Poor, Sara S. 1963-
Poor, Sara S. 1963-
Born April 10, 1963, in Orange, NJ, daughter of Richard S. (a business manager) and Suzanne D. (in public relations and advertising) Poor. Education: Cornell University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1985; Duke University, Ph.D., 1994. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Presbyterian. Hobbies and other interests: Cycling, hiking, swing dancing, gardening.
Home—Lawrenceville, NJ. Office—Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, Princeton University, 203 E. Pyne, Princeton, NJ 08544; fax: 609-258-5597.
Academic. Duke University, Durham, NC, instructor in German and literature, 1987-95; Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, American studies lecturer, 1995-96; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, assistant professor of German studies and gender studies, 1996-2002; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, assistant professor, 2002-06, associate professor of German literature, 2006—. Duke/Berlin exchange fellow, 1989-90; University of Pennsylvania, Mellon postdoctoral fellow, 1999-2000; Princeton University, Charles Osgood Bicentennial preceptor, 2005-08; Behrman fellow, Princeton Humanities Council, 2006-08.
American Association of Teachers of German, German Studies Association, Medieval Academy, Modern Languages Association (division executive committee of German literature before 1700, 2005—; committee on the status of women in the profession, 2006—), Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship (advisory board member, 2001-05), Society for Medieval German Studies, Young Medievalist Germanists in North America, Delaware Valley Medieval Association.
Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book: Gender and the Making of Textual Authority, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.
(Editor, with Jana K. Schulman) Women and Medieval Epic: Gender, Genre, and the Limits of Epic Masculinity, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of articles, translations, and book reviews to journals, including Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, College Literature, Exemplaria, Women in German Yearbook, Medieval Feminist Newsletter, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Speculum, Society for Medieval German Studies Newsletter, New German Critique, Polygraph, and Journal of Religion. Book review editor of Medieval Review, 2003-06. Associate editor of Medieval Feminist Forum, 2002-04, then editor, 2004-05.
Sara S. Poor is an American educator and German language scholar. Poor completed her doctoral studies at Duke University and entered a career in academia, lecturing on German literature and Medieval studies. Poor contributes regularly to a number of scholarly journals.
Poor published her first book, Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book: Gender and the Making of Textual Authority, in 2004. The book covers the life and works of Mechthild of Magdeburg, a female German mystic who thrived in the Medieval period. Mechthild of Magdeburg virtually disappeared from literary records over the years, having written a number of texts on religion and mysticism. Many scholars originally attributed this to the fact that she was a woman. However, Poor argues that this was not the case. In the book she delineates three main causes of this disappearance, saying that it was a combination of excelling in a newer form of writing that emphasized the dialogue with God and deemphasized the author of the text; due to the ways books were circulated around distances according to the topic, the author of individual texts in those groupings were oftentimes not included as the topic itself was the interest, not the author; and she was most likely conflated with Mechthild of Hackebom, an author of the time who was also popular and shared the same name. Ultimately, Poor claims that it was her literary success that led to her personal obscurity. Many of Mechthild of Magdeburg's writings are analyzed in the book. Poor also addresses a number of other issues relating to Mechthild's life, her position in society, and the era itself. These include the role of gender in medieval religious traditions and authority, problems with church leadership, and how books were produced and circulated regionally during that time. Poor also warns that much contemporary scholarship of medieval Europe and women's roles in it are too dependent upon modern understandings of female mystics as defying the male-dominated autocratic church.
Patricia Zimmerman Beckman, writing in Church History, concluded that Poor "exposes ‘alterity’ to remind us that our categories are never fixed. Above all, Poor demonstrates how careful historical and textual work can contribute to a broader understanding of overarching interpretive issues on key figures in the history of Christianity. She submits this detailed account of Mechthild's text as the perfect example to challenge both historical canons and contemporary scholarship's unwitting replication of them. Poor thus provides not only a history of interpretation of one particular medieval religious figure and her text. Rather, she advocates a self-reflective, historical process for future scholarly interpretation."
Sara S. Poor told CA: "Writing is part of the job of being an academician, but it is also, in my view, the best part of the job. And the best thing about academic writing is that it is all about discovery, both through research and during writing. My favorite thing about writing is when new connections, insights, and ideas suddenly emerge while one is writing. It is a very intoxicating and rewarding experience. This wonderful sense of discovery through writing is something I then try to carry over into the classroom and share with students—help them to their own discoveries."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February, 2005, L.J. Rippley, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book: Gender and the Making of Textual Authority, p. 1025; September, 2007, A. Galloway, review of Women and Medieval Epic: Gender, Genre, and the Limits of Epic Masculinity, p. 93.
Church History, December, 2005, Patricia Zimmerman Beckman, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 838; March, 2006, Patricia Zimmerman Beckman, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 181.
German Studies Review, February, 2006, Kamakshi P. Murti, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 156.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, July, 2006, Marianne Kalinke, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 453.
Journal of Religion, October, 2006, Patricia Dailey, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 689.
Journal of Religious History, October, 2005, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book.
Medieval Review, October, 2005, Sean Field, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book.
Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, January, 2006, Fiona Griffiths, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 256.
Times Literary Supplement, December 24, 2004, Bettina Bildhauer, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, p. 38.
Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, Princeton University Web site,http://german.princeton.edu/ (January 14, 2008), author profile.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (July, 2005), Andrew D. Ganaway, review of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book.