Coptics Studies: Past Events

Spring 2009

Claremont Graduate University
The School of Religion
and the Council for Coptic Studies

cordially invite you to a public lecture in two parts

(1) The Role of Women in Developing Coptic Visual Culture
(2) Mother Irini’s Vision for Coptic Spiritual Identity

by Dr. Nelly van Doorn-Harder
Surjit Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana

Sunday, March 22, 2009
2:30 pm Social and Refreshments
3:00 pm Performance by Coptic Church Ecclesiastical Choirs
3:30-5:30 pm Lecture and other program items

Mudd Theater, Claremont School of Theology
1325 N. College Avenue (x Foothill Blvd)
Claremont, CA 91711

Abstract of Part 1: Icons and depictions of formative events such as the Flight to Egypt are among the most recognizable aspects of Coptic visual culture. Each community within the Coptic Church has put its own imprint on various dynamic expressions of Coptic faith and piety. The lecture will highlight the specific role of women in the formation of Coptic visual culture.

Abstract of Part 2: Throughout her monastic life, Mother Irini, the Superior of St. Mercurius (Abu Saifein) Abbey in Cairo, was legendary for her exemplary life of prayer and her visionary insights. It was not until after her death in 2006 that the scope and impact of her vision for Coptic spirituality and identity became apparent. The nuns of her abbey are executing her spiritual testament which offers a blueprint for the position of women within the Coptic Church.

Dr. Nelly van Doorn-Harder held faculty positions in the Netherlands, Egypt, Indonesia, and the United States. Her research straddles issues concerning women and religion and those concerning minorities and human rights in Muslim countries. She has done her main fieldwork in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; specializing in Coptic Christianity of Egypt and Islam in Indonesia. She has authored numerous publications in these areas, including four books entitled: Contemporary Coptic Nuns; Between Desert and City, edited with Kari Vogt; Women Shaping Islam; and Coping with Evil in Religion and Culture, edited with Lourens Minnema.

Inquiries may be addressed to Dr. S. Michael Saad, Chair, Council for Coptic Studies, Claremont Graduate University, e-mail:

2014 Claremont Graduate University 150 E. 10th St., Claremont, CA 91711 (909) 621-8000 Campus Safety Emergency Info Campus Map/Driving Directions