Becky R Lee

Department of Humanities

Professor Emerita
Mentoring Coordinator

Office: Vanier College, 235
Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext: 66988
Emailblee@yorku.ca
Primary websitewww.yorku.ca/blee/

Professor Becky Lee's research interests include the intersection of gender and religion, medieval English rituals and customs related to childbirth, lay spirituality in late medieval England, and the methods and theories of women’s history and gender history.

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Professor Becky Lee's teaching and research are concerned with the intersection of religion and gender. A historian of religion, her research interests include medieval English rituals and customs related to childbirth, lay spirituality in late medieval England, and the methods and theories of women’s history and gender history. She is presently working on a book-length study of the churching of women in pre-Reformation England. Her teaching focuses on more contemporary issues, including feminist approaches to religion, the relationship of marginalized groups with religion, and the role of religion in both reinforcing and subverting societal stereotypes and norms.

Degrees

PhD in Religious Studies , University of Toronto
MA in Religion and Culture , Wilfrid Laurier University
BA in Religious Studies , University of Waterloo


Research Interests

History , Religion , Gender

Selected Publications

Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities.Co-editor with Terry Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON.

"On the Margins of Church and Society: Roman Catholic Feminisms in English-speaking Canada." Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities. Ed. B. R. Lee and T. Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON. 2016. 65-105.

'The Historian as Translator of Past Cultures: Translation(s) of Margery Kempe and her Book. Historical Textures of Translation: Traditions, Traumas, Transgressions. Ed. Markus Reisenleitner and Susan Ingram. Milletre: Vienna, 2012. 13-32.

'Gender-critical Studies in Religious Studies.' Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 16.4 (2004): 386-97.

'The medieval hysteric and psychedelic psychologist: A revaluation of the mysticism of Margery Kempe in the light of the transpersonal psychology of Stanislav Grof.' Studia Mystica 23 (2002): 102-126.

'Men’s recollections of a women’s rite: Medieval English men’s recollections regarding the rite of the purification of women after childbirth.' Gender & History 14.2 (2002): 224-241.

Current Research Projects

Women and Religion in Diasporic Canada: Histories, Beliefs, and Practices

Summary: 
Co-edited with Dr. Sailaja Krishnamurti, the essays collected in this volume explore the complex ways that women in diasporic communities have shaped, challenged and transformed diasporic religious practice in Canada’s complex cultural landscape. Contributors reflect on the experiences of women in Canada with diasporic connections to the Americas, Africa, and West, South and East Asia. Women in these communities have navigated the politics of gender, race, and identity in Canada while negotiating relationships to homelands, ethnic communities, and religious groups and institutions.

Description: 
The essays collected here cohere around three main contentions. First, they demonstrate that a deeper understanding of diasporic experiences of displacement, colonialism, migration, and racism is critical for the study of women’s religiosities in Canada. Second, these essays show how women engage with discourses of citizenship and multiculturalism as they shape identities for themselves within Canadian diaspora communities. Third, the essays in this collection reveal how women in Canada are conceptualizing tradition, convention, and authority in diverse ways, challenging some prevailing assumptions about diasporic religion.

The essays in Women and Religion in Diasporic Canada engage with diverse research methods to respond to these questions, drawing on interdisciplinary strategies in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Several chapters use qualitative data drawn from interviews and ethnographic observations. Others examine historical documents and memoirs. Some of the contributions turn to representations of diasporic women in literature, film and television to frame an analysis of religiosity and cultural expression. Above all, contributors offer different analytical perspectives across the various religious and ethnic groups examined here.

Our volume is about self-identified women in ‘diasporic Canada’. We understand women to include cis- and trans- people who self-identify as women. By ‘diasporic Canada’, we refer to ethno-religious communities in Canada that retain some cultural connection to a homeland and/or to other global locations of migration. By focusing on Canada as a location for diasporic communities, rather than tracing multiple nodes of a particular diaspora formation, we are better able to identify how diaspora experiences are shaped in part by discourses of Canadian-ness, and attend to specific histories of migration.

