J Michael Raley, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Joined Alma College Faculty in 2011
Office Hours: MTWRs 1:00–2:20 p.m., as well as other times by appointment.
Michael Raley grew up and attended schools in the Chicago area, but spent summers in rural southern Illinois. He attended Ridgewood High School in Norridge, Ill., ranked among the top ten nationally, where his teachers offered cutting-edge curricula in the liberal arts. At age 16, he performed with the American Youth Performs National Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, New York. Later, he studied music at Belmont University (B.M.) and the University of Louisville (M.M.), and enjoyed a brief professional career as a symphony musician.
Despite his strong ties to music, however, Dr. Raley’s interests in liberal arts education never waivered. He earned the M.A. degree in history at Southern Illinois University (1994) and the Ph.D. in late medieval/early modern European history at the University of Chicago (2007). His dissertation examined how lay members of the religious movement known as the "Devotio moderna" attempted to draw novel lines of distinction between the private customs of their communal houses and the public legal jurisdiction of their superiors in order to defend the legal autonomy of their religious communities.
Before coming to Alma College, Dr. Raley taught at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and Wake Forest University. Twice (in 2007 and 2008) he was awarded the Northeastern Illinois University Award for Teaching Excellence. At Wake Forest University, his courses were cross-listed in the Divinity School and Women’s and Gender Studies Program. He has held fellowships from the Newberry Library, the Max Planck Institute for Legal History, and the Herzog August Bibliothek.
Dr. Raley’s latest article, “Traversing Borders – Defining Boundaries: Cosmopolitan Harmonies and Confessional Theology in Georg Rhau’s Liturgical Publications of 1538–45,” has been accepted for publication by the Sixteenth Century Journal. He has presented academic papers at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History, the Herzog August Bibliothek, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Midwest Medieval History Conference, and the Newberry Library, as well as at national meetings of the American Historical Association, the American Society of Church History, and the American Catholic Historical Association.
At Alma College since 2011, Dr. Raley teaches courses in ancient, medieval, and early modern European and world history.
- 2007 Ph.D. in Medieval and Early Modern European History, The University of Chicago.
- 1994 M.A. in European History, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
- 1983 M.M. in Music Performance, The University of Louisville.
- 1981 B.M. (magna cum laude), Belmont College [University], Nashville, Tennessee.
Late Medieval/Early Modern European History (ca. 1300-ca. 1815); World History (Antiquity to Present); Transnationalism and Confessional Theology during the Reformation Era; Legal History and Human Rights Discourse in Early Modern Europe and the Modern World; Gender Studies.