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About MtrlHstryGrl

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  • Interests
    The cult of saints, art and archaeology, women's devotional lives
  • Application Season
    Not Applicable
  • Program
    European History

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  1. Hello! I am trying to start writing my statements of purpose, but I feel a bit stuck. Originally, I had gone straight into my interests ("At [School], I plan to study..."). I have also been told that starting with a brief anecdote that relates to how I became interested in what I want to research. My first thought, anecdote-wise, was seeing my female friends at my Catholic undergraduate school form their devotional lives and identified with certain saints, and then placing that historically through my academic reading. I feel like this may be okay for religious studies applications, but not necessarily history or medieval studies. Some other things that I was thinking about: Study abroad experience-- particularly a study trip to Greece (seeing the Caryatids) or experience in Assisi Experience working on an archaeological dig in northern Italy, but it does not seem as female-oriented as some other experiences
  2. Haha, jinx! I heard about NYU History from two people in my program, though I am not sure if that is true or not. I have heard from Fordham, Toronto, and Penn Religious Studies faculty that it should not be an issue, but I just emailed my potential programs to confirm. FWIW, a professor at Yale recommended Medieval Studies to me, as it was smaller and would likely not be as affected by budgetary constraints. Nevertheless, I sent out emails, and will be trying like hell to win my Fulbright.
  3. I am not sure the veracity, but two people in my program have told me that NYU History is not accepting students for Fall 2021.
  4. Hey, everyone. I wrote this paragraph in one of my SOPs, and I was wondering if I could get some feedback on if it makes sense/is coherent. As a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, I plan to study the intersections of the cult of saints and women’s devotional lives in the late antique and early medieval Mediterranean. My intended research project will specifically explore how lay elite and noble women expressed their devotional lives and formed identities around them. Typically relegated to the domestic sphere, elite and noble women’s conspicuous religious and ritual performance and proverbial and physical connection with the saints solidified their place in social and religious hierarchies. Differences in access to saintliness and intercession also contributed to imagined stratifications on who was more deserving of a place in Heaven. My research will also explore how devotional lives and identities were shaped by cross-cultural exchange in the Mediterranean, overarchingly exploring the connection of religion and identity formation. This research will showcase lay women’s participation in the cult of saints, contributing to the growing body of scholarship about popular piety in lay women and filling the gap left by the lack of feminist scholarship about the cult of saints. This research will help to better understand religiously based social hierarchies in later medieval and early modern Europe and their ramifications, as well as understanding how contemporary religious lay women form devotional identities around a certain saint.
  5. This is fantastic and very helpful! Thank you so much.
  6. Thank you for the thoughts, everyone! This will likely be a longer post, sort of thinking out loud. The questions that have really interested me are: Major: How did women form and perform their devotional lives and identities, specifically related to the cult of saints? Specifically, how did noble and elite women perform religion and religious life? How did they use objects, art, and place in this performance? What were the social implications of performance? How did noble and elite women show power and status via religious patronage and performance? How did the role of women in religion and ritual evolve? Was this continuity as Peter Brown suggests, or change? I will say that I am fairly awful in formulating questions. My thoughts regarding place: Italy: I have a specific interest in Rome as a religious center and a cultural center. Rome has seemed like the most obvious choice, but I fear that just Rome is limited. I am also interested in both Ravenna and Venice. I think that these places would all help me explore cultural exchange and religion, and give me some sort of ability to study Byzantium. This would also work the best with my language background & skills. England: This was the first medieval history that I became truly interested in. I feel like this may give me the best way to study noblewomen in the most traditional sense, and there are tons of sources on women's participation in religion. Further, the religious history is rich and could give lots of Reformation implications. Byzantium: I am just generally interested in the shift from paganism towards Christianity, and have a genuine love of Byzantine art and archaeology. This would also give me a chance to explore the impact of the Great Schism. The archaeological sources, especially in Greece and Turkey, are also strong. I do want to fit in a global aspect, if that makes sense, particularly regarding religious cultures and expressions in North Africa and the Middle East, and their presence and legacy in medieval Europe. All this to say, I had the idea of focusing on England (Canterbury), Italy (Rome), and Jerusalem because of my desire to study trans-regionally and globally. I am feeling that I may be more flexible in time period. I am interested in late antiquity through the central Middle Ages, and I think that my questions could fit in fairly easily in these. I did speak with a professor from Toronto who suggested that late antiquity would be a good background for setting my project in the early and central Middle Ages. I am just not entirely sure where to place it. I am very interested in the evolution of religion from classical religion to the Reformation.
