Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, a prize-winning historian, prominent public intellectual, and prolific scholar, died in 2007 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. Her writings spanned the disciplines of history, literary criticism, and women’s studies. She founded at Emory University this country’s first Ph.D. program in Women’s Studies. In 2004, she received the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush.
Betsey, as she was affectionately called by her students, began her academic career as a Marxist and feminist. In 1995, she converted to Catholicism. “For secular academics,” she observed, “the language and practice of faith belong to an alien world. Not understanding faith, they are ill prepared to understand conversion to it. Having long participated in the reigning discourse of secular intellectuals, I understand all too well where they are coming from, and I readily acknowledge that indeed ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ More important, however, my long apprenticeship in their world allows me to reflect upon their unreflective assumptions, for those assumptions cut a broad swath through our culture as a whole, challenging faith at every turn. So firm is their hold upon our culture that they are imperceptibly permeating the fabric of faith itself, constantly challenging the faithful to justify and rejustify our beliefs.”
Please join the Christopher Dawson Society on Wednesday, 7 October at 6:30 PM at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for an informal conversation about the role of faith in Fox-Genovese’s intellectual journey and the challenges facing the faithful in the secular academy.
Meetings of the Christopher Dawson Society are open to the public; refreshments will be served.