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Symposium on "The Life of Teresa of Avila: A Biography"

Oct 24, 2019
Social Sciences, Room 122
1126 E 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Carlos EireYale University

Bernard McGinnUniversity of Chicago

Susan SchreinerUniversity of Chicago

Keith EganSaint Mary's College

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Free and open to the public. Cosponsored by Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion at the Divinity School, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Medieval Studies Workshop. This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Copies of The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2019) will be available for sale by the Seminary Coop Bookstore.

Join us for a symposium discussion of the recent book by Carlos Eire.

Saint Teresa of Avila’s Life is among the most remarkable accounts ever written of the human encounter with the divine. The Life is not really an autobiography at all, but rather a confession written for inquisitors by a nun whose raptures and mystical claims had aroused suspicion. Despite its troubled origins, the book has had a profound impact on Christian spirituality for five centuries, attracting admiration from readers as diverse as mystics, philosophers, artists, psychoanalysts, and neurologists. How did a manuscript once kept under lock and key by the Spanish Inquisition become one of the most inspiring religious books of all time?

In The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2019) National Book Award winner Carlos Eire tells the story of this incomparable spiritual masterpiece, examining its composition and reception in the sixteenth century, the various ways its mystical teachings have been interpreted and reinterpreted across time, and its enduring influence in our own secular age.

Professor Eire will also give a luncheon talk that day at noon at the University of Chicago of Chicago. He will also teach a three-hour master class for students and faculty on The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila on Friday, October 25.


Carlos Eire is the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History & Religious Studies at Yale University. He holds a PhD from Yale University, specializing in the social, intellectual, religious, and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe, with a strong focus on both the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the history of popular piety; and the history of the supernatural, and the history of death. He is the author many books, including War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship From Erasmus to CalvinFrom Madrid to Purgatory: The Art and Craft of Dying in Sixteenth Century Spain; and A Very Brief History of Eternity. Prof. Eire also wrote the National Book Award-winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana (2004) about his exile from his native Cuba.


Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School and the Committees on Medieval Studies and on General Studies at the University of Chicago. He has written extensively about the history of apocalyptic thought, spirituality, and mysticism. McGinn's many books include Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with EvilThe Presence of Goda multivolume history of Western Christian mysticism, and most recently Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae: A Biography.


Susan Schreiner is Professor Emerita of the History of Christianity and Theology at the Divinity School and in the College at the University of Chicago. She holds an MDiv from Harvard University and a PhD from Duke University. A historian of early modern Europe, her research and teaching interests include the Protestant Reformation, early modern Catholicism, and the Renaissance; in addition, her teaching interests extend to twentieth-century Protestant theologians, including Jacques Ellul, Reinhold Niebuhr, Langdon Gilkey, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Karl Barth. Prof. Schreiner is author of The Theater of His Glory, Where Shall Wisdom be Found? Calvin’s exegesis of Job from medieval and Modern Perspectives, and Are You Alone Wise? The Search for Certainty in the Early Modern Era.


Keith J. Egan is the Aquinas Chair in Catholic Theology Emeritus at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN, and adjunct full professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. His doctorate is from the University of Cambridge, England. Egan is also the president of the North American Carmelite Institute, Washington, DC, Fellow of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome, a member of the North American Carmelite Forum, and past president of the College Theology Society. He has published widely on Christian and Carmelite Spirituality and has lectured throughout North America and several European countries.