Mary Martin McLaughlin Memorial Lecture: January 29, 2020

by November 28, 2022
Dr. Beth Plummer Mary Martin McLaughlin Memorial Lecture: January 29, 2020    

 Dr. Beth Plummer

On January 29, the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program welcomes special guest speaker, Dr. Beth Plummer, Susan C. Karant-Nunn Professor of Reformation and Early Modern European History at the University of Arizona, to give the annual Mary Martin McLaughlin Memorial Lecture. The lecture is entitled: "Abbess Margarethe von Watzdorf and her Convent: Material Culture, Devotional Life, and Convent Reform in Sixteenth-Century Germany."

As Dr. Plummer attests, the Abbess Margarethe Watzdorf is a fascinating figure of 16th Century Protestant Reformation History. She became the leader of her convent when she was just thirty-five years old, and brought her convent into the reform era. Dr. Plummer's research involves a remarkable set of documents and object histories from the convent which give insight into the complexities of convent reform and religious women’s lives in 16th Century Germany. The talk will make special use of the convent’s inventory of devotional objects to guide the audience through a fascinating story of what the Reformation meant for women like Margarethe and for institutions like her convent.  

Professor Plummer is an internationally known scholar of early modern religious history. She spent the fall term as a fellow at the prestigious Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, and has previously held fellowships from the Institute for Reformation Studies at the University of St. Andrews (UK) and at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, Dr. Plummer has held major grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Herzog-August Bibliothek, and the NEH. She has authored and edited five books, including most recently Names and Naming in Early Modern Germany (2019), which she co-edited with Joel Harrington. Her monograph, From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (2012), won the Gerald Strauss Book Prize 2013. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Past and PresentandGender and History, and she has published more than a dozen book chapters, encyclopedia entries, survey articles, and translations. 

The Medieval and Renaissance Studies program also recognizes Mary Martin McLaughlin’s landmark scholarship through this memorial lecture, and Dr. Plummer’s extensive work on women and religion makes her an especiallyfittingspeaker for this occasion. Mary Martin McLaughlin, a native of Grand Island and a graduate (BA and MA) of the UNL History Department, was a scholar of women, children, family,and women’s religious communitiesin medieval Europe. She earned her PhD at Columbia University and taught at Wellesley, Vassar, and the University of Nebraska. Two books (with co-editor James Bruce Ross) published during her lifetime, The Portable Medieval Reader and The Portable Renaissance Reader, made her work a staple of college courses for decades. Her masterwork, Heloise and the Paraclete: A Twelfth-Century Quest (with Bonnie Wheeler) was published in 2002, and her edition of The Letters of Heloise and Abelard (also with Wheeler) was published posthumously in 2009. 

The talk is free and open to the public. An informal reception will follow the lecture.

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