Convent Cultures (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a fall 2016 seminar led by Nancy Bradley Warren.

Far from being an impenetrable boundary, the convent wall in early modern Europe was highly permeable; individual nuns and nunneries as institutions were strongly connected to their local communities and were deeply engaged in both secular and ecclesiastical politics. As Protestant reformations and Catholic reform movements (both monastic reforms and the larger movement generally known as the counter-reformation) unfolded, nuns and nunneries also took in significant symbolic meanings for polemicists of all stripes. This seminar explores writings by, for, and about early modern women religious in continental Europe and the New World. Its participants will consider such subjects as the ways in which English convents in exile in France, Portugal, and the Low Countries served as loci of English Catholic political activity and textual production; Protestant satirical writings about nuns and nunneries; translations of medieval texts for early modern women religious and the circulation of these texts in print culture; relationships among and textual exchanges among English, French, and Spanish nunneries; and the roles of nuns in French and Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Director: Nancy Bradley Warren is Professor of English at Texas A&M University. She is the author of three books on medieval and early modern female spirituality, including most recently The Embodied Word: Female Spiritualities, Contested Orthodoxies, and English Religious Cultures, 1350-1700 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010). Her current book project is entitled Hemispheric Medievalisms: The “Old Religion” in the New World, 1550-1800.