The volume employs diverse theoretical approaches to ‘diaspora’ and uses them to advance the understanding of diasporic women’s religiosities by bringing into focus some of the ways that experiences of migration, religion, and community affect diasporic women’s lives in Canada. To frame the approach of the volume as a coherent whole, we turn to the writings of diaspora theorists Khachig Tölölyan and Lily Cho. Tölölyan writes that diaspora is both “objective and subjective;” he understands the term to refer to “those communities of the dispersed who develop varieties of association that endure at least into their third generation” (2011:8). For Lily Cho, diaspora is “first and foremost a subjective condition marked by the contingencies of long histories of displacements and genealogies of dispossession” (2007:14). She writes that diasporas “are not simply collections of people, communities of scattered individuals bound by some shared history, race or religion, or however we want to break down the definitions and classifications. Rather, they have a relation to power. They emerge in relation to power” (2007:15). Building on this understanding of diaspora as both deeply subjective and historically contingent, the papers will consider how diasporic women’s experiences of gender and religiosity shape, and are shaped by, relations of power, authority, and faith within their communities and in the broader Canadian context.



Project Type: Self-Funded
Role: Co-editor


Start Date:  Month: Jul  Year: 2015
End Date:  Month: Sep  Year: 2017

Collaborator: Dr. Sailaja Krishnamurti
Collaborator Institution: Saint Mary's University, Halifax
Collaborator Role: Co-editor

At the Door of the Church: The Churching of Women in Pre-Reformation England

Summary: 
“At the Door of the Church” recovers and examines the churching rite, and the customs associated with it, as it was practised in England from its origins in the eleventh century to 1552 when its rubrics were changed to reflect Protestant sensibilities.

Description: 
Although the churching rite, and the customs associated with it, is the focus of At the Door of the Church, its scope is much broader. English parish life is viewed through the prism of this women’s rite. Intersecting in this rite are doctrinal developments regarding marriage, married sexuality and clerical celibacy; the shifting boundaries between clerical authority and lay initiative in local parishes; and the negotiation of gender roles. The interaction of these doctrinal developments, jurisdictional manoeuvring and gender negotiations is examined within a framework informed by contemporary ritual theory and studies in popular religion.

Project Type: Self-Funded
Role: Author

Selected Publications

Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities.Co-editor with Terry Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON.

"On the Margins of Church and Society: Roman Catholic Feminisms in English-speaking Canada." Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities. Ed. B. R. Lee and T. Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON. 2016. 65-105.

'The Historian as Translator of Past Cultures: Translation(s) of Margery Kempe and her Book. Historical Textures of Translation: Traditions, Traumas, Transgressions. Ed. Markus Reisenleitner and Susan Ingram. Milletre: Vienna, 2012. 13-32.

'Gender-critical Studies in Religious Studies.' Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 16.4 (2004): 386-97.

'The medieval hysteric and psychedelic psychologist: A revaluation of the mysticism of Margery Kempe in the light of the transpersonal psychology of Stanislav Grof.' Studia Mystica 23 (2002): 102-126.

'Men’s recollections of a women’s rite: Medieval English men’s recollections regarding the rite of the purification of women after childbirth.' Gender & History 14.2 (2002): 224-241.

All Publications

Books

Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities.Co-editor with Terry Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON.

Book Chapters

"On the Margins of Church and Society: Roman Catholic Feminisms in English-speaking Canada." Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities. Ed. B. R. Lee and T. Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON. 2016. 65-105.

'The Historian as Translator of Past Cultures: Translation(s) of Margery Kempe and her Book. Historical Textures of Translation: Traditions, Traumas, Transgressions. Ed. Markus Reisenleitner and Susan Ingram. Milletre: Vienna, 2012. 13-32.

'Lying in.' Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia. 1 vol. Ed. Margaret Schaus. New York and London: Routledge. 2006

Journal Articles

'Between a rock and a hard place: Motherhood in medieval Europe.' Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 7.1 (2005): 152-8.

'Gender-critical Studies in Religious Studies.' Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 16.4 (2004): 386-97.

'The medieval hysteric and psychedelic psychologist: A revaluation of the mysticism of Margery Kempe in the light of the transpersonal psychology of Stanislav Grof.' Studia Mystica 23 (2002): 102-126.