  7. I will say that I am also considering focusing on England (esp. Canterbury), Italy (esp. Rome, but I am also interested in Ravenna and Venice), and Jerusalem, primarily because of pilgrimage and religious sites. I feel like this could help me focus on elite women and the saints/saint worship as well!
  8. This is very helpful! I do have Latin and I am working on Greek (and plan to take an intensive Greek course next summer), but I am not sure if my Greek will be as good as my Latin coming in.
  9. Hello! I am having a lot of trouble narrowing my project down, temporally and geographically. My interests are specifically in Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages. I am mostly interested in Italy, Rome specifically, but also in Byzantium and England. It has been suggested to me by a professor to just focus more on the theme, but I feel like that would be doing me no favors in application season. I have also considered determining time period/geography based on the fit with the program, but I am not quite sure of that, either. Do you have any tips for narrowing this down?
  10. Hi, everyone. I have been spending some time trying to refine and rework my interests a little, and wanted to get some thoughts, if possible. It ended up being a bit longer than my first go 'round, but I think it is a bit stronger! My work aims to close two historiographical gaps. Scholarship about women’s religious lives has traditionally focused on cloistered women project, and much of the work done on the cult of saints is not centered on women. I am broadly interested in the devotional lives of lay women and the ways in which they formed their identites around and within religious life, particularly in the context of the cult of saints. Provincially, my project will focus on lay female nobility in particular, their roles in religion and ritual, and the relationship between noble women, power, and religion. This was expressed through patronage of religious art and charters of religious spaces, such as monasteries and churches; the public performance of religion, both as expressions of belief and of social standing; and access to shrines and saints' bodies. Further, women's use and/or ownership of religious art (particularly icons), objects (relics/reliquaries, jewelry), and space (social geography of churches, if that makes sense) is of particular interest. I intend to use an anthropological study, putting it at the intersection of religious history, gender history, and medieval history. I have secondary interests in Peter Brown's idea of continuity over change and classical reception and the influence of cultural exchange and communication on aesthetics and practice. I want to thank @telkanuru for suggesting Toronto. I spoke with Professors More and Cochelin today and it was a great talk, and their The Other Sister project is a very exciting initiative that I would love to work in.
  11. Thanks! I cut out the bibliography and some things that were irrelevant to the overall paper, so I am just going to keep workshopping it.
  12. Hello! I am applying to PhD programs in the fall, and I am looking over a potential writing sample. Currently the sample is 23 pages, including 4 pages of endnotes and 4-ish pages of bibliography. For schools with a page limit of 15 pages, would this be acceptable?
  13. I actually have been in contact with someone at Yale, albeit in Religious Studies, and will be applying to that program as well!
  14. Thank you-- this is very helpful! I am looking at higher ranked programs as well-- Notre Dame and Columbia specifically.
  15. Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well and staying healthy! This very well be my end-of-semester fatigue, but I am heavily considering only applying to two programs for the next PhD cycle. I have sent out quite a few emails, have had a few phone calls, etc., and found two programs where I feel very confident about the fit. Faculty from these two programs have also told me that I would be a great fit and I have had conversations with faculty there in which they strongly encouraged me to apply. This could very much be me being tired at the end of the semester, but I am considering putting all of my eggs in two baskets, so to speak. Is this a terrible idea? Should I keep looking?
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