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News Release

Conference to Explain Moravian History and Culture

Thirty–four leading scholars to present at Moravian College in historic Bethlehem, Pa.

Bethlehem, Pa., October 1, 2008—Leading scholars from around the world will convene at Moravian College's Hurd Campus in historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Friday October 10 for a two-day Biennial Conference on Moravian History and Culture. The conference will examine the history and culture of the Moravians (also known as Unitas Fratrum or Herrnhuters) within their context. This biennial conference is sponsored by Moravian College, the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Pietism at the University of Halle, Germany.

Thirty-four leading scholars participating from North America, Nicaragua, South Africa, Denmark, United Kingdom, and Germany, will present papers on a wide range of topics encompassing the founding of the renewed Moravian Church in Herrnhut, Saxony, in 1722, the establishment of a transatlantic Moravian network and its preservation throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and more recent Moravian history in the 20th century. The specific themes for this conference are: Moravians and Native Americans; Rituals and Practices; The Historical Self-Concept of the Moravians; Encounters with Foreign Worlds; Transatlantic Networks; and The Origins of Subjectivity in Autobiography and Biography (Moravian Lebensläufe or Memoirs).

The Conference on Moravian History and Culture is a joint venture with the 8th Annual Moravian Music Conference, which starts a day earlier (October 9) and runs parallel to the conference on Friday. For other related events, registration, and detailed programs, please visit the web site: http://home.moravian.edu/public/hist/conference/ .

The conference will begin with a welcome from Moravian College’s Dean Gordon Weil, followed by  the opening session on Moravians and Native Americans at 9 a.m., chaired by Moravian’s Jamie Paxton, assistant professor of history.  This discussion will feature presentations by professors Rowena McClinton from Southern Illinois University; Claudette Robertson from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater; Mark Everingham from Southwestern University and University of Wisconsin, Green Bay; and Edwin Taylor from the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.  Following the presentations, Professor Jean Soderlund of Lehigh University will provide commentary.     

A session titled “Rituals and Practices” will follow, led by Kelly Denton-Borhaug, assistant professor of religion at Moravian College.  Professor Jared Burkholder of Grace College will present, followed by Professor Bettina Hessler of Northwestern University and Peter Vogt from Niesky, Germany.  Moravian’s Heikki Lempa, associate professor of history will close the session with comments.  Lunch and a lecture/recital by the Singers from the Old Economy Village will be held from 12:30 to 2: 30 p.m.

The last session of the day, “The Historical Self-Concept of the Moravians,” chaired by Professor Bart Shaw of Cedar Crest College, will be held at 3 p.m.  Lecturers include Professors Julie Tomberlin Weber from Winston-Salem; Keri Davies from Nottingham Trent University, UK; Craig D. Atwood of Wake Forest University; and Peter Yoder from the University of Iowa.  Bucknell University’s Katherine Faull will offer closing comments.  The program will conclude with a concert will be held at the Central Moravian Church at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 11 will begin at 9 a.m. with discussions on “Encounters with Foreign Worlds” chaired by Professor Thomas Cragin of Muhlenberg College.  This will include presentations by professors Pia Schmid of the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany; Helen Blouet from Syracuse University;  Thomas Ruhland of the University of Potsdam, Germany; and Crystal Jannecke from Stellenbosch University, South Africa.  Professor Bethany Wiggin from the University of Pennsylvania will close with comments.

At 1:30 p.m. a session on “Transatlantic Networks” will chaired by Professor Michael Baylor from Lehigh University.  Professors Alexander Schunka of the University of Stuttgart, Germany; Riddick Weber from Winston-Salem; and Jonathan Yonan from Eastern University will present, and Gregg Roeber of Pennsylvania State University will provide commentary.

The last lectures will be on “The Origins of Subjectivity in Autobiography and Biography,” chaired by Paul Peucker of the Moravian Archives.  Presenters include professors Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger from Lafayette College, Holly M. Kent of Lehigh University, Andrew Burgess from the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, and Anne Folke Henningsen of the University of Aarhus, Denmark.  Professor Robert Beachy of Goucher College will offer closing comments.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.