Department of English

Graduate Student Ashley Squires wins Mary Baker Eddy fellowship

Sun, May 22, 2011

The Department of English would like to congratulate Ashley Squires on winning the Mary Baker Eddy fellowship. The stipend of $2,800 will allow Ashley to spend the next year completing her dissertation, Religious Healing in the Progressive Era: Literary Responses to Christian Science.

Religious Healing in the Progressive Era looks at the writings of Mark Twain, Willa Cather, and Theodore Dreiser on the Christian Science movement, which was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the 1860's and flourished at the turn of the twentieth century, attracting widespread public attention and often condemnation. Ashley demonstrates, however, that responses to the movement were complex and indicative of ongoing public debates about the cultural status of religion, shifting expectations about science and medical care, and the public role of women.  Each of these authors contributed in their own ways to these debates as cautious supporters, ambivalent observers, or vehement critics of Christian Science.  

The Mary Baker Eddy Library houses an enormous archive of primary documents concerning the life of its founder and the history of the Church. Ashley is particularly interested in the unpublished primary accounts of converts to Christian Science as well as the reams of newspaper clippings that will help her get a sense of the narratives about the movement that were being generated by both critics and supporters.  This will also give Ashley the opportunity to learn more about the serial biography of Eddy that Willa Cather wrote for McClure's by gaining access to the papers of one of Cather's collaborators. Ashley will spend one month in residence at the Library in Boston, MA, conducting primary research for her dissertation  

Ashley Squires is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is completing a dissertation entitled "Religious Healing in the Progressive Era:  Literary Responses to Christian Science" under the direction of Philip Barrish and Brian Bremen.  Her most recent article, "The Wealthiest Man in the Empire:  Ben–Hur as Model of Christian Capitalism" is forthcoming from Arizona Quarterly in 2012.  

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