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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Profile

elizabeth rhodes

photo of Elizabeth Rhodes


B.A., Westhampton College, University of Richmond, Virgina; M.A., Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College

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How long have you been at Boston College?

I've been at BC since 1987, during which time I've had seven research leaves.

What courses do you teach?

Among the courses I offer at the undergraduate level are:

RL636 Borderlines: Films of Immigration
RL658 Don Quijote and You
RL659 The Hero's Other Half: An Introduction to the Spanish Golden Age
RL662 Violence in Hispanic Culture

and at the graduate level:

RL901 Advanced Textual Analysis
RL931 The Human Interior in Literature: Cervantes, Galdós, García Márquez
RL996 Advanced Film Analysis

What are your research interests?

I'm an early modernist, which means that my research treats fifteenth- through seventeenth-century European culture and history, and my current research is about women's spiritual life stories. During this period, mysticism - the direct experience of God - was very popular in Spain. When women thought they were mystics, their confessors required them to write a first-person narrative describing their lives, as a means to figure out if it was God or the devil (or delusions) at work in them. Because men were thought to have greater mental powers than women at this time, men didn't have to write these texts. This policy produced dozens of narratives recounting women's private lives, a resource we don't have for men. Using contemporary theories of trauma, it's possible to determine that many of these authors had survived abusive experiences. What's interesting is how writing about God allowed them to reveal this information, which would never have come out otherwise. In conjunction with this project, I'm working on the politics of representation in early modern saints' lives, in particular as regards gender.

What are your other commitments on campus?

I'm a survivor advocate on the Sexual Assault Network at BC and the founding faculty member of Heal, the campus support group for student survivors of sexual assault. I'm committed to helping these students graduate successfully, and anyone who needs that kind of support is welcome to come see me, in confidence.

What do you like about teaching at Boston College?

The students. There's nothing better than working with young adults, and my greatest professional pleasure is seeing students have "Aha!" moments of all sorts. Also, in my department we have the opportunity to teach a wide variety of classes to relatively small groups, which is great.