Merle is currently a Lecturer and Postgraduate Research Associate in the Department of History.
He studies how local actors were productive factors of change, who shaped the large-scale transformative processes of the late antique Mediterranean world. His dissertation, Building Little Romes: Christianity, Identity, and Governance in Late Antique Gaul examined the transformation of local communities in post-Roman southern Gaul from 450 to 600 C.E. It argued that the “fall” of Rome was a period of creative experimentation in policy and political theology that established new boundaries of exclusion and innovative networks of inclusion within post-Roman society. For his research, he has been awarded a Princeton Dean’s Completion Fellowship and was a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion.
As a member of the Climate Change and History Research Initiative, he is developing a second project in environmental history that deconstructs a narrative of decline to suggest instead communal cohesion and local resilience during the outbreak of the Justinianic Plague (c. 541-750).
Merle is the PI of the interdisciplinary environmental digital humanities project, The Justinianic Plague and the End of Antiquity, funded through Princeton’s Center for Digital Humanities. It compiles, collates, and contextualizes all information on the Justinianic Plague. In addition, he is a participant in the digital humanities project Framing the Late Antique and Early Medieval Economy (FLAME), which seeks to understand changes in the late and post-Roman economy by focusing on transformations in the minting and circulation of money.
He is currently teaching a junior seminar at Princeton entitled “The Fall of Rome and Its Aftermath,” and he previously taught “Western Civilization to 1648,” at Mercer County Community College as an inaugural Princeton-MCCC teaching fellow. He has also precepted for “The World of Late Antiquity.”
Ph.D., History, Princeton University
M.A., Medieval History, King’s College London
B.A., History, Government, Colby College
with Lee Mordechai, “Rejecting Catastrophe: The Case of the Justinianic Plague,” Past & Present, forthcoming
with Lee Mordechai “The Justinianic Plague: An Interdisciplinary Review,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, forthcoming
“A New Name for a New State: The Construction of the Burgundian Regio,” in The Fifth Century: Age of Transformation, Noel Lenski & Jan Willem Drijvers (eds.), forthcoming