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Johnna L. Sturgeon, PhD

Historian | Manuscript Scholar | Wordsmith

". . . all the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books."
- Richard de Bury (1281-1345), Philobiblon

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Dr. Johnna Sturgeon is a manuscript scholar and historian of late medieval Europe, focusing on the interrelationships between ideas and the technologies of the written word. Before pursuing graduate studies, Johnna worked for a number of years in both the private and public sectors. Dr. Sturgeon embraces digital, and especially cloud-based, technologies that improve the ease and efficiency of research, writing, and collaboration. Johnna is a free culture advocate, contributing her skills and time to efforts like Distributed Proofreaders’ preservation of public domain texts. In graduate school, she discovered that teaching not only allows her to share her love of book history, but also to explore many of her interests that fall outside her research specialty. Johnna uses fiction, films, games, and technology to enliven classrooms and engage students as active learners. Dr. Sturgeon completed a PhD in Medieval & Early Modern European History at Northwestern University in March 2017 and is working on her first book while continuing to develop her technological and editing skills.

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Dr. Sturgeon's distinctive blend of broad background knowledge and expert communications skills make her ideal for supporting your publication. She can also serve your organization's needs for a speaker in her areas of specialization.

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Checking Text on a Document


Detect and correct errors in your text, including spelling, grammar, and citations. Specializing in academic writing and Chicago Manual of Style, but all texts welcome!

Overview of Courses Taught

History of the Book in Western Culture from Papyrus to Ebooks

Dr. Sturgeon has offered this advanced undergraduate course in two versions: once as a senior capstone research and writing course, and once as an upper division lecture and readings course with individual projects. The course traces the development of the physical forms of books, and how that development interacted with intellectual and cultural change. The geographic focus is Europe and North America, with brief excursions into non-Western book forms. The course includes hands-on work with rare books and manuscripts in a local or nearby Special Collections reading room. Students should successfully complete the European history or world history survey series before taking this course.

Medieval Europe 800-1300

This introductory lecture course analyzes the social, economic, and political transformation of Europe beginning during the rule of Charlemagne. Through primary-source readings, from letters to epic poetry, students encounter the unique cultural synthesis this transformation created.

European Civilization: High Medieval Through Mid-Eighteenth Century

Intended as the first or second course in a Western Civilization series, this introductory class surveys the major historical events of the period, like the print revolution, religious reformations, and Enlightenment. Through lectures and textbook readings, students learn an overarching historical narrative. Then, they use primary source readings to critically engage with that narrative.

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