On Friday, a lecture on the Virgin Mary will be held in the Lindsay Young Auditorium in Hodges Library.
Historian Amy Remensnyder of Brown University will deliver a lecture entitled "La Conquistadora: A Tale of Two Seas, The Virgin Mary, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Indians," which will examine the role of the Virgin Mary as an icon of military conquest and spiritual conversion during the early periods in ways that shaped — and continue to shape — religious, political and ethnic identities on both sides of the Atlantic.
Dr. Remensnyder's lecture will be the ninth annual Riggsby Lecture and sponsored by UT's Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
The lecture will last approximately one hour and will include a short question and answer session. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow in the library galleria.
Dr. Jay Rubenstein, professor in history and medieval historian, thinks very highly of Remensnyder, who is a specialist in medieval history and culture with an expertise in areas regarding the Iberian Peninsula and Muslim and Christian relations.
"Dr. Remensnyder is a highly respected scholar, and a highly creative one, too," Rubenstein said. "Her current research builds bridges between the medieval and modern world, and it addresses questions of religion and warfare that are of fundamental importance in the current political climate."
He believes the lecture will not only be interesting and engaging, but also that the topic is one of importance.
"There is no more important topic today than trying to understand the ways in which different religions and peoples interact with one another, and we as human beings have no more important duty than to try to understand these processes of cultural engagement," Rubenstein said. "The problems at the heart of Dr. Remensnyder's talk are the problems at the heart of the most difficult issues we face today."
Rubenstein also believes students and other attendees will learn much from this lecture, saying that they "will learn to see the Virgin Mary, colonialism and the discovery of the New World in an entirely new light. They will also learn about (how) imagination, dreams and storytelling are shaping historical events."
Dr. Heather Hirschfeld, associate professor of English and Riggsby Director for the Marco Institute, agrees with Rubenstein in thinking the lecture will be an eye-opening one.
"The exciting thing about Dr. Remensnyder is the way in which she casts her work on the early periods as relevant to contemporary concerns about religious and racial identity," Hirschfeld said. "I would expect students to emerge with a fresh understanding of the use of the figure of the Virgin Mary several centuries ago which helps us make sense of our own investments in religious iconography today."
Stuart Riggsby, former dean of UT's College of Arts and Sciences, and his wife, Kate, endowed the Riggsby Lecture series in support of the Marco Institute and in honor of their special interest in the medieval Mediterranean. Every fall, the Riggsby Lecture brings a prestigious scholar of the medieval Mediterranean to speak on campus. Recent lectures have featured experts on Spanish archives, Muslim-Christian relations and the cultural and economic exchange of luxury goods in the Mediterranean.