Gold, Penny Schine 1947–

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Gold, Penny Schine 1947–

(Penny S. Gold)

PERSONAL: Born December 9, 1947, in Bridgeport, CT; daughter of Joseph (a business owner and salesman) and Helen (a pharmacist and high school teacher; maiden name, Schine) Gold; married David L. Amor (a college administrator and teacher), August 20, 1973; children: Jeremy (deceased). Education: University of Chicago, B.A. (cum laude), 1969; Stanford University, M.A., 1970, Ph.D., 1977. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Quilting and other handwork.

ADDRESSES: Home—1054 N. Prairie St., Galesburg, IL 61401. Office—Department of History, Knox College, Galesburg, IL 61401; fax: 309-341-7090. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and educator. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, instructor in history, 1975–76; Knox College, Galesburg, IL, began as instructor, became professor of history, 1976–, chair of Women's Studies Program, 1986–96, 2000–04, History department chair, 1994–99, 2000–02, coordinator of Faculty Development Program, 2002–. University of Iowa, visiting assistant professor, summer, 1982; University of Chicago, visiting associate professor, 1985; senior fellow at Institute for Advanced Studies in Religion, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1997–98. Newberry Library, director of Program in the Humanities, 1983–84; conference, symposium, and workshop presenter and coordinator; consultant; public speaker. Member of editorial board, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 1994–, and H-Judaic (electronic discussion group and newsletter), 1995–. Family Planning Service of Illinois, board member, 1980–83, board president, 1982–83. Temple Sholom board member, 1984–2000, board president, 1990–92.

MEMBER: American Historical Association, Midwest Jewish Studies Association (member of executive committee, 1993–2001; president, 1997–99).

AWARDS, HONORS: Georges Lurcy fellow in France, 1974–75; grants from National Endowment for the Humanities, beginning 1977;resident at Newberry Library, Monticello College Foundation, 1979; honorary fellow in history, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1984–85; award for teaching excellence and campus leadership, Sears-Roebuck Foundation, 1988; grant from American Academy of Religion, 1990; Lilly fellow, 1991; Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award, 1999.


The Lady and the Virgin: Image, Attitude, and Experience in Twelfth-Century France, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1985.

(Editor, with Benjamin C. Sax) Cultural Visions: Essays in the History of Culture, Rodopi (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2000.

(With John Goldsmith and John Komlos) The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2001.

Making the Bible Modern: Children's Bibles and Jewish Education in Twentieth-Century America, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2004.

Also author of booklets and pamphlets including Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey 1964–1989. Contributor to books, including Sexual Practices and the Medieval Church, edited by James Brundage and Vern Bullough, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1982; Gender and Religion, edited by William H. Swatos, Jr., Transaction Books (New Brunswick, NJ), 1993; Advocacy in the Classroom, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996; and The Family Track: Keeping Your Faculties While You Mentor, Teach, and Serve, edited by Constance Coiner and Diane Hume George, University of Illinois Press (Champaign, IL), 1998. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Sociology of Religion, Chronicle of Higher Education, History Teacher, and Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies.

SIDELIGHTS: Penny Schine Gold told CA: "Several years ago, when a book I had written came up in a family conversation, my son asked, 'So, Mom, you're an author?' His question opened a consciousness of the place of writing in my life. Yes, I was not only a teacher and a scholar, but an 'author.' Writing was no longer something I did because someone had given me an assignment or because it was the necessary means to gain recognition and validation in my profession. I realized that writing was something I now did easily and in which I took pleasure. But I wasn't a natural. Here's how it happened.

"In long ago pre-computer days in college, I always wrote assigned papers at the last possible moment. For a short essay, I'd set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., put on some quiet music, push out some handwritten prose, look it over for mistakes and small improvements, and then type it up on my portable Smith-Corona electric. For a longer paper, I just wouldn't go to sleep, and would do the same thing through the night. In all of college, I never had a teacher who asked to see a first draft, or who gave time for revision of an already submitted paper. As I progressed through graduate school, it became clear that I needed to develop new writing habits. A dissertation couldn't be written in one night, and the standard of writing expected was much higher. Three people from my graduate school years helped me see writing as a craft, not a chore, and they helped me find my own voice through writing.

"My dissertation advisor, Alan Bernstein, was the first person to take my writing seriously, and he gave me the instruction I needed to improve. He marked up drafts line by line, teaching me writing on each page. I also had the good fortune to marry someone who was a better writer than me, David Amor. David's interest in the content of my work, his familiarity with historical method and with the academy, along with his editorial gift—these have all advanced my work and honed my writing.

