News release
Public Information Office  SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 3/9/04
Bill RobisonRobin NorrisLeft, Bill Robison; right, Robin Norris
      HAMMOND -- The life of an unlikely saint and the Renaissance’s campaign against witches will be spotlighted by Southeastern Louisiana University professors as the university’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month continues.
      In the third week of the celebration hosted by the Southeastern Women’s Coalition, Bill Robison, head of the department of history and political sciences, will talk about “How to Catch Witches: Some Tips from Renaissance Inquisitors,” while English professor Robin Norris’s presentation will be “Inspired by the Feminine Divine: St. Mary of Egypt in the Middle Ages.”
      Norris’s lecture is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. March 16, and Robison will speak at 11 a.m. on March 18. Both lectures are scheduled for Sims Memorial Library.
      A specialist in early medieval literature, Norris began working on the Old English version of the legend of St. Mary of Egypt as part of her dissertation, which was completed at the University of Toronto in 2003. 
      “My investigation of Anglo-Saxon attitudes toward female saints is part of an ongoing project,” she said. 
      Norris said her talk will detail how Mary left a licentious early lifestyle behind to become a hermit in the desert, relying on the Virgin Mary “to protect her from the temptation of sinful memories, from lewd songs to eating meat. 
      “When a monk named Zosimus comes looking for a spiritual father to show him the path to enlightenment, this unlikely saint shows him another way to salvation,” Norris said. 
      Robison’s lecture will examine the paradoxical era in European history from 1450 to 1650 in which the revival of learning associated with the Renaissance coincided with the superstitious frenzy of the Great Witch Hunt. 
      “It will focus in particular upon the methods that inquisition officials used to identify, apprehend, and prosecute the individuals accused of being witches,” Robison said. He will draw examples from contemporary sources, notably “The Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the
Witches)” published around 1486 by inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. 
      The observance of Women's History Month is sponsored by the Southeastern Women's Coalition, the College of Arts and Sciences, the department of English, and the department of history and political science. For additional information, call 985-549-2330 or visit