'Men’s recollections of a women’s rite: Medieval English men’s recollections regarding the rite of the purification of women after childbirth.' Gender & History 14.2 (2002): 224-241.

'A company of women and men: Men’s recollections of childbirth in medieval England.' Journal of Family History 27.2 (2002): 92-100.

'The treatment of women in the historiography of late medieval popular religion.' Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 8.4 (1996): 345-60.

Conference Papers

"Vested Interests: The role of the liturgical stole in Roman Catholic Disputes over Priesthood." Material Religion. The American Academy of Religion-Eastern International Region Annual Conference, Toronto, ON. 2013.

"Unwed mothers in medieval England." Histories of Motherhood: International Conference on Mothers and History. Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement. Toronto, ON. 2012.

“Marriage Rites and Churching Rites: Complementary Strategies for Inculcating Clerical Marriage Reforms.” To Have and to Hold: Marriage in Premodern Europe 1200-1700. Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, 2009.

“The Power of Pennies: Churching offerings as a site of the negotiation of power relations.” 39th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI. For the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, 2004.

“Between a rock and a hard place: Motherhood in medieval Europe.” Keynote panel paper, Association for Research on Mothering 7th Annual Conference, Toronto, ON,2003.

“Medieval churching as the site of the negotiation of gender relations.” Annual meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies, Baltimore, Maryland, 2002.

Book Reviews

Hill, Carole. Women and Religion in Late Medieval Norwich. Series: Studies in History, New Series. (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell for The Royal Historical Society, 2010.) In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2012.

Rosenthal, Joel T. Margaret Paston's Piety. The New Middle Ages. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.) In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2011. [http://hdl.handle.net/2022/13396]

Book review of McLaughlin, Megan. Sex, Gender, and Episcopal Authority in an Age of Reform, 1000-1122. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). In Canadian Woman Studies 29 (1/2):195. 2011.

Barr, Beth Allison. The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England. (Woodbridge, Eng., and Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell and Brewer, 2008). In The Catholic Historical Review 96 (1): 114-16. 2010.

Bitel Lisa M. and Felice Lifshitz (eds.). Gender and Christianiity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2009. [http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.baj9928.0905.010]

Green, Monica H. Making Women’s Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology (Oxford University Press, 2008). In Social History of Medicine Journal. 2009; doi: 10.1093/shm/hkp030 .

Raguin, Virginia Chieffo and Sarah Stanbury, eds. Women’s Space: Patronage, Place and Gender in the Medieval Church (SUNY, 2005). In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2006. [http://name.umdl.umich.edu/baj9928.0601.024]

Public Lectures

“Motherhood in the Christian Tradition: What Martyrs, Virgins, Mystics & Reformers have Taught us about Motherhood.” Association for Research in Mothering, Mother Outlaws Speaker Series, “Mothering, Religion and Spirituality,” Toronto, ON, 2008.

Forthcoming

“You can get here from there.” Becoming Feminists (2011). Ed. Lorena M. Gajardo and Jamie Ryckman. Innana and Education Inc. for Resources in Feminist Research/Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, Toronto, ON.


Professor Becky Lee's research interests include the intersection of gender and religion, medieval English rituals and customs related to childbirth, lay spirituality in late medieval England, and the methods and theories of women’s history and gender history.


Professor Becky Lee's teaching and research are concerned with the intersection of religion and gender. A historian of religion, her research interests include medieval English rituals and customs related to childbirth, lay spirituality in late medieval England, and the methods and theories of women’s history and gender history. She is presently working on a book-length study of the churching of women in pre-Reformation England. Her teaching focuses on more contemporary issues, including feminist approaches to religion, the relationship of marginalized groups with religion, and the role of religion in both reinforcing and subverting societal stereotypes and norms.

Degrees

PhD in Religious Studies , University of Toronto
MA in Religion and Culture , Wilfrid Laurier University
BA in Religious Studies , University of Waterloo

Research Interests:

History , Religion , Gender

Current Research Projects

Women and Religion in Diasporic Canada: Histories, Beliefs, and Practices

Summary: 
Co-edited with Dr. Sailaja Krishnamurti, the essays collected in this volume explore the complex ways that women in diasporic communities have shaped, challenged and transformed diasporic religious practice in Canada’s complex cultural landscape. Contributors reflect on the experiences of women in Canada with diasporic connections to the Americas, Africa, and West, South and East Asia. Women in these communities have navigated the politics of gender, race, and identity in Canada while negotiating relationships to homelands, ethnic communities, and religious groups and institutions.