"One afternoon during my fifth year in graduate school, I was chatting with a new assistant professor, Carolyn Chappell Lougee, in her office. At one point she stopped the conversation with a quick 'Excuse me,' jotted down a note, opened a drawer, and threw it in. When I looked quizzical, she explained, 'These are notes for my next projects. Whenever I think of something, I jot it down and put it in the drawer.' I felt something turn in me. You mean you can be immersed in one project while also thinking of a second and even a third? You mean that writing can begin with a process as casual as notes stuffed in a drawer? This experience was a turning point for me—seeing writing not as a chore that had to get done, but as a process in which to engage.

"Finally, and most fundamental to my becoming a writer, was the world that opened when I was given permission to write on what really mattered to me. Many dissertation advisors guide their students to do some narrow slice of research in the area with which the advisor is most familiar. But Alan enthusiastically supported my choice of a topic far from his own expertise, allowing me to pursue a subject close to my own life. It was 1971, and I had become deeply involved in the women's movement. Choosing a research topic that would allow me to connect my personal concerns with my professional life was the way I found to make the professional work meaningful. And so was launched the research that occupied me for a dozen years, The Lady and the Virgin: Image, Attitude, and Experience in Twelfth-Century France.

"Much of my writing has been for a scholarly audience, an audience easy to write for because it's the closest to who I am. This is my most self-indulgent writing—asking questions of deep urgency to me, pursuing the answers until I'm satisfied. The path from one project to another parallels issues in my life: gender in the work that began in the 1970s, Jewish identity in the mid-80s. That other people read these books is gratifying, but not the most important part of the endeavor for me. I've also written with the goal of pleasing others, also satisfying. I've recently taken on the genre of academic 'self-help'—cowriting The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure and doing similar work for an audience on my own campus. I have enjoyed this opportunity to help people newly entering and making their way into academia. This, too, has been writing from the heart.

"In mid-March 2003, the copyedited manuscript of Making the Bible Modern: Children's Bibles and Jewish Education in Twentieth-Century America arrived at my house, with a three-week turnaround deadline. My mother, living in a nursing home near me, was in the final days of her life, dying from lung cancer. My father had died just three weeks before. The press was generous in their extension of the deadline, but the task awaited me still. A month after my mother's death, I picked up the manuscript, wanting to be done with the project. Working out the final nuances of prose gave me no pleasure. I wanted my parents back and the book dead—this is how I felt.

"Would there be another book after this one? I had been jotting down ideas and gathering references for a next book since midway through the Bible book, and I had loved the feeling of another project quietly developing in the background. But I now had no drive to begin something new. As time passed, and a sabbatical approached, it slowly seemed possible that I might try writing again. So there it stood on my to-do list for summer 2004—to go through the box of little notes and references and see where it might take me.

"But it was not to be. On July 17, 2004, my son Jeremy died in a car accident; he was eighteen years old. In the wake of Jeremy's death, scholarly writing has left my life. The kinds of questions that fuel research and that are answered through scholarly writing are no longer questions that engage me deeply. There is writing in my life, urgent writing, but it is writing in personal notebooks—for my eyes only—in which I try to cope with grief, guilt, and despair.

"In the year after Jeremy's death, the task of getting through each day was eased by handwork, particularly quilting. The colors, shapes, and simple hand motion were calming, and kept my mind occupied in a way that helped keep at bay images of Jeremy's accident and of his dead body. Reading, which had always been such a central part of my life, was largely gone. So I kept sewing, hours and hours of hand applique and hand quilting.

"Recently, good fortune led me to quilting design teachers Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle, who have opened to me a world of communicating through art rather than through writing. My best writing has always been spurred by questions that could only be answered through research and writing; I no longer have inside me these kinds of questions. Instead I now am pushed by feelings, which can be clarified and expressed through the process of making art. This is what I am learning to do in new forms of quilting.

"May Jeremy's memory be a blessing—to many people and in many ways, including how I now live with his memory in the work of my hands."



American Historical Review, April, 2005, Paul Gutjahr, review of Making the Bible Modern: Children's Bibles and Jewish Education in Twentieth-Century America, pp. 510-11.

American Jewish History, June, 2003, Jonathan Krasner, review of Making the Bible Modern, p. 325.

Publishers Weekly, November 17, 2003, review of Making the Bible Modern, p. S15.


Penny Schine Gold Home Page, http://faculty/ (July 26, 2005).