David Gary Shaw is an historian of medieval England, of Britain, of people as managers of meaning and identity in their inevitable social context. He also studies the theory and philosophy of history. He is currently Professor of History and Medieval Studies. From July 2015, he has served as chair of the Department of History. Previously, he also was Dean of the Social Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Programs, as well as having a previous term a department chair.
A graduate of McGill University in Montreal in history and philosophy (1986), he received his doctorate from Oxford University, while supported by a Commonwealth Scholarship (1990). He was a member of Balliol College. He joined the faculty of Wesleyan University in 1990 and has taught there ever since. His teaching specialties are the Middle Ages, historiography, the history of Great Britain, and the theory of history. Past teaching themes have included ways of thinking and believing, examined through the study of religion, magic, and witchcraft and some intellectual history.
His first book, The Creation of a Community. The City of Wells in the Middle Ages, was published by Oxford University Press in 1993. In 1996, he joined the journal History and Theory as an Associate Editor. He has edited themes issues of that journal on The Return of Science. Evolution, History, and Theory (1999), with Philip Pomper; Agency after Postmodernism (2001); Religion and History (2006); and Does History Need Animals? (2013). In 2005 he published Necessary Conjunctions: The Social Self in Medieval England (Palgrave-Macmillan). His current research interests include the circulation of people, things, animals, and ideas in later medieval England and he hopes to do future work on the subject of animals in history.