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UCLA Professor Will Discuss "Masterpiece of Radical Feminism" Sept. 21 at U of M University News
For release: September 10, 2010

For press information, contact Dr. Joshua Phillips, 901-678-5283


Dr. Debora Shuger
Dr. Debora Shuger
Dr. Debora Shuger, Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA, will present the inaugural Shaheen Memorial Lecture at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, in the River Room of the University Center of the University of Memphis. Sponsored by the English Department, the event is free and open to the public.

Shuger’s topic will be “The Girls of Little Gidding: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Radical Feminism.” The Little Gidding community was an extended family of about 30 people, mostly young, who purchased and renovated a dilapidated manor in 1625. For the next three decades they adopted a semi-monastic lifestyle that included a regular cycle of worship and charity work, teaching the Psalter to local children, fashioning magnificently illustrated Gospel harmonies, and establishing the Little Academy, where members of the community discussed theology, ethics, and history. 

Shuger will discuss the Little Academy, most of whose participants were young women, and the beautiful manuscripts they produced to preserve their conversations. The earliest accounts of Little Gidding do not mention the Story Books, and later accounts treated them as the work of Little Gidding’s presiding spirit, Nicholas Ferrar. While portions of the manuscripts were first printed in 1899 and the remainder in 1938 and 1963, they have been largely ignored, despite efforts to recover the writings. Yet, Shuger argues, the Little Gidding Story Books are the most significant and most radical female-authored texts produced between the 14th century and the English Civil War.

Shuger’s research interests are wide-ranging and include Tudor-Stuart devotional poetry and prose, theology and biblical interpretation, political thought, legal history, rhetoric, and life writing (biography, memoirs, diaries). She is the author of numerous articles and books, most recently Political Theologies in Shakespeare’s England and Censorship and Cultural Sensibility: The Regulation of Language in Tudor-Stuart England.

Parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage or in the Southern Avenue parking lot.

The lecture series was created in honor of Dr. Naseeb Shaheen’s 40 years of service to the University of Memphis. Shaheen was an internationally recognized scholar of biblical references in Shakespeare’s plays. He published four books on British literature, three books on the history of Ramallah, and numerous refereed articles. Shaheen died Sept. 26, 2009. 

For more information, contact Dr. Joshua Phillips at or 901-678-5283.

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