Open events
Event #1193

The Myth of Biblical Womanhood


Thursday, June 6, 2019

15:30 - 17:00
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Buchanan Building - BUCH A104
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English | anglais
This open event is hosted by

With financial support from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ International Keynote Speakers Support Fund

In 1977, according to the Google NGram view in Google Books, a new term – biblical womanhood – roared into existence in American English books. It climbed sharply and steadily until the mid-1990s when it tapered off to a less dramatic but still consistent presence in the early 2000s. The meaning of biblical womanhood is simple: God created women to follow male leadership. While the term is a church word, evidence shows how it has spilled into the everyday American culture. Just as troubling as the far-reaching impact of “biblical womanhood” are the assumptions made about its history—that biblical support for the subordination of women runs in a continuous, oppressive thread from the ancient through modern era. Evidence from late medieval English sermons disrupts this narrative of timeless continuity. Barr argues that by including the medieval perspective, we gain a more accurate understanding of women in the late medieval English church, and – importantly – a more accurate understanding of the modern cultural moment that has constructed conservative evangelicals’ “biblical woman.”

  • Beth Allison Barr, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor of History, Baylor University