Blake Lectures

Dr. William and Miriam Blake

The lecture honors William E. and Miriam S. Blake and is presented annually by a renowned scholar. The lecture is supported by an endowed fund established by family, friends, colleagues,and those who enjoyed the History of Christianity course which Professor Blake initiated at VCU. 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of this lecture series. 

The 2015 lecture will be given by Dr. Kate Cooper (University of Manchester UK). Her talk will be based on research for her most recent book, "Band of Angels: The Forgotten Worlds of Early Christian Women" (Atlantic, 2013). April 1, 2015, Grace Street Theater, 932 W. Grace Street.

For more information, please contact the Dr. Andrew Crislip ( or 804-828-0155), the History Department's Blake Chair in the History of Christianity.

The 21st Annual William E. & Miriam S. Blake Lecture was given by Elizabeth A. Clark, Ph.D.
Thursday, April 10, 2014, 7:30 PM at the Grace Street Theatert.

Elizabeth A. Clark  received her B.A. from Vassar College in 1960, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1962 and 1965, respectively. In addition, she received an S.T.D., honoris causa, from the Univeristy of Uppsala in 2001. Professor Clark joined the faculty of the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia in 1964, founding its Department of Religion and eventually serving as its chairperson. She remained there until 1982 when, after spending the spring semester as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she joined the Duke faculty as a professor in the Department of Religion. She currently holds dual appointments at Duke: John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion and Professor of History.

Professor Clark specializes in the field of Christianity, and she is widely credited with having a transforming influence on its study.

We were pleased to host Carlos M. N. Eire, Ph.D., the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, who gave the 2013 lecture entitled, "Redefining the Sacred: Protestantism and the Birth of Modernity." Click here for a flier.

In 1962, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba during the CIA's Operation Peter Pan - exiled from his family, his country, and his own childhood by the revolution. Seventeen years later, in 1979, Carlos Eire received his PhD from Yale. He specializes in the social, intellectual, religious, and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe, with a strong focus on both the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the history of popular piety; and the history of death.

A past president of the Society for Reformation Research, Eire is currently on the editorial board of the journal "Church History" and the publications committee of Yale University Press. He is now writing a survey history of the Reformation era and researching attitudes toward miracles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His courses range widely in subject, but tend to focus on early modern Europe and on religious history.

The 2012 lecture was given by Wallace Daniel, Ph.D., Provost, Mercer University

"Saintly Martyr or Religious Heretic? Alexander Men and the Russian Orthodox Church"
February 23, 2012
Dr. Daniel is a prominent historian specializing in early modern and contemporary Russian and European history. Prior to joining Mercer, he completed a 30-plus  year career at Baylor University, where he recently served as the Ralph L. and Bessie Lynn Professor of History and editor of the Journal of Church and State. Daniel's publications include The Orthodox Church and Civil Society in Russia; Perspectives on Church-State Relations in Russia; and "Father Alexander Men and the Struggle to Recover Russia's Heritage" in Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization.

The 2011 lecture was given by David Brakke, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Religious Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington.
"Why the Early Church Did Not Reject Gnosticism"
March 31, 2011
Dr. Brakke is Professor and Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. Dr. Brakke is the author of several ground-breaking books in the history of ancient Christianity, including Demons and the Making of the Monk, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism, Talking Back: A Monastic Handbook for Combating Demons, and The Gnostics, published in November 2010 by Harvard University Press, the basis for the Blake Lecture. He is Editor of the Journal of Early Christian Studies.

Other speakers coordinated by the Blake program included:

John Plotz, Professor of English, Brandeis University
"Before there was Facebook: The Long History of Distraction and Absorption"
Thursday, November 1, 2012

Barbara Rosenwein, Loyola University Chicago
"Emotions and Change in History"
Friday, April 1, 2011

Paul Blowers, Emmanuel School of Religion
"Between Revulsion and Empathy: The Reinvention of Tragic  Pity in Christian Responses to the Poor and the Diseased in Late Antiquity"
Thursday, Febraruy 24, 2011

Emma Wasserman, Rutgers University
Evil Everywhere? Demons, Spirits, and Powers in the Letters of Paul
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kevin Wilkinson, Yale University
"New Palladas and Constantine the Great: A Recently Recovered Pagan Poet
on Religion and Politics in the Later Roman Empire"
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Previous lecturers:


Dr. Diane Apostolos-Cappadona


Dr. Andrew Crislip


Dr. Barbara MacHaffie


Dr. Dale Hoak


Dr. Christine Heyrman


Dr. Bart Ehrman


Dr. Richard Harrison, Jr.


Dr. William E. Blake


Dr. John P. Meier


Dr. Jonathan Zophy


Dr. James Smylie


Dr. Edwin Gaustad


Dr. E. Ann Matter


Dr. Paul Maier


Dr. Samuel Hill


Dr. Charles Curran


Dr. Martin Marty