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'Women and Words' focus of fifth-annual Phyllis Trible Lecture Series

February 20, 2007

The Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest University, scheduled for March 6 – 7 in Brendle Recital Hall in the university’s Scales Fine Arts Center, celebrates its fifth year with a program dedicated to the exploration of “Women and Words.”

The theme focuses on the power of religious language as it is used by women and about women to restrict or transform.  In addition to three leading feminist scholars of religion who will focus on biblical language, the language of worship and theological language from a global perspective, this year’s series also features acclaimed writer Mary Gordon.  The author of several novels, short stories and personal essays, Gordon is the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of Writing at Barnard College and Columbia University.

Susan Niditch, the Samuel Green Professor of Religion at Amherst College, will give the first lecture of the Trible series, “‘Dancing with Chains’ and the Ambiguity of Power:  Women’s Voices in the Hebrew Bible,” at 1:30 p.m. March 6.

Niditch is a specialist in oral cultures, the Hebrew Bible and religious ethics.  Her books include “Folklore and the Hebrew Bible,” “War in the Hebrew Bible:  A Study In the Ethics of Violence” and “Oral World and Written Word:  Ancient Israelite Literature.”  She earned a doctorate from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Kwok Pui Lan, the William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., will present the event’s second lecture, “Globalization and Feminist Theology,” at 3 p.m. March 6.  She is the co-founder of Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry and has written extensively on Asian feminist theology.

Kwok’s books include “Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology,” “Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860-1927,” “Discovering the Bible in the Non-Biblical World” and “Introducing Asian Feminist Theology.”  She earned a doctorate from Harvard University and an honorary doctorate from Kampen Theological University in the Netherlands.

Gordon will deliver the lecture, “The Baby and the Bath Water:  Some Feminist Uses of the Past,” at 5:30 p.m. March 6.  Her most recent novel, “Pearl,” was published in January 2005 by Pantheon Books.  Gordon’s previous novels – “Final Payments,” “The Company of Women,” “Men and Angels,” “The Other Side” and “Spending:  A Utopian Divertimento” – have all been bestsellers.

She has written a critically-acclaimed memoir, “The Shadow Man:  A Daughter’s Search for Her Father,” and two collections of short stories and novellas, “The Rest of Life” and “Temporary Shelter.”  Gordon received the Lila Acheson Wallace Reader’s Digest Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  She has also been awarded the O’Henry Award for best short story three times.

Gail Ramshaw, professor of religion at LaSalle University and past president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, will deliver the final lecture of the series, “Sarah on Sunday:  Biblical Women, Metaphor and Christian Worship,” at 9:30 a.m. March 7.  She has published books on the meaning of liturgical language, including “A Three-Year Banquet:  The Lectionary for the Assembly” and “The Three-Day Feast:  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter.”

She received her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts at Sarah Lawrence College and a bachelor’s degree at Valparaiso University.

A panel discussion scheduled for 11 a.m. March 7 in Brendle Recital Hall and a 12:30 p.m. luncheon in the Benson University Center will conclude the series.

Phyllis Trible, in whose honor the series is held, will open and close the series and be present throughout.  An internationally-known biblical scholar and University Professor of Biblical Studies at the Wake Forest Divinity School, Trible  became one of the school’s first faculty members before its opening in 1998.

Trible is the author of the books “God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality,” “Texts of Terror:  Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives” and “Rhetorical Criticism:  Context, Method, and the Book of Jonah.”

Previous Trible lectures, which have brought prominent feminist religion scholars from a variety of respected institutions in the United States and Canada, have focused on the topics “Gender, Sexuality and Faith,” “Miriam, Mary and Mary Magdalene in Art, Literature and Music:  Feminist Perspectives,” “The Children of Hagar and Sarah:  Feminist Perspectives in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” and “Feminist and Womanist Religious Perspectives.”

The cost for the lecture series is $75.  Individual lectures are $25.  For more information, visit the lecture series’ Web site at  For additional information, call 336-758-3310.

Press Contacts:

Jacob McConnico
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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