Felice Lifshitz, PhD, MPhil, MA, BA
Professor, Faculty of Arts - Womens & Gender Studies
I am a medieval historian now cross-appointed to Women's and Gender Studies and to Religious Studies. With an undergraduate degree in Medieval Studies, and graduate degrees in History (a field I chose due to my conviction that it comprehends all disciplines), I have been expanding my own knowledge through teaching in extremely broad ways (chronologically, geographically, and multi-disciplinarily) for over 30 years. I also founded and, for many years, directed the Working Group for Pre-Modern Histories and Cultures at Florida International University (Miami, FL), dedicated to the comparative study of the Global Middle Ages. Among other endeavors, we hosted the 2005 annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America in Miami Beach with a focus on that theme.
The majority of my published scholarship is based on and revolves around the study of surviving manuscripts from Christian communities in Medieval western and central Europe. Although many topics have interested me, two are particularly prominent: the construction and representation of the past, and the histories of women and gender. I have particularly cultivated my understanding of these important fields through my teaching, where I have been able to explore the issues in arenas far beyond the world of medieval European Christians. I am happy to supervise students in medieval European Christian cultural studies but also in the study of other periods, places, and cultural communities should they wish to put gender, historical representation, or both at (or near) the center of their inquiry.
I have previously published extensively on medieval cultural, religious and intellectual history, with a particular focus on saint veneration practices, monastic life and women's history. I am currently juggling three different ongoing projects.
I have become increasingly interested in cinema as a mode of historical representation. My most recent publications along these lines are "Epistemology and Representation in Historical Film and Television: How the Gendered Past is Constructed in Knowledge and Representation" (with Siobhan Craig and Carol Donelan), Gender and History 30 (2018): 1 - 25 (in a special issue of the journal which I co-edited), and "'A Piece of Cachou called Ivanhoe': Elizabeth Taylor, Medievalist Historical Film, and American Jewish Life,” Journal of Jewish Studies LXX (2019): 375 - 397.
I am publishing (with Routledge) a collection of some of my earliest articles under the title Writing Normandy: Tales of Saints and Rulers. I have written a new article for the collection, entitled "Women and Gender in Dudo of St. Quentin's Gesta Normannorum." I am currently working on a second new contribution to the collection, a 24-years-after reconsideration of the issues in my "Beyond Positivism and Genre: "Hagiographical" Texts as Historical Narratives, Viator 25 (1994): 95 - 113. I presented a draft of the new essay as a keynote to the "Comparative Hagiology" pre-conference workshop at the 2019 American Academy of Religion/Society for Biblical Literature meeting in San Diego in November 2019.
European Print Culture
In 2017-2018, I co-curated (with Joseph F. Patrouch) an exhibition at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library of the University of Alberta, whose published catalogue is available as Salt, Sword, and Crozier: Books and Coins from the Prince-Bishopric of Salzburg (c. 1500 - c. 1800). Our excavation of the Peel collection for this exhibition unearthed a number of unknown yet significant books (such as an elementary textbook of canon law) about which I am writing a series of articles.
I have taught a wide variety of European and comparative history courses, but now at the University of Alberta I focus on themes such as Feminism and Religion, Representations of Girls and Women, History of Feminist Thought, Feminism and Historical Film, and Women and Gender in the Pre-Modern World. Although I have not been able to reflect this in the formal course titles, I am committed to a robust inclusion of Womanist perspectives in all of these classes.
In Fall 2019, my History of Feminist Thought class (WGS 301) engaged in a "Wikipedia Improvement Project." I hope to utilize this approach in all future iterations of that class.
In Winter 2020 I will teach "Religion and Violence" at the 200 level.
In Fall 2020 I will teach a "Gender Research Workshop" at the 500 level.
In Winter 2021 I will teach "Feminist Historiography" and "Women Theologians," both at the 400/500 levels.
I love to travel and, as an act of shameless self-promotion, I will state here that nothing would make me happier than an invitation to speak in a country that I have never visited....and there are a lot of them!
GSJ 508 - Feminist Historiography
Examines contemporary and historical approaches to writing feminist histories of a variety of regions and time periods.
WGS 298 - Critical Issues
This course offers an introduction to select issues in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. A variable content course, which may be repeated if topics vary.
WGS 301 - History of Feminist Thought
Historical study of selected feminist writers and activists. Emphasis is on European and North American feminist thought up to the mid twentieth century. Prerequisite: Any 100 or 200 level WGS course, or consent of department.
WGS 315 - Histories of Gender
Introduction to a range of practices and ideas concerning women, gender, and kinship that characterized societies and cultures around the globe before the twentieth century. Prerequisite: Any 100 or 200 level WGS course, or consent of department.
WGS 498 - Special Topics
Prerequisite: Any 100 or 200 level WGS course, or departmental consent.