His work focuses on the role of religion in shaping and transforming the relationships between elites and commoners in various cultures. He has coined the expression "demotic religiosity," an orientation that prizes 1) equality before the law, 2) dignity of manual labor, 3) access to sacred texts and divinity for all believers, and 4) a prizing of moral integrity over social honor. Trained as a medievalist, his early work focused on the period around 1000 CE, a moment, in his opinion, of both cultural mutation (origins of the modern West), and intense apocalyptic and millennial expectations.
From 1995-2004, he directed the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University which held annual conferences and published an online journal, Journal of Millennial Studies. This involvement refocused his work on millennialism the world over and in different time periods, and has resulted in the Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements, (Berkshire Reference Works; Routledge, NY, 2000); Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (Oxford U. Press, 2011), and The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-Year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (NYU Press, 2011).
His work on the apocalyptic currents that built up during the approach to 2000 has led him to focus on Global Jihad as a) an apocalyptic millennial movement; and b) a new religious movement whose relationship to the internet may parallel that of Protestantism to printing. At the same time, studying the dynamics of millennialism has turned his attention to the role of communications technology in shaping a culture, and on the controversial issue of “honor-shame” cultures and their relationship to modernity.
In addition to his courses on medieval history, he offers courses on
Europe and the Millennium,
Communications Revolutions from Language to Cyberspace
Honor-shame culture Middle Ages, Modern World
Biblical origins of the Democracy.
In 2011, he is a fellow at the International Consortium on Research in the Humanities at Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany. There he is working on the study with which his medieval work first began, the history of the “sabbatical millennium” with its expectation of the messianic kingdom in the year 6000 from the creation of the world: While God Tarried: Demotic Millennialism from Jesus to the Peace of God, 33-1033.
In 2005 he launched a media-oversight project called The Second Draft in order to look at what the news media calls their “first draft of history.” Since January 2005 he has been blogging at The Augean Stables, a name chosen to describe the current condition of the Mainstream News Media (MSNM) in the West.
As a result of this work on the MSNM, he has come to understand the role of cognitive warfare in the campaign of apocalyptic Jihad against the West in the 21st century, and the abysmal record of the West in defending itself in this critical theater of War. He plans a book addressing these issues tentatively entitled
They’re so Smart ‘cause We’re so Stupid: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century.
- Landes, Richard A.; Head, Thomas J. (eds.) (1987). Essays on the Peace of God : the church and the people in eleventh-century France. Waterloo, Ontario: Waterloo University. OCLC 18039359.
- Landes, Richard A.; Paupert, Catherine (trans.) (1991). Naissance d'Apôtre: Les origines de la Vita prolixior de Saint Martial de Limoges au XIe siècle. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. ISBN 9782503500454.
- Landes, Richard A.; Head, Thomas J. (eds.) (1992). The Peace of God: social violence and religious response in France around the year 1000. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-2741-X.
- Landes, Richard A. (1995). Relics, apocalypse, and the deceits of history: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-75530-8.
- Landes, Richard A. (ed.) (2000). Encyclopedia of millennialism and millennial movements. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92246-1.
- Landes, Richard A.; Van Meter, David C.; Gow, Andrew Sydenham Farrar (2003). The apocalyptic year 1000: religious expectation and social change, 950-1050. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511191-5.
Landes, Richard A. (2011). Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Landes, Richard A.; Katz, Stephen (eds.). The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred Year Retrospective on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. New York: New York University Press.
- “Jews as Contested Ground in Post-Modern Conspiracy Theory", Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 19, Nos. 3-4 (2007), 9-34.
- “Edward Said and the Culture of Honor and Shame: Orientalism and Our Misperceptions of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” in Special issue of Israel Affairs, 13:4 (2007), 84-58, and in Divine, Donna; Salzman, Philip (eds.) (2007). Postcolonial Theory and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415443258.
- "Goldstone's Gaza Report, Part I: A Failure of Intelligence", Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), January 2010.
- "Goldstone's Gaza Report, Part II: A Miscarriage of Human Rights," Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), January 2010.