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Patten University

Patten University

Located in the city of Oakland, California, Patten University is a private, coeducational, interdenominational Christian university. It strives to provide an excellent education for motivated and committed students from a broad diversity of ethnic, geographic, and socio-economic backgrounds.The five-acre campus was founded in 1944, as Oakland Bible Institute. Initially, it was located at 1428 Alice Street.It was later moved to Telegraph Avenue in 1950, and then to the present campus on Coolidge Avenue, in 1960. To reflect its growth and expansion, the institute was renamed Patten University.Supported by the Christian Evangelical Churches of America, Inc., the university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and California State Board of Education.It provides several graduate professional programs and an undergraduate liberal arts education with an emphasis in the Patten method of Biblical studies, Judeo Christian ethics, and community service.The campus includes the Division of Biblical and Theological Studies, the Division of Business and Management, the Division of Christian Ministries, the Division of Extension/Cooperative Online Programs, and the Division of Education.To meet the needs of the students at other locations, it provides certificate and degree programs at extension centers and through distance learning.Intercollegiate sports are promoted on the campus, with athletic scholarships being offered to eligible student-athletes.Also, it provides spiritual activities ranging from small community groups to chapel services. In addition, the campus offers international study programs, counseling services and career services.Wycliffe Hall, the TV and Radio facility, Gutenberg Hall, the Activity Center, Tom Patten Chapel, Faith Hall auditorium, the Resource Center, the Audiovisual, Computerized Music, and Language Lab, the Learning Resources Center, and the Music House are among the facilities provided on campus.The Harold and Dorothy Blumenthal Library at Patten University houses more than 33,000 books, 180 periodicals, magazines, journals, and an audiovisual collection of videos and CD's. Additionally, it provides online access to journal databases and full-text educational journals.


Patten (shoe)

Pattens are protective overshoes that were worn in Europe from the Middle Ages until the early 20th century. Pattens were worn outdoors over a normal shoe, had a wooden or later wood and metal sole, and were held in place by leather or cloth bands. Pattens functioned to elevate the foot above the mud and dirt (including human effluent and animal dung) of the street, in a period when road and urban paving was minimal.


Dr. Thelma Patten Law

Born Thelma Adele Patten on December 30, 1900, Dr. Thelma Patten Law attended Howard University Medical School in Washington, DC, and received her medical license in 1923. She began practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology (Ob/Gyn) in Houston in June of that same year. Dr. Charles Pemberton and Dr. H.E. Lee appeared on the professional scene in Houston around the same time as Dr. Patten Law these three physicians &ldquoformed a triad of mutual interests,&rdquo and became leaders in their field, working hard in civic and medical society circles.

Dr. Patten Law was one of the first black female physicians in Texas and the first in Houston. During her long career, she was an active member of the Lone Star State Medical Association and served as the first woman president in 1940. Under her term, on August 11 through 16, 1940, the organization hosted the National Negro Medical Association (later shortened to the National Medical Association) when they held their annual meeting in Houston.

Dr. Patten Law was married to James H. Law, a teacher of advanced physiology at Houston&rsquos Jack Yates High School. She served as the president of the P.T.A. there during the 1951-52 school year. Dr. Catherine Roett, Houston&rsquos first black pediatrician who began practicing in 1946, once said that two of the most influential people in her life were Dr. Patten Law and her husband, who taught Roett in high school. Dr. Patten Law died in Huntsville, Texas on November 12, 1968.

Center for Public History | Office: 524 Agnes Arnold Hall | (713) 743-3120


Why removing statues doesn’t erase our history

Recent successes for the #RhodesMustFall movement has left many Oxford students with a sense of frustration. Of course, it’s good to see progress finally being made on this issue. What’s disappointing is the length of time it’s taken to get here and the as yet inadequate solution. After more than 1,000 protestors took to the streets outside Oriel, the governors of the college have finally voted to begin the removal of Rhodes.

