Sara McDougall

Sara McDougall - Associate Professor -  profile photo

Research Interests

  • Medieval
  • Medieval law
  • cultural studies
  • gender studies
  • legal history


  • Ph.D., Yale University, 2009
  • M.A., Boston University
  • B.A., Boston University


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Sara McDougall is Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and appointed to the faculty in Biography and Memoir, French, History, and Medieval Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. She studies gender and justice in the Middle Ages, with a focus on women's encounters with legal and religious ideas in the society and culture of Medieval France. She is the author of two books, Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late-Medieval Champagne (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), and Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, c.800-1230 (Oxford, 2017). She has co-edited special issues for Law & History Review and Gender & History on historical responses infanticide and on marriage in global history, and a six-volume Global History of Crime and Punishment is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Press in 2023. Recent articles examine punishing women for having sex, infanticide prosecutions, consequences of extramarital pregnancy, illegitimacy and the priesthood, and adultery prosecution in medieval France, as well as other writings on the family, marriage, gender, and crime. She has also written on these topics for Slate, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

In 2023-2024 she will be a Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library (along with Prof. Brenda Wineapple of the M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir). In 2022 she was a visiting professor at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and an Astor Visiting Professor at Oxford University. She was also the Norman Freehling Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities in the winter of 2020. Other fellowships include the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and NYU Law School’s Golieb Legal History fellowship. She completed her doctorate in medieval history at Yale University in May 2009.


  • Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy c.800-c.1230, Oxford University Press, December 2016.
  • Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late-Medieval Champagne (University of Pennsylvania Press, March 2012).

Selected Articles

  • “À la recherche des enfants illégitimes dans les archives de l’officialité de Troyes au xve siècle. Un exemple atypique?” in Bâtards et bâtardises dans l’Europe médiévale et moderne, ed. Carole Avignon (Presses universitaires de Rennes 2016).
  • “Fiction and Lies: Adultery and Spousal Homicide Accusations in Fifteenth Century France" in Imagining Early Modern Histories, eds. Allison Kavey and Elizabeth Ketner (Ashgate, 2016).
  • “The Transformation of Adultery in France at the End of the Middle Ages,” Law and History Review 32:3 (August 2014).
  • “The Opposite of the Double Standard: Gender, Marriage, and Adultery Prosecution in Late Medieval France,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 23:2 (May 2014). 
  • “Women Before the Officiality of Troyes in the Fifteenth Century,” in Les officialités dans l'Europe médiévale et moderne: Des tribunaux pour une société chrétienne (Brepols, 2014).
  •  “The Making of Marriage in Medieval Europe,” Journal of Family History 38:3 (July 2013).
  •  “Women and Gender in Medieval Canon Law,” in the Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, eds. Ruth Karras and Judith Bennett (July 2013).

Editorial Projects

  • With the late Clive Emsley, A Global History of Crime and Punishment, 6 volumes. Bloomsbury Press (forthcoming, 2022).
  • With Felicity Turner, Forum: "Rethinking the Criminalization of Childbirth: Infanticide in Premodern Europe and the Modern Americas," Law & History Review 39:2 (May 2021).
  • with Sarah Pearsall, Gender & History Special Issue: Marriage's Global Past (November 2017).
  • with Thomas Barton, Susan McDonough, and Matthew Wranovix, Boundaries in the Medieval and Wider World. Festschrift in Honour of Paul Freedman, Europa Sacra 22 (Brepols, 2017).  
  • with John Witte and Anna di Robilant, Texts and Contexts in Legal History: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue, Robbins Collection, UC Berkeley (October 2016).

Recent Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

  • "Singlewomen and Illicit Pregnancy in Late Medieval France: The Case of Marie Ribou (1481)" French Historical Studies, 44:3 (August 2021).
  • "Pardoning Infanticide in Late Medieval France," Law & History Review 39:2 (May 2021). 
  • "The Chivalric Family" in Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages, eds. David Crouch and Jeroen Deploige, (Leuven University Press, 2020).
  • "Bastard Priests: Illegitimacy and Ordination in Medieval Europe," Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 94/1 (January 2019).
Sara McDougall - Associate Professor -  profile photo


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice