Saturday, October 28, 2006

An Abbess and Her Garden of Delight: Medieval Historian Investigates Gender and Spirituality, November 9

Chestertown, MD, October 27, 2006 — Washington College's Conrad M. Wingate Lecture in History presents "Garden of Delights: A Twelfth Century Abbess and Her Book," a talk by Dr. Fiona Griffiths, Assistant Professor of History, New York University, on Thursday, November 9, at 4:30 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center Forum. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Dr. Fiona Griffiths is a medieval historian whose work focuses on the intersection of gender and spirituality. Her book, The 'Garden of Delights': Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century (The University of Pennsylvania Press, November 2006) explores the involvement of monastic women in the spiritual and intellectual developments of twelfth-century Europe, overturning the assumption that women were largely excluded from the "renaissance" and "reform" of this period. Focusing on the 'Hortus deliciarum' (Garden of Delights), a magnificently illuminated manuscript of theology, biblical history, and canon law written both by and explicitly for women at the end of the twelfth century, Griffiths offers a persuasive new reading of female monastic culture, arguing for women's engagement with the spiritual and intellectual vitality of the period on a level previously thought unimaginable.

Griffiths has taught at New York University and Smith College. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Medieval History, Viator, and such collections as Listen, Daughter: The Speculum Virginum and the Formation of Religious Women in the Middle Ages, Medieval Memories: Men, Women and the Past, 700-1300 and Women Writing in Latin. She is currently writing a book on pastoral care in the monastic relationships between nuns and their priests, that is, pastoral care, within the contexts of medieval reform movements.

The Conrad M. Wingate Memorial Lecture in History is held in honor of the late Conrad Meade Wingate '23, brother of late Washington College Visitor Emeritus Phillip J. Wingate '33 and the late Carolyn Wingate Todd. He was principal of Henderson (MD) High School at the time of his death from cerebrospinal meningitis at age 27. At Washington College, he was president of the Dramatic Association, president of the Adelphia Literary Society, and vice president of the Student Council in 1922-23.

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