Education: University of Toronto, Ph.D., 1997.
Academic. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, department of Greek, Latin, and classical studies, associate professor.
Catherine Conybeare completed her formal education in 1997 after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. She then entered academia, becoming an associate professor at Bryn Mawr University in the department of Greek, Latin, and classical studies. Her research interests include history and culture of the late antiquity, contemporary theory, and early Christian studies. She lectures in courses relating to epistolography, Augustine and the classical tradition, Roman satire, the philosophical dialogues of Cicero, and historical approaches to gender studies. In a personal statement in her profile on the Bryn Mawr College Web site, Conybeare stated: "I love graduate teaching. Every seminar I've taught here has been incredibly stimulating, whether it's taken me back to material I thought I knew well already, or prompted me to engage with new texts."
Conybeare published her first book, Paulinus Noster: Self and Symbols in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola, in 2000. The book covers the written accounts of Paulinus of Nola, a Naples-born man who became a Roman senator and eventually came to be considered as a saint. Conybeare analyzes his letters and poetry to show how he viewed himself and fellow Christians in a different light from the common view of Romans of the late fourth century and early fifth century.
David Brakke, reviewing the book in Church History, commented that "even from this brief summary it should be clear that Conybeare's gracefully written and elegantly composed book will appeal to a variety of readers, not only church historians, but also historians of literature, classicists, as well as ethicists, philosophers, and theologians interested in concepts of the self." Brakke noted that the author "displays a remarkably sensitive ear for the spirituality of Paulinus and his friends" and gives a "careful and sympathetic reading" of Paulinus's letters.
In 2006 Conybeare published The Irrational Augustine, her second book. Conybeare looks at Cassiciacum, written by Augustine, the bishop of Hippo in the late fourth century and late fifth century. The prose introduces theological and philosophical questions that came to define Augustine's scholarly contributions in these areas.
Todd Breyfogle, writing in the Canadian Journal of History, mentioned that the author's "careful philological and literary consideration is masterly without ever being laboured." Breyfogle also noted that her "treatment is so strong and self-contained that it would be churlish to criticize her for not looking much beyond the dialogues themselves. But thematically and generically, several avenues remain for further exploration." Breyfogle concluded that, "in short, this work is a model of what it means to reconsider Augustine on his own terms—respectfully, while recognizing Augustine's sophisticated self-presentation. Conybeare gives us a thoughtful, inquisitive Augustine, a portrait which should prompt us to look at the apparent dogmatism of his later works with fresh, unjaded eyes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Journal of History, spring, 2007, Todd Breyfogle, review of The Irrational Augustine.
Church History, September 1, 2002, David Brakke, review of Paulinus Noster: Self and Symbols in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola, p. 642.
Classical Review, January 1, 2002, review of Paulinus Noster, p. 305.
Journal of Religion, October 1, 2002, Joseph T. Lienhard, review of Paulinus Noster, p. 631.
Journal of Theological Studies, April 1, 2002, Carolinne White, review of Paulinus Noster, p. 346.
Times Higher Education Supplement, December 6, 2002, Peter Walsh, review of Paulinus Noster, p. 30.
Bryn Mawr College Web site,http://www.brynmawr.edu/ (June 5, 2008), author profile.