. Fabrizio Conti (Budapest: Trivent Publishing, 2020), 177-202

  • “Witchcraft and Demonology in the Middle Ages,” in The Routledge History of Witchcraft, ed. Johannes Dillinger (London: Routledge, 2020), 46-60

  • “Was Magic a Religious Movement?” in The Sacred and the Sinister: Studies in Medieval Religion and Magic, ed. David J. Collins (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2019), 143-62

  • “Superstition and Sorcery,” in The Routledge History of Medieval Magic, ed. Sophie Page and Catherine Rider (London: Routledge, 2019), 487-501