Description: 
The essays collected here cohere around three main contentions. First, they demonstrate that a deeper understanding of diasporic experiences of displacement, colonialism, migration, and racism is critical for the study of women’s religiosities in Canada. Second, these essays show how women engage with discourses of citizenship and multiculturalism as they shape identities for themselves within Canadian diaspora communities. Third, the essays in this collection reveal how women in Canada are conceptualizing tradition, convention, and authority in diverse ways, challenging some prevailing assumptions about diasporic religion.

The essays in Women and Religion in Diasporic Canada engage with diverse research methods to respond to these questions, drawing on interdisciplinary strategies in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Several chapters use qualitative data drawn from interviews and ethnographic observations. Others examine historical documents and memoirs. Some of the contributions turn to representations of diasporic women in literature, film and television to frame an analysis of religiosity and cultural expression. Above all, contributors offer different analytical perspectives across the various religious and ethnic groups examined here.

Our volume is about self-identified women in ‘diasporic Canada’. We understand women to include cis- and trans- people who self-identify as women. By ‘diasporic Canada’, we refer to ethno-religious communities in Canada that retain some cultural connection to a homeland and/or to other global locations of migration. By focusing on Canada as a location for diasporic communities, rather than tracing multiple nodes of a particular diaspora formation, we are better able to identify how diaspora experiences are shaped in part by discourses of Canadian-ness, and attend to specific histories of migration.

The volume employs diverse theoretical approaches to ‘diaspora’ and uses them to advance the understanding of diasporic women’s religiosities by bringing into focus some of the ways that experiences of migration, religion, and community affect diasporic women’s lives in Canada. To frame the approach of the volume as a coherent whole, we turn to the writings of diaspora theorists Khachig Tölölyan and Lily Cho. Tölölyan writes that diaspora is both “objective and subjective;” he understands the term to refer to “those communities of the dispersed who develop varieties of association that endure at least into their third generation” (2011:8). For Lily Cho, diaspora is “first and foremost a subjective condition marked by the contingencies of long histories of displacements and genealogies of dispossession” (2007:14). She writes that diasporas “are not simply collections of people, communities of scattered individuals bound by some shared history, race or religion, or however we want to break down the definitions and classifications. Rather, they have a relation to power. They emerge in relation to power” (2007:15). Building on this understanding of diaspora as both deeply subjective and historically contingent, the papers will consider how diasporic women’s experiences of gender and religiosity shape, and are shaped by, relations of power, authority, and faith within their communities and in the broader Canadian context.



Project Type: Self-Funded
Role: Co-editor


Start Date:  Month: Jul  Year: 2015
End Date:  Month: Sep  Year: 2017

Collaborator: Dr. Sailaja Krishnamurti
Collaborator Institution: Saint Mary's University, Halifax
Collaborator Role: Co-editor

At the Door of the Church: The Churching of Women in Pre-Reformation England

Summary: 
“At the Door of the Church” recovers and examines the churching rite, and the customs associated with it, as it was practised in England from its origins in the eleventh century to 1552 when its rubrics were changed to reflect Protestant sensibilities.

Description: 
Although the churching rite, and the customs associated with it, is the focus of At the Door of the Church, its scope is much broader. English parish life is viewed through the prism of this women’s rite. Intersecting in this rite are doctrinal developments regarding marriage, married sexuality and clerical celibacy; the shifting boundaries between clerical authority and lay initiative in local parishes; and the negotiation of gender roles. The interaction of these doctrinal developments, jurisdictional manoeuvring and gender negotiations is examined within a framework informed by contemporary ritual theory and studies in popular religion.

Project Type: Self-Funded
Role: Author

All Publications

Books

Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities.Co-editor with Terry Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON.

