Diefendorf, Barbara B. 1946- (Barbara Boonstoppel Diefendorf)

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Diefendorf, Barbara B. 1946- (Barbara Boonstoppel Diefendorf)

PERSONAL:

Born December 19, 1946, in Oakland, CA; married, 1972. Education: University of California, Berkeley, A.B., 1968, M.A., 1970, Ph.D., 1978.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of History, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of New Hampshire, Durham, assistant professor of humanities, 1979-80; Boston University, Boston, MA, assistant professor, 1980-86, associate professor of history, 1986—.

MEMBER:

American Historical Association, Renaissance Society of America, Society for French Historical Studies, Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Society for Reformation Research, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Fellow of National Endowment for the Humanities, 1983-84, and American Council of Learned Societies, 1987-88; Nancy Lyman Roelker prize, 1983, for article "Widowhood and Remarriage in Sixteenth-Century Paris"; New England Historical Association book prize, 1992, and National Huguenot Society Biennial Book Prize, 1991-92, both for Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris; Nancy Lyman Roelker prize, Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, 1996, for article "Give Us Back Our Children"; J. Russell Major prize, American Historical Association, 2005, for From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris.

WRITINGS:

Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century: The Politics of Patrimony, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1983.

Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor, with Carla Hesse) Culture and Identity in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800): Essays in Honor of Natalie Zemon Davis, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1993.

From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to history journals.

SIDELIGHTS:

In From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris, Barbara B. Diefendorf challenges the view that the enclosure of female religious orders after the French Wars of Religion was essentially misogynistic and imposed on women against their own interests. She details many instances in which nuns actively embraced asceticism, arguing however that this cloistered life was far from passive. Diefendorf discusses the role of Barbe Acarie in establishing the Carmelite order in Paris, which prompted the later creation of the Capucine and Ursuline orders. Drawing on the spiritual autobiographies written by many of these nuns, Diefendorf describes their daily experiences and their views on piety. As she also explains, many women who entered religious orders were from the elite classes and had strong managerial skills which they put to use in numerous ways, from reforming convents to leading classes in spirituality. Summarizing Diefendorf's thesis, Journal of Ecclesiastical History contributor Alison Forrestal observed that "the women whose lives leap from this book were fundamentally involved in the growth of religious orders, spiritual devotions, teaching and charity, and used their material resources, common sense and the wisdom of experience to shape the religious practice and beliefs of their society."

By about 1650, as Diefendorf makes clear, social changes had redirected many convents' focus from contemplative life to charitable works, such as visiting the poor and tending the sick. Reviewing From Penitence to Charity in Historian, Mack P. Holt commented that "not only does Diefendorf show how significant female contributions were to the Catholic Reformation in France, she shows how this participation changed over the course of the period. Based on extensive research in published and unpublished sources, this is a very important book."

From Penitence to Charity received abundant praise. Renaissance Quarterly contributor Larissa Juliet Taylor called it "one of the most important studies of the Catholic Reform to date," while Elizabeth Rapley, writing in Catholic Historical Review, admired the eloquence and rigor of Diefendorf's convincing argument. For Church History reviewer Keith P. Luria, Diefendorf's analysis is "vital for understanding the importance of women in the Catholic Reformation." Thomas M. Adams, writing in Journal of Social History, observed that the book is "not only a magnificent work of documentation and scholarship, but a valuable contribution to European social history in its successful blending of the methods of the modern social historian with a rare empathy for the religious vision of the pious women of the Catholic Reformation in Paris." From Penitence to Charity received the American Historical Association's J. Russell Major prize.

Diefendorf's previous book, Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris, focuses on the French religious wars and the events leading up to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572, when Catholic mobs were incited to slaughter thousands of Protestants in Paris. Journal of Interdisciplinary History contributor Jeffery R. Watt considered the book "a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the French religious wars."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, February, 1993, review of Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris, p. 173; February, 1984, J. Russell Major, review of Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century: The Politics of Patrimony, p. 131; June, 1995, Donald Weinstein, review of Culture and Identity in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800): Essays in Honor of Natalie Zemon Davis, p. 892; June, 2005, Susan E. Dinan, review of From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris, p. 880.

Catholic Historical Review, December, 1996, Charmarie J. Blaisdell, review of Beneath the Cross, p. 704; January 1, 2005, Elizabeth Rapley, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 168.

Church History, December 1, 2006, Keith P. Luria, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 903.

English Historical Review, April, 1995, review of Beneath the Cross, p. 466.

Historian, August, 1984, review of Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century, p. 614; March 22, 2006, Mack P. Holt, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 181.

History: Review of New Books, September, 1983, review of Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century, p. 231.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, July 1, 2005, Alison Forrestal, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 605.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, March 22, 1994, Jeffrey R. Watt, review of Beneath the Cross, p. 712.

Journal of Modern History, March, 1985, review of Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century, p. 129; September, 2006, Hilary J. Bernstein, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 718.

Journal of Social History, December 22, 2006, Thomas M. Adams, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 497.

Religious Studies Review, January, 1985, review of Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century, p. 80; October, 1993, review of Beneath the Cross, p. 360; October, 1994, review of Culture and Identity in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800), p. 382.

Renaissance Quarterly, March 22, 1994, Maarten Ultee, review of Beneath the Cross, p. 180; March 22, 1995, Michael Heath, review of Culture and Identity in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800), p. 157; December 22, 2005, Larissa Juliet Taylor, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 1355.

Sixteenth Century Journal, spring, 1995, review of Culture and Identity in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800), p. 254.

Theological Studies, September 1, 2005, Thomas Worcester, review of From Penitence to Charity, p. 674.

Times Literary Supplement, July 21, 1995, Peter Burke, review of Culture and Identity in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800), p. 24.

ONLINE

Boston University, Department of History Web site,http://www.bu.edu/ (April 25, 2008), Barbara Diefendorf faculty profile.

Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.hnet.org/ (April 25, 2008), Susan R. Boettcher, review of From Penitence to Charity.