Harrisburg ProgramFriday, October 22

Don Yoder Memorial Lecture in Religious Folklife

Friday, October 22, 7:00 pm–8:15 pm
Harrisburg Ballroom: Lancaster/Getty/Carlisle

  in-person session will be live streamed from Harrisburg
  session will be recorded and available for later viewing online

Sponsored by the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section


Chair: Margaret Kruesi (American Folklife Center, retired)

The Virgin Mary’s Body: Immaculate Rejection
Kay Turner (New York University)Discussant
Norma E. Cantú (Trinity University)

Origin legends associated with Roman Catholic Marian cults often concern the bodily needs and report the miraculous personified actions of “representational” statues of the Virgin. Whether told officially or unofficially, such stories interrogate the thin doctrinal line between body and spirit. They may also provoke debate concerning female embodiment and women’s agency. A case in point is the Church-ratified 1623 legend of the now widely venerated Mexican icon, La Virgen de San Juan, as it was reimagined and contested in a 1987 recounting by Texas-Mexican partera (midwife), Margarita “Maggie” Guerrero. Not only positioning the Virgin as an autonomous actor and providing a unique asynchronous portal into gender and clerical tensions in colonial Mexico, Sra. Guerrero’s version also reads as an autobiographical allegory—and a feminist adumbration—of women’s unheeded healing powers.

Don Yoder (1921–2015) was the ground-breaking scholar who worked to integrate the study of folklife studies into the curriculum of US folkloristic scholarship and pedagogy. The Don Yoder Lecture in Religious Folklife was inaugurated in 2003 by the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section to honor his life and work.