Book Chapters

"On the Margins of Church and Society: Roman Catholic Feminisms in English-speaking Canada." Women in Canada: Diasporic Religiosities and Cultural Identities. Ed. B. R. Lee and T. Woo. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Waterloo, ON. 2016. 65-105.

'The Historian as Translator of Past Cultures: Translation(s) of Margery Kempe and her Book. Historical Textures of Translation: Traditions, Traumas, Transgressions. Ed. Markus Reisenleitner and Susan Ingram. Milletre: Vienna, 2012. 13-32.

'Lying in.' Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia. 1 vol. Ed. Margaret Schaus. New York and London: Routledge. 2006

Journal Articles

'Between a rock and a hard place: Motherhood in medieval Europe.' Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 7.1 (2005): 152-8.

'Gender-critical Studies in Religious Studies.' Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 16.4 (2004): 386-97.

'The medieval hysteric and psychedelic psychologist: A revaluation of the mysticism of Margery Kempe in the light of the transpersonal psychology of Stanislav Grof.' Studia Mystica 23 (2002): 102-126.

'Men’s recollections of a women’s rite: Medieval English men’s recollections regarding the rite of the purification of women after childbirth.' Gender & History 14.2 (2002): 224-241.

'A company of women and men: Men’s recollections of childbirth in medieval England.' Journal of Family History 27.2 (2002): 92-100.

'The treatment of women in the historiography of late medieval popular religion.' Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 8.4 (1996): 345-60.

Conference Papers

"Vested Interests: The role of the liturgical stole in Roman Catholic Disputes over Priesthood." Material Religion. The American Academy of Religion-Eastern International Region Annual Conference, Toronto, ON. 2013.

"Unwed mothers in medieval England." Histories of Motherhood: International Conference on Mothers and History. Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement. Toronto, ON. 2012.

“Marriage Rites and Churching Rites: Complementary Strategies for Inculcating Clerical Marriage Reforms.” To Have and to Hold: Marriage in Premodern Europe 1200-1700. Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, 2009.

“The Power of Pennies: Churching offerings as a site of the negotiation of power relations.” 39th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI. For the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, 2004.

“Between a rock and a hard place: Motherhood in medieval Europe.” Keynote panel paper, Association for Research on Mothering 7th Annual Conference, Toronto, ON,2003.

“Medieval churching as the site of the negotiation of gender relations.” Annual meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies, Baltimore, Maryland, 2002.

Book Reviews

Hill, Carole. Women and Religion in Late Medieval Norwich. Series: Studies in History, New Series. (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell for The Royal Historical Society, 2010.) In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2012.

Rosenthal, Joel T. Margaret Paston's Piety. The New Middle Ages. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.) In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2011. [http://hdl.handle.net/2022/13396]

Book review of McLaughlin, Megan. Sex, Gender, and Episcopal Authority in an Age of Reform, 1000-1122. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). In Canadian Woman Studies 29 (1/2):195. 2011.

Barr, Beth Allison. The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England. (Woodbridge, Eng., and Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell and Brewer, 2008). In The Catholic Historical Review 96 (1): 114-16. 2010.

Bitel Lisa M. and Felice Lifshitz (eds.). Gender and Christianiity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2009. [http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.baj9928.0905.010]

Green, Monica H. Making Women’s Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology (Oxford University Press, 2008). In Social History of Medicine Journal. 2009; doi: 10.1093/shm/hkp030 .

Raguin, Virginia Chieffo and Sarah Stanbury, eds. Women’s Space: Patronage, Place and Gender in the Medieval Church (SUNY, 2005). In The Medieval Review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Library, Scholarly Publishing Office. 2006. [http://name.umdl.umich.edu/baj9928.0601.024]

Public Lectures

“Motherhood in the Christian Tradition: What Martyrs, Virgins, Mystics & Reformers have Taught us about Motherhood.” Association for Research in Mothering, Mother Outlaws Speaker Series, “Mothering, Religion and Spirituality,” Toronto, ON, 2008.

Forthcoming

“You can get here from there.” Becoming Feminists (2011). Ed. Lorena M. Gajardo and Jamie Ryckman. Innana and Education Inc. for Resources in Feminist Research/Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, Toronto, ON.