Something in us, while the millennia
monotonously pass and pass,
hungers to offer up
our specks of life as fragile tesserae
toward the vast mosaic--
To be, ourselves, imbedded in its fabric,
as if, it was from that we were broken off.
Variations on a Theme by Rilke
A historian by training and biographer by craft all of my research has focused on the exploration of women’s lives, specifically on the intersection of religion and women’s creativity. I have explored how the experience of the sacred allowed them to challenge societal stereotypes and expresses themselves through social action or intellectual production. My five biographies and four edited books examine this theme.
For almost three decades I served as a member of the history faculty of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the public honors college of the state of Maryland, until I began a stint as academic dean of Oxford College of Emory University, one of Emory’s two undergraduate colleges. I was prepared for this teaching and administrative work by various institutions---The College of New Rochelle, a woman’s Catholic college, and the interdisciplinary Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory which granted me a Ph.D. Two other experiences were important in my formation---two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica and in retirement two years working as executive director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory.
In addition to my books I have published some fifty articles, chapters and reviews and am a contributing writer for the National Catholic Reporter. I have lectured widely on topics related to biography, spirituality and poetry at the University of London, the Washington National Portrait Gallery, Kings College, London, Emory University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Georgetown University, the Washington National Cathedral, Virginia Theological Seminary, The Atlanta Institute for Spirituality, the Washington Theological Consortium, the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s College, Indiana, The University of St. Thomas, Loyola University, Chicago, Fordham University and at many churches. I have led pilgrimages to England and Italy and directed workshops and retreats at Emory University, The Episcopal Divinity School, Washington National Cathedral, the Retreat House, Chelmsford, England, and the Centre for Christian Spirituality, Cape Town and the city of Todi, Italy.
I was the founder and president of the Evelyn Underhill Association for many years and served on the boards of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Intefaith Voices, and Associates for Religion and Intellectual Life, and am a member of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality and Biographers International. I have been the fortunate recipient of many grants, including from the American Historical Association, The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Emory University, The University of Notre Dame, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Philosophical Society, The American Theological Association, Radcliffe College, Fulbright-Hays, and the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical, and Cultural Research. The College of New Rochelle, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and Emory University have all given me achievement awards and Oxford College of Emory University established a Scholar’s Lecture Series in my name.
I am married to Richard Roesel and with him am the parent of four adult daughters.