Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

December 17, 2003

Whitworth Professor Examines the Crusades in New Book

Centuries ago, major conflicts between Muslims and Christians during the crusades altered the religious environment of Europe. In her newest book, Historical Dictionary of the Crusades, (2003, Scarecrow Press) Whitworth Professor of Politics and History Corliss Slack identifies and defines the key people, places, events, battles, fighting techniques, politics and cultures of that time period.

The Historical Dictionary of the Crusades is the 25th installment of the series Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest, edited by Jon Woronoff. Other books in the series cover topics including the major wars in United States history, the Holocaust, the Cold War, branches of the United States military, and several foreign wars. "The main purpose of the series is to focus attention on war and civil unrest as a key component of human history," Slack says.

"War is basic to human history," according to Slack. "It's a context in which people's ethics are tested. The implications of their religious beliefs become clear. That means it's a natural interest for historians, but also for Christian scholars."

Slack believes that the current situation in the Middle East was created by the outcome of 19th-century colonialism, and by the United States' support for Europe's goals in World Wars I and II, rather than by conflict between Muslims and Christians.

"Consequently, I tried in the dictionary to show how the crusades arose from conditions and political alliances specific to the 11th century," Slack says.

In her first book, Crusade Charters, 1138-1275 (2001, Arizona State University), Slack examined the documents of departing crusaders to better understand why they chose to participate in religious war.

Slack's research and writing focus on the crusades, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and 12th-century church reform. She has presented her research at medieval-studies conferences and has published in scholarly journals in her field. In 1994 her research was supported by a grant from the Graves Foundation. In 1991 she received the first-ever Whitworth Dean's Award for Junior Faculty Achievement.

Slack teaches European history at Whitworth and every other Jan Term she teaches a seminar on the crusades, which covers both sides of the conflict and includes Muslim sources. This year she is offering a seminar on research methods which allows students to choose their own project. She also teaches courses on a variety of European topics, including medieval Russia and recent scholarship on gender, race and class in Western European society. Slack earned her doctorate in history from Oxford University in 1988.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Corliss Slack, professor of politics and history, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4366 or cslack@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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