In typical Oxford fashion, any immediate action is out of the question. There will also be an independent inquiry into the life and legacy of Rhodes. By itself, this action is encouraging, but it seems many have still not got the message. University chancellor Chris Patten is one of them. Patten has suggested that the presence of Rhodes scholars, many of whom are from Africa, at the university makes calling for the statue to come down ‘hypocritical’.

The chancellor also argued that if the statue was “alright for Mandela… it’s pretty well alright for me”, referring to the late South African president’s establishment of the Mandela Rhodes Trust in 2003. These comments, made only this month, are both ignorant and tone-deaf. Implying that former and current Rhodes scholars should be silent on the actions of Rhodes out of ‘gratitude’ is patronising and degrading.

Bringing in Mandela, a man who fought his entire life against colonial and supremacist oppression and equating a willingness to compromise with endorsement is a further willful ignorance of history. But Patten is not alone.

The effigy to Rhodes adorning the entrance to Oriel is but one piece in a national and global conversation. Everyone, it seems, has some opinion over whether or not we should continue to memorialise those whose views or actions would now be considered repugnant. As a historian, I know that characters like Cecil Rhodes are complex.

For me, Zimbabwean historian Peter Goodwin put it well when he said, “Rhodes and his cronies fit in perfectly with their surroundings and conformed to the morality (or lack of it) of the day.” Rhodes was a man of his time, but his time is over. Our time is now, and we are right to recognise Rhodes and the time he lived in as unacceptable by our standards. We in Britain especially could benefit from knowing a great deal more about Rhodes the man and the legacy of empire.

Yet, I am constantly being told, from both public and personal sources, that removing statues will somehow erase our history. I take issue with this argument for two reasons. Firstly, it’s demonstrably wrong. Across Germany, icons of Nazism have been taken down and publicly banned. Yet, Germans remain culturally conscience of the darkness in their history and have been proactive since the end of the second world war in both acknowledging that legacy and moving forward from it.

In the former countries of the Soviet Union, statues of Vladimir Lenin have been coming down since 1990, without collective forgetfulness at the crimes of the USSR. Confining the statues of historical figures who no longer meet our moral standards to museums can provide the best platform to start a dialogue about these figures as they really were. The second issue I have with the argument is that many in Britain are woefully unaware of the actual realities behind those they lionise.

How many, for example, know of Churchill’s involvement in the Bengal famine in 1943 which saws the deaths of over 3 million people. Are Churchill’s staunchest defenders aware of his unleashing the infamous Black and Tans against the Irish Catholics while Colonial Secretary in the 1920s? And one wonders how many squares their admiration for Churchill against his expressed wishes to use chemical weapons against the Kurds in the hope it would “spread a lively terror”.

To me, it seems counterproductive to ‘defend’ history while not understanding the full story behind it.

There are some, of course, who excuse the presence of these monuments because they celebrate the good deeds, divorced from the bad. Patten and others might argue that Rhodes should stay on the grounds of the scholarships his wealth has funded or his donations to Oriel. Others might say that Churchill’s memorials ought to stay to honour his role in leading the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

There were even some who claimed that Edward Colston’s charity work should entitle his statue to remain on display in Bristol. Of course, this argument does not stand up to the mildest scrutiny. In the minds of those from the communities affected by these figures, such separation is impossible and implausible. Someone like Churchill will of course always carry great historical and cultural significance.

There can and should be a frank and honest discussion about Churchill the man that highlights his achievements as well as his crime. But this cannot take place until we collectively accept that criticism of Churchill is not only acceptable but actively necessary.

Like all countries, the UK has a complicated history. Is there much to be proud of? Yes. But there is also a lot we need to reflect on more critically. There are lessons that we need to learn, and actions we need to ensure we do not repeat. It is easy to feel a sense of overwhelming shame when confronting these historical crimes, but I believe there is a distinct patriotism that can come from this self-reflection.

By critically looking back, we must also look forward and ask ourselves both ‘how far have we come’ and ‘how far can we go’.

