VILLANOVA, Pa – Seth Koven, PhD, the G.E. Lessing Distinguished Professor of History and Poetics at Rutgers University, is the featured speaker at the twelfth annual Lore Kephart ’86 Distinguished Historians Lecture on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 7 p.m. in The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. His lecture, “Conscience Wars: Christianity and Coercion in Modern Britain and Its Empire,” surveys his ongoing research project about the history of “conscience” in early 20th century Britain.
Dr. Koven’s work addresses the central questions of “what is conscience?” and who does or does not have one. He also analyzes key historical moments when conscience itself became the subject of intense ethical and political debate. Working within the frameworks of modernism and Christianity, his research spans from the 1820s and 30s—with the disestablishment of state churches in Scotland, Ireland and England—to the early 20th century, with the empire-wide movement of passive resistance against the British state.
Dr. Koven has authored or co-authored three books, including Slumming: Social and Sexual Politics in Victorian London (Princeton University Press