ACMRS Outstanding Graduate Student Lecture: Alaya Swann

ACMRS Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award-Winner: Alaya Swann
Alaya Swann, ASU graduate student in English will be presenting her award-winning paper at ASU before she goes to the Medieval Congress at Western Michigan University to present at the Medieval Institute in May.

"Navigating "That Narrow Space": Mystical Midwifery and Birgitta of Sweden"
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:00 PM
Coor Hall, Room 4403
ASU Tempe Campus
Saint Birgitta of Sweden was a fourteenth century mother, widow, and visionary who faced many obstacles in validating herself to her contemporaries as a true channel for the visions and words she believed God had sent to her. Although women were traditionally and doctrinally forbidden from preaching and sacerdotal duties, medieval scholarship has unearthed a number of ways women visionaries worked around this exclusion. This paper examines how the midwife figure might provide one model for the construction of spiritual authority for Birgitta, especially in her desired role as guide to the spiritual rebirth of souls. Midwives were responsible for making vital decisions about spiritual matters in the course of their regular duties, and in some cases their spiritual responsibilities were considered more important than simply saving the lives of mother and child. Birgitta's Revelations and Vitae contain a number of descriptions of midwifery in conjunction with the exercise of spiritual power, allowing us to consider how mystical midwifery might provide a model for female spiritual authority.

About the ACMRS Graduate Student Travel Award:
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) announces a research award for the outstanding paper written by an ASU, NAU, or UA graduate student working in any aspect of Medieval or early Renaissance Studies. The award provides up to $500 toward the travel expenses of the student to attend the International Congress on Medieval Studies sponsored by the Medieval Institute and held every year in May at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. *Please note that in order to receive the award you must be able to attend the next Medieval Congress as posted on their Web site to present (
The conference is an important international meeting of scholars engaged in the study of Medieval and early Renaissance culture. The quality of the conference has attracted numerous international participants. The Program Committee, however, has continued to welcome the participation of graduate students and junior scholars, making this conference one of the best forums for those beginning their scholarly careers. In support of the ACMRS research award, the Medieval Institute will guarantee a place in an appropriate session on the program for the graduate student selected and will waive all fees for registration, as well as provide for conference-sponsored meals and housing. The winning paper will also be included in the ACMRS Spring lecture series. Applications should consist of a 15-page paper on any subject suitable to the Kalamazoo program and the name and contact information of a faculty mentor ACMRS may consult regarding your work. For more information about the application process, contact the ACMRS Outreach Coordinator ([email protected]). Applications should be emailed to Dr. Robert Bjork, Director, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Arizona State University, at [email protected] by the application due date.

Navigating "That Narrow Space": Mystical Midwifery and Birgitta of Sweden

Coor Hall, Room 4403 (Tempe Campus)