Rejecting the errors of our past allows us to embrace a brighter future of a Britain better than ever before. And retiring the idols of yesteryear leaves room on the pedestal for the heroes of tomorrow.

So no, let’s not ‘erase our history’. Let’s learn to properly understand and accept it. And then let’s use that knowledge to go optimistically into the future and build a country that’s fair and just for everyone.


Alan Patten

Chair, Department of Politics
Contact

Alan Patten is Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Politics and Chair of the Department of Politics at Princeton University.

A citizen of Canada and the United States, he has a B.A. from McGill, an M.A. from Toronto and an M. Phil. and D. Phil. (1996) from Oxford. He previously taught at McGill University and the University of Exeter, and has visited at the State Islamic University of Indonesia in Jakarta

His book, Equal Recognition: The Moral Foundations of Minority Rights, appeared in 2014 with Princeton University Press.

He is also the author of Hegel’s Idea of Freedom (Oxford, 1999), which won the APSA First Book Prize in Political Theory and the C.B. Macpherson Prize awarded by the Canadian Political Science Association. He is the co-editor, with Will Kymlicka, of Language Rights and Political Theory (Oxford, 2003). His articles have appeared in Political Theory, Ethics, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Journal of Political Philosophy, History of Political Thought, and the American Political Science Review.

Patten is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled A Liberal Theory of Religious Freedom. Some of his preliminary work on this topic is published in "The Normative Logic of Religious Liberty," Journal of Political Philosophy (2017). Patten also has longstanding research interests in the history of nationalist thought, and has published several papers on this topic.

Patten's recent undergraduate courses include "The Just Society" and "The Ideal of Democracy." In both courses, students read a mix of historical and contemporary authors. At the graduate level, recent courses include "From Kant to Hegel," "Self-Determination," and "Theories of Distributive Justice." Patten has served on numerous PhD committees in the past decade on a range of different topics in both contemporary political philosophy and the history of political thought.

Professor Patten was the editor of Philosophy & Public Affairs from 2010 to 2017.


Patten Chapel

Patten Chapel is the heart of the UTC campus, dedicated in 1919 as part of the University of Chattanooga. The original entrance on McCallie Avenue is no longer used. Doors at the rear open to the main courtyard of campus. There is also an entrance to Hooper-Race hall where restrooms and snacks are located. Parking is available in lot 26, across Douglas Street from Fletcher and Founders halls.

The chapel seats approximately 400 people in rich oak pews. The brick is a dark reddish brown that has warmed with the years. Highlighted by the brick are the moss and rust-colored stain glass windows. Gothic chandeliers reveal dark-brown ornate woodwork arches that finish the ceiling in the seating chamber.

The chancel floor is rich-red pottery tile. The woodwork is a deep rich oak again highlighted by the same gothic chandeliers. A new organ is available along with a Yamaha grand piano.

We hope you will visit the Patten Chapel and take in the rich history and reverent grace of this stately building. The building has stood the test of time, and became an iconic feature of campus architecture.

For information on renting either patten or Danforth chapel, call Laura Cagle at 423-425-4203.


Education and early military career

Patton was born to a wealthy California family and enjoyed a privileged childhood. His early years were marred, however, by difficulties in spelling and reading, which has led some historians to speculate that he suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia. His formal education did not begin until age 11, but, in time, he became a voracious reader and later in life published numerous articles on military subjects. Patton enjoyed military history in particular, especially books about the American Civil War, a conflict in which his grandfather and great-uncle had been killed while fighting for the Confederacy. Patton spent a year at the Virginia Military Institute and then transferred to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he was forced to repeat his plebe (freshman) year because of poor grades. His academic performance improved, and, after graduating in June 1909, Patton was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the cavalry. On May 26, 1910, he married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrial tycoon Frederick Ayer.

