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Conversations in Conflict Studies- Margaret Susan Thompson

400A Eggers Hall

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"Sacraments as Weapons: Kyriarchy and Women’s Resistance in the 19th-Century Convent." Margaret Susan Thompson, Associate Professor, History and Political Science, Syracuse University.  
This talk will focus on extensive and repeated examples in 19th-century conventual archives of sacraments being used by clerics—and sometimes by female superiors, as well—as weapons to control both the spirituality and the behavior of Catholic sisters. These nuns repeatedly experienced the sacraments—or, more accurately, the deprivation of sacraments—as instruments of power and control wielded by priests and hierarchs against vowed women who were considered to be deviant or insufficiently submissive. The intent is to analyze the phenomenon as more than just a collection of exceptional or arbitrary cases, but rather as systemic and oppressive behavior. What might appear as an aberrant example if the focus is on only one community can emerge as part of an important pattern by using a broader analytical lens. This is a work in progress, for which feedback is both welcome and appreciated!

Conversations in Conflict Studies is a weekly educational speaker series for students, faculty, and the community. The series, sponsored by PARCC, draws its speakers from Syracuse University faculty, national and international scholars and activists, and PhD students. Pizza is served. Follow us on Twitter @PARCCatMaxwell, tweet #ConvoInConflict.

If you require accommodations, please contact Deborah Toole by email at or by phone at 315.443.2367.

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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

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To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.