For Immediate Release

Contact: Deborah Gilleran

GCU Offers Lecture on Joan of Arc: Unlikely Nation-Builder, Archetypal Saint

Lakewood, N.J., Apr. 7, 2008—Joan of Arc is emblematic of her age and a flesh-and-blood example of the mythos of hero. Join Robin Gower, J.D., Ph.D., Georgian Court University associate professor of history, as she explores this enigmatic figure in her presentation “Joan of Arc: Sanctity, Nationalism, and Revisionist History” on Monday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre on the university’s Lakewood campus. The program is free and open to the public, but reservations are required by calling 732.987.2263 or e-mailing

Joan of Arc resonates globally as a hero and nationally as the soul of the French people. She helped to establish France as a nation and its residents as a chosen people. Concentrating on the earliest perceptions of Joan of Arc and the effects of her 15th-century campaign, Dr. Gower will discuss how she became an emblem of French patriotism for groups on both the left and right wings of the political spectrum.

“Joan is not so much a polarizing figure as a controversial one,” says Dr. Gower, who will examine the connection between holiness and political expediency, “because both in her time and in our own, religious people have questioned the use of force to achieve political ends. Even if we accept violent action as a compromise that is necessary in a fallen world, it remains an uncomfortable evidence of sanctity.” Dr. Gower explains that Joan insisted that she herself never killed anyone, but she certainly was a catalyst to battle. “She is also controversial because her mission suggests that God can favor one community or nation over another on a purely dynastic issue,” says Dr. Gower.

Dr. Gower will discuss the issue of obedience in Joan’s life: she was obedient to established hierarchies both in the church and in the world, but also obedient to personal revelation. “Joan provides an example of legitimate resistance to authority, and demonstrates the limitations on human ability to discern the will of God,” explains Dr. Gower. “She also demonstrates God's use of unlikely tools and undistinguished people to accomplish God's purposes. Joan remains, however, very much a hero of the French nation.”

A third area of exploration will be the concept of “right order” in society. Joan’s revelation led her to believe that the world is ruled well and peace is maintained when each individual and each group fulfills a divinely prescribed role. “This is a proposition that is reexamined and redefined in almost every generation: what is right order in this particular historical context?” Dr. Gower concludes.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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