In 1912 Patton was selected to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. There he competed against military officers from around the world in the modern pentathlon, an event that included swimming, pistol shooting, running, fencing, and riding. Patton made a respectable showing, coming in fifth out of 42 contestants. He had learned fencing at West Point and continued his study of swordsmanship while in Europe. Later—while attending the Mounted Service School in Fort Riley, Kansas—Patton was designated an instructor of swordsmanship and received the title Master of the Sword. In that role he designed the U.S. Model 1913 Enlisted Cavalry Saber, known as the “Patton Sword.” Patton also loved polo, and he played it, like he pursued so many things, with a violent, reckless abandon, frequently injuring himself in the process. Biographer Martin Blumenson has suggested that his frequent head injuries may have contributed to the erratic behaviour attributed to him in his later years.

Patton saw his first combat soon after leaving Fort Riley. When Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa led an attack on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916, Patton joined the staff of Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing and accompanied him on a punitive expedition into Mexico. Though the mission failed to apprehend Villa, Patton was responsible for leading a raid that killed three of Villa’s men. The attack garnered much publicity and was notable for being the first time that automobiles had been used in combat by the U.S. Army.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Pershing was made the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), and Patton, promoted to captain, joined him in France. In November 1917, Patton, now a major, left Pershing’s headquarters staff and became the first officer to be appointed to the new U.S. Army Tank Corps. Over the next months he organized, trained, and even designed the uniforms for the new tank units he was also promoted to lieutenant colonel. On September 12, 1918, Patton, ignoring orders to stay in radio contact, personally led the first U.S. tank units into battle during the Saint-Mihiel offensive. In the Meuse-Argonne offensive a few weeks later, Patton was badly wounded by a machine-gun bullet. He lay in a shell hole for hours before it was safe to evacuate him, but he refused to be taken to the hospital until he had reported to his commander. He was promoted to the temporary rank of colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery under fire.


Reflection: Eve Patten

Many years ago I was a lowly research assistant on the Field Day Anthology. This simply meant that I chased down a couple of references for some obscure footnotes in one of the sections, but Seamus still insisted that my name was included in the volume acknowledgements. It was typical of his generosity and his ability to treat everyone—even obscure doctoral students that he didn’t know at all—with respect and interest.

I did not know him well on a personal level, but perhaps I can say something about what he meant to the handful of research students working in Trinity on what used to be called ‘Anglo-Irish Literature’, back in the late 1980s and 1990s. Here was an intellectual who made Irish writing relevant to the world, and did so in the most elegant, economic prose, the most articulate, accessible lines of argument. The book that really inspired me was (and is) Strange Country (1997), which is based on his 1995 Clarendon Lectures. Suddenly, in the midst of the pedestrian academic material that we were trying to assimilate, there was Seamus Deane reading modern Irish literature through the poles of ‘Boredom and Apocalypse’ effortlessly interpreting Ireland alongside the Empire, Joyce alongside D.H. Lawrence, D’Arcy McGee alongside Derrida. This was pioneering criticism in Irish literary and cultural history, and regardless of all our divergent political perspectives, it laid the foundations for so much of what has followed since.

Eve Patten is Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, Trinity College, Dublin, and editor of Irish Literature in Transition, 1940-1980 (Cambridge University Press, 2020). In 2018, she visited the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and delivered that year's Seamus Heaney Memorial Lecture.


Patten lecture: James Scott

James Scott is a leading scholar of political anthropology. Scott serves as the Sterling Professor of Political Science, a professor of anthropology and a professor in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and he is founding director of the agrarian studies program at Yale University.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Scott is a passionate activist on behalf of the people of Southeast Asia. He has served as a liaison in minority communities of the Burmese uplands, supporting democratic opposition in the country.

In “A Brief History of Flight from the State,” Scott will explore the role of stateless zones such as “Zomia,” an area in Southeast Asia that has historically been beyond the control of governments. He will outline the geography and social structures that aid state avoidance and the historical precedent of Zomia as a center for state-fleeing refugees.

