"The Cult of the Cross in the Hispanic Rite," Allabough Panel with Emilie Bowerman '23 and Dr. Molly Lester, USNA

Allabough Panel with Emilie L. Bowerman '23 & History Honors Info Session

On Tuesday, February 27, The Department of History welcomed back Emilie Bowerman '23 to discuss her award-winning honors thesis, joined in conversation by Dr. Molly Lester, Assistant Professor of Medieval European History and medievalist at the US Naval Academy. 

Emilie L. Bowerman won the Peter J. Reichard 1966 Memorial Research Award for best honors thesis in History and the Jonathan B. Rintels Prize for best honors thesis in the Social Sciences for 2023. She has been offered a University Presidential Fellowship to pursue a History PhD in medieval studies from The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. This selective fellowship is offered to students in the Humanities and Social Sciences who demonstrate "exceptional academic promise." In her future graduate studies, Bowerman hopes to continue examining the role of liturgy in the formation of cultural identity and transmission of religious knowledge, throughout the late antique/early medieval Mediterranean world.

Bowerman's thesis, entitled The Cult of the Cross in the Hispanic Rite, fourth to eighth centuries, examines the rituals and texts preserved for the celebration of the cult of the cross in early medieval Iberian liturgical manuscripts. Her aim was to determine when, how, and under whose direction the constituent elements of this eastern-origin cult first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula and were then codified within the manuscript tradition of the Hispanic Rite. She argues that the political and ecclesiastical elites of the Hispano-Visigothic Kingdom (ca. 540-711 CE) codified and promoted the cult of the cross over the course of the long seventh century (ca. 580-760 CE), because they intended the cult to serve as a vehicle for the dissemination of Christological doctrine and royal political theology. 

Dr. Molly Lester gave a thoughtful response to Bowerman's exceptional textual and material culture analysis, offering methodological feedback with advice to History thesis writers. Dr. Lester is a historian of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, with a focus on the history of Christianity. Her current book, The Word as Lived: Liturgy and Orthodoxy in Early Medieval Iberia, explores the dynamic relationship of liturgy and worship, Christian orthodoxy, and political sovereignty in the kingdoms of post-Roman Iberia. The presentation and panel were followed by an information session for the 2024-25 History Honors Program.

View Bowerman's presentation slides, and handout from the panel.


Emilie Bowerman, at the Alcazar of Toledo, Spain. 2020.
Emilie Bowerman, in the old city of Toledo, Spain, Good Friday, April 2022.



Poster for Richard Panel Tuesday 27, 2024
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