Research Stream

Constant Mews

Constant Mews is an Associate Investigator with the Centre for the History of Emotions. He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History at the University of Auckland, and his D.Phil. at Oxford University in 1980, on the development of the Theologia of Peter Abelard. While teaching at the Université de Paris III (1980‒1985), he studied at the Ve section (sciences religieuses) of the Ecole pratique des hautes études in Paris, under Jean Jolivet. He then spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Sheffield, working on completing a critical edition of Abelard’s theological writings under the direction of Professor David Luscombe. He has been at Monash University since 1987, and Director of its Centre for Religious Studies since 2002. His major research is into medieval philosophical, ethical and religious thought, as exemplified by Peter Abelard and Heloise, Hildegard of Bingen and their contemporaries, looking at the evolution of theology and its relationship to non-scholastic modes of thinking and feeling. His research interests stretch from religious life in early medieval Ireland to late medieval France, with particular attention to writings addressed to women, as well as those of Christine de Pizan. He works with medieval musicologists on the intersection between liturgy, music theory, philosophy and religious thought, with attention to the way music was understood as affecting the emotions.

Monash University profile


2012‒2016 Liturgy, Materiality and the Senses

Relevant Publications


Constant J. Mews. The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard: Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France (New York: Palgrave, 1999); published in paperback 2000; translated into French with a supplementary Postface, reviewing debate about the Epistolae duorum amantium since 1999, as La voix d’Héloïse. Un dialogue de deux amants, trans. Emilie Champs, Vestigia, Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg; Paris: Editions du Cerf, 2005); 2nd revised edition, with additional chapter, ‘New Discoveries and Insights 1999‒2007’. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Constant J. Mews, John N. Crossley, Carol Williams, Catherine Jeffreys and Leigh McKinnon, eds and trans. Johannes de Grocheio, Ars musice, TEAMS. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2011.

Edited books

Karen Green and C. J. Mews, eds. Virtue Ethics for Women 1250‒1500. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011*

Constant J. Mews and John N. Crossley, eds. Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe 1100‒1500, Europa Sacra. Turnhout: Brepols, 2011.*

Constant J. Mews and Anna Welch, eds. Poverty and Devotion in Mendicant Cultures 1200‒1450. London: Routledge, 2016.

Refereed Articles

Constant J. Mews. ‘Abelard and Heloise: Logic, Love, and Desire,’ Analysis. Australian Centre for Pyschoanalysis in the Freudian Field 9 (2000): 37‒57.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Heloise and Liturgical Experience at the Paraclete’, Plainsong and Medieval Music 11.1 (2002): 25‒35.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard and Heloise on the definition of love’. Revista portuguesa de filosofia 60 (2004): 633‒60.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Desire in the Song of Songs, Lacan, and the responses of Heloise and Abelard’, Analysis (Australian Centre for Pyschoanalysis in the Freudian Field) 14 (2008), 127‒146.

Constant J. Mews, Catherine Jeffreys, Leigh McKinnon, Carol Williams and John N. Crossley. ‘Guy of Saint-Denis and the Compilation of Texts about Music in London, British Library, Harl. MS. 281’. Electronic British Library Journal (2008), art 6, 1‒34.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Discussing Love: The Epistolae duorum amantium and Abelard’s Sic et Non’, Journal of Medieval Latin 19 (2009): 130‒47.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Singing the Song of Songs at the Paraclete: Abelard, Heloise, and Gregory the Great on Mary Magdalen as Lover and Bride’. Cîteaux 59 (2008): 299‒313.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Liturgists and Dance in the Twelfth Century: The Witness of John Beleth and Sicard of Cremona’. Church History 78.3 (2009): 512‒48.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Gregory the Great, the Rule of Benedict and Roman liturgy: the evolution of a legend’. Journal of Medieval History 37 (2011): 125‒44.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena: Emotion, devotion and mendicant spiritualties in the late fourteenth century’. Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures 1.2 (2012): 235‒52.

Constant J. Mews, John N. Crossley and Carol Williams. 'Guy of St Denis on the Tones: Thinking about Chant for Saint-Denis c.1300'. Journal of Plainsong and Medieval Music 23.2 (2014): 151‒76.

Constant J. Mews and Tomas Zahora. ‘Remembering Last Things and Regulating Behavior: From the De consideratione novissimorum to the Speculum morale Speculum 90.4 (Oct, 2015): 960‒94.

Constant J. Mews and Carol Williams. ‘Ancients and Moderns in Medieval Music Theory: from Guido of Arezzo to Jacobus’. Intellectual History Review [invited 9.6.2015]

Book chapters

Constant J. Mews. ‘Intoxication and the Song of Songs: Bernard of Clairvaux and the Rediscovery of Origen in the Twelfth Century’. In Pleasure in the Middle Ages, edited by N. Cohen-Hanegbi and P. Nagy, pp. 329–52. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2018.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Liturgy and Identity at the Paraclete: Heloise, Abelard and the Evolution of the Cistercian Reform’ and ‘Liturgy and Monastic Observance in Practice at the Paraclete’.  In The Poetic and Musical Legacy of Heloise and Abelard, edited by Marc Stewart and David Wulstan, pp. 19‒33, 100‒12 and p.143 in chapter 10. PMMS, Westhumble, Surrey, 2003.

Constant J. Mews. 'Abelard, Heloise, and Discussion of Love in the Twelfth-Century Schools'.  In Rethinking Peter Abelard. A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by B.S. Hellemans, pp. 11‒36. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Male-Female Spiritual Partnership in the twelfth century: the witness of Abelard and Heloise, Volmar and Hildegard'. In Hildegards von Bingen Menschenbild und Kirchenverständnis heute, edited by Rainer Berndt and Maura Zatonyi, pp. 167‒186. Erudiri Sapientia 12. Münster: Aschendorff, 2015.

Constant J. Mews and Carol Williams. ‘Music, Dance and the Emotions 350-1300’. In A Cultural History of Emotions, Volume 2 (The Medieval World), edited by Juanita Ruys. Bloomsbury, forthcoming.

Constant J. Mews. 'Intoxication and the Song of Songs: Bernard of Clairvaux and the Rediscovery of Origen in the Twelfth Century'. In The Medieval Book of Pleasure, edited by Piroska Nagy and Naama Cohen. Turnhout: Brepols, 2016, forthcoming.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Apostolic ideals in the mendicant transformation of the thirteenth century: From sine proprio to holy poverty’. In Poverty and Devotion in Mendicant Cultures 1200‒1450, edited by Constant J. Mews and Anna Welch, pp. 13‒31. London: Routledge 2016.

Constant J. Mews. ‘Catherine of Siena, Florence, and Dominican Renewal: Preaching through Letters’.  In Studies on Florence and the Italian Renaissance in Honour of F.W. Kent, edited by Peter Howard and Cecilia Hewlett, pp. 387‒403. Turnhout: Brepols, 2016.