Penry Catalog w FlowerThe Moravian Single Sisters and the Wider World

“Learn about the networks that connected them throughout colonial America and across the Atlantic, the women weren’t nuns!”  Scott Paul Gordon

Scott Paul GordonJoin Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites on Sunday, October 19, 2014 for the annual Jeanette Barres Zug Lecture.  This year’s speaker is Professor Scott Paul Gordon, Chairperson & Professor in the Department of English at Lehigh University.

Scott Paul Gordon came to Lehigh in 1995. He teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in eighteenth-century transatlantic literature and in literary and cultural theory. He has served as the Director of the First-Year Writing Program (2003-2006) and as Director of Lehigh University Press (2006-2011) and currently chairs the Department of English.

In 2002 Gordon received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and was named a Class of 1961 Professor for the years 2002-2004. Before coming to Lehigh in 1995, Gordon taught as an Instructor at Harvard University, from which institution he earned his doctorate, master’s degree, and bachelor’s degree.

Professor Gordon’s lecture will explore the relationships and cosmopolitan lifestyles that Moravian women held outside of the community.  The lecture will focus in particular on the life and letters of Mary Penry, a Moravian single sister living in Bethlehem from 1756 to 1762:

“One thing I want to stress is that Moravian single sisters weren’t “nuns” (to whom they are often compared) separated from the world and confined behind the stone walls of their choir houses. They were surprisingly connected or “networked.” This is what I mean by “cosmopolitan”: they had transatlantic correspondences that they kept up for their entire lives, they traveled more than we think, etc. Penry herself spoke English, Welsh, German, and French; she went to a school in Philadelphia that was run by the Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet; she kept up on national and international news and loved to gossip about and worry about world politics.”

The lecture will be held in the Saal of the Gemeinhaus, 66 W Church Street, at 2pm.. A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception will follow the lecture. The event is free for members of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, and $10 for non-members.  Guests will also have the opportunity to explore the Gemeinhaus before and after the lecture. Reservations are requested, space is limited. Please contact Katy Molinaro or 610-882-0450 ext. 10 for reservations.

Historic Bethlehem is a not-for-profit institution that brings to life three centuries of American history. Historic Bethlehem tells the story of a small town of great influence, home to some of our nation’s earliest settlers, to America’s first municipal water pumping system, and to one of the world’s greatest industrial companies. Historic Bethlehem is located in Eastern Pennsylvania, only a 1.5 hour drive from Philadelphia to the North and 2 hours west of New York City. Historic Bethlehem is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information please call 610-691-6055 or visit