Scott has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He holds an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. Scott received Japan’s Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize and the University of Copenhagen’s Ester Boserup Prize for Research on Development.

He maintains a small farm in rural Connecticut where he raises sheep, chickens and bees, an experience he credits with contributing to his research and insights about people who live independently from influences of governments and formal markets.

The William T. Patten Foundation

The William T. Patten Foundation provides funds to bring distinguished scholars or practitioners in the sciences, the humanities and the arts to the Bloomington campus for a week. The foundation has brought over 150 scholars of extraordinary national and international distinction since 1937, making it the oldest lecture series at Indiana University. Lecturers are chosen by a campus-wide faculty committee.

William T. Patten graduated in 1893 with a Bachelor of Arts in history from IU. He then moved to Indianapolis and led a successful career in real estate and politics. He created an endowment for the university in 1931, with the purpose of bringing renowned leaders to the Bloomington campus.


What Ole Miss Can Teach Universities About Grappling With Their Pasts

Comparing the methods of Oxford University in the U.K. with those of the University of Mississippi shows there’s much to learn from the latter’s conscientious attempts at dealing with its history of racism.

Next month, students at the University of Oxford will return for their fall semester, known as the “Michaelmas” term—named after the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels—to a campus strewn with the sort of colonial- and slave-era tinder that has helped fuel the outrage and protests on university campuses across America.

A statue of Cecil Rhodes, tucked in a niche of an Oriel College building on the High Street, honors the 19th-century alumnus who founded the De Beers diamond company using cheap African labor and left his fortune to endow Oxford University’s prestigious Rhodes Scholarships. Two years ago, when the Rhodes Must Fall movement staged street protests to demand the removal of the Rhodes statue, Oxford Chancellor Christopher Patten, who oversaw the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, responded with the composure befitting a former colonial governor. If Oxford students couldn’t show the kind of “generosity of spirit” that Nelson Mandela demonstrated toward Cecil Rhodes, and if they couldn’t commit to open inquiry, Patten observed coolly, “then maybe they should think about being educated elsewhere.”

The response was met with dismay and outrage.

Since then, students, and even some faculty, have begun unearthing the English university’s unsavory legacies and benefactions from the slave trade, colonial exploitation, and imperialist wars. They’re the kinds of legacies and benefactions that their American counterparts have been struggling with on campuses such as Amherst, Brown, Georgetown, and many others.

The library at Oxford’s All Souls College is named after Christopher Codrington, who came from a family of 17th-century slave traders that was said to have bred slaves like cattle—a claim disputed by historians—on the Caribbean island of Barbuda. A dozen “tsantsas,” or shrunken heads, collected by English explorers between 1871 and 1936, gaze hollow-eyed from a vitrine in the university’s Pitt Rivers Museum. One cardboard placard explains that “skulls of children” were decorated with “‘bull-roarer’ pendants, to rattle in the wind.”

Last spring, the history faculty hosted a half-day teach-in “intended as a means of reflecting on the history and legacies of Oxford’s relationship to empire and colonialism.” In June 2017, the student organization Common Ground hosted a weekend symposium, “Imperial Past Unequal Present,” with a panel dedicated to “Making Rhodes History.” A “Working Group on Oxford and Colonialism” regularly convenes concerned stakeholders—students, faculty, and some administrators, including the director of the Pitt Rivers Museum—to discuss “decolonisation” of the Oxford curriculum, the creation of a web-based catalogue of Oxford’s colonial-era sins, and the development of a smartphone app for an Oxford walking tour whose stops will include “a certain famous High Street statue” as well as “smaller less well-known objects and sites.”

Across the Atlantic Ocean, a more integrated approach is being taken at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, to address similar historical challenges. A 49-page report by the “Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context” at Ole Miss inventories historically problematic statues, streets, and buildings, as well as a 12-foot-high Tiffany stained-glass window dedicated to Confederate soldiers, a cemetery for Confederate war dead, and the graves of several of the “men of Lafayette County who served in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.”

“Our university has long been committed to honest and open dialogue about its history and to make our campuses more welcoming and inclusive,” the Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter wrote in his instruction to the 14 committee members in August 2016. “As part of the university’s role in transforming lives and communities, we must successfully come to grips with difficult aspects of our history.”

Historic truth can hurt. Ole Miss was founded in 1844 on land that originally belonged to indigenous peoples, and many of its buildings were constructed, according to the report, by “black workers, many of them slaves.” During the Civil War, virtually the entire student body, 135 out of 139 students, enlisted in the Confederate army. A monument honoring their sacrifices, erected in 1907, was part of the Lost Cause movement that saw the proliferation of such statues across the South that have been at the center of recent turmoil—most notably the fatal riots in Charlottesville last month. The Ole Miss memorial bears the inscription “They Gave Their Lives In A Just and Holy Cause.” Then there’s Longstreet Hall, which was dedicated in 1929 and is named after the university’s second president, a slave-owning uncle of a Confederate General. There’s also the Johnson Commons, which honors the family name of Paul B. Johnson, a former governor whose son, also a former governor, is infamous for his “active opposition” to desegregation. In September 1962, Paul Johnson Jr., then the lieutenant governor, physically blocked federal marshals who were protecting James Meredith, the first African American whose admission to Ole Miss was a landmark moment in the American civil-rights movement.

Perhaps the most egregious symbol of Ole Miss’s racist roots is the campus building that honors the former U.S. Senator and Mississippi governor James K. Vardaman, who advocated for lynching and publicly chastised President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt for inviting the African American educator and author Booker T. Washington to a dinner at the White House in October 1901. “Let Teddy take coons to the White House,” Vardaman wrote at the time in the Greenville Commonwealth, a newspaper he owned. “I should not care if the walls of the ancient edifice should be so saturated with the effluvia from their rancid carcasses that a ‘Cench bug’ would have to crawl upon the dome . to avoid asphyxiation.”

The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context was unsparing in exposing the university’s darkest moments. Its findings include a faculty meeting report, from November 1860, in which a student “burned the negro’s cheek with a cigar,” and another, dated March 1860, in which another student sexually assaulted a black woman named Jane, “who lived and worked as a domestic slave in the Chancellor’s private residence.”

The committee drew on the experiences of other universities, specifically Brown, the University of Virginia, Emory, Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale. The Ole Miss team was particularly taken by the findings of Yale’s “Committee to Establish Principles for Renaming,” which cautioned decision makers to “navigate change without effacing the past” and to “align any building name change with the mission of the university, with its deep history, and with its promising future.” The Yale report observed that a university “communicates” its values and history through its building names and campus symbols. “Guided by these tenets,” the Ole Miss team reported to Chancellor Vitter, “the committee hopes we have lived up to their standards.” The committee members were underestimating their achievement.

Few American colleges or universities have faced such deeply embedded legacies of racism and prejudice, or have had to navigate such complex political and social waters. The Ole Miss chapter of the NAACP is as attentive to university decisions as are the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Fewer higher-education institutions still have addressed their legacies in such a comprehensive and proactive manner. Brown University constituted a Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, but restricted its mandate to “factual information and critical perspectives.” Harvard Law School erased its escutcheon–three haystacks adapted from the crest of early slave-owning benefactors—before deliberating on a replacement symbol. In April 2016, Yale University argued convincingly for retaining the name of Calhoun College—named after a 19th-century racist firebrand who declared slavery a “positive good”—only to argue with equal conviction for changing the name in February 2017.

The Ole Miss response has been deliberate, thoughtful, and measured. The university’s leadership, which committed itself to an “action plan” as early as 2014, strived for an “additive process not a subtractive one” while seeking “a just and faithful balance between humility and honesty.” Committee members retained what seemed appropriate to retain they removed or erased when removal or erasure seemed a moral requisite. They found small, elegant solutions to big problems. The issue of Johnson Hall was resolved with the simplest of orthographic cosmetics: In changing its namesake to Paul Johnson Sr., it distinguished the father, who publicly condemned lynching, from his son, who became a national symbol for resistance to desegregation.

The recommendation was made without waffling or dithering to erase Vardaman’s name from the university’s memory. “Considering the virulent racism which remains Vardaman’s principal legacy,” the committee argued in justifying this damnatio memoriae, “the name makes unwarranted connections between the University and Vardaman.” Members proposed contextualizing texts for problematic monuments, public events that could serve as “teachable moments,” and a museum that would explore the university’s complex historical legacies. They also recommended new headstones for the Confederate soldiers in the cemetery, and “an appropriate marker” for the soldiers of the United States Colored Troops.


The William T. Patten Foundation

Elizabeth A. Clark, the John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion at Duke University, is one of the leading scholars of Late Antiquity in the world. A pioneer in opening up the study of Christian history and culture to new questions, Clark applies contemporary cultural, literary, social, and feminist theory to ancient sources. Educated at Vassar College and Columbia University (where she earned her doctorate), she founded the Department of Religion at Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. After eighteen years, she joined the faculty of Duke University in 1982. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Clark has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Clark virtually invented the study of women in the post-New Testament early Christian period. Looking behind the androcentric literature of the church fathers, she deciphered and brought to light evidence for the important activities of prominent women. In the course of two books of collected essays -- Jerome, Chrysostom, and Friends (1979) and Ascetic Piety and Women's Faith (1986)--- Clark analyzed the power of women gained through asceticism and demonstrated the extent to which their acts of renunciation served as a precondition for equality between the sexes. While previous scholars had tended to cast Christian ascetics as masochists or arch neurotics, Clark broke with this tradition, instead construing asceticism in terms of sociocultural power and the construction and revision of gender roles. In addition, Clark translated many of the relevant sources into English for the first time.

Clark's two most recent books, both works of magisterial weight, exemplify what can be achieved when patient historical labor is combined with theoretical sophistication. The Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (1992) brilliantly uses social network theory to contextualize debates over the representation of God, the construction of the body, the freedom of the will, and the justice of the divine that inflamed intellectuals at the turn of the fifth century. Her newly published book-- Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity (1999) employs contemporary literary theory to illumine patristic efforts to find ascetic meaning in a Bible that seemed rather to promote family and reproduction. This study examines various reading strategies employed by early ascetic interpreters in a way that students of literary theory of any period would find fascinating.

At present, Clark has focused her attention on the greatest challenge that history has hitherto encountered: the problem of the 'linguistic turn' in poststructuralist thought and the difficulties it presents with regard to the referential status of any reconstruction of the past. Early returns on what will result in a book-length project tentatively entitled Rewriting Christian History --have been suggestive. For instance, Clark's article "The Lady Vanishes: Dilemmas of a Feminist Historian after the Linguistic Turn" (1998) examines, in her own words, "what opportunities and pitfalls confront the feminist historian who wishes to engage the postmodern intellectual scene." Ending with a model analysis of Gregory of Nyssa's biography of his sister, Macrina, Clark demonstrates that the historical lady does, indeed, vanish -- transformed into fluid symbols at the hands of patriarchal authorities.

Clarks energetic service has contributed greatly to interest in the early church. She has made the literature of gender and church history available in the classroom through her reader Women and Religion: A Feminist Sourcebook of Christian Studies (1977 rev. 1996). In 1992, she founded the prize-winning Journal of Early Christian Studies, of which she continues to be co-editor. Her colleagues have recognized Clark's scholarly leadership by electing her president of the North American Patristic Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Society of Church History. Generously serving as teacher, mentor, and editor, she has already left an indelible mark on a generation of younger scholars.

Through her groundbreaking work, Clark continues to bring the sheltered world of "patristics" into the central theoretical conversations that currently shape literary and historical studies.


Watch the video: Patten University: How Were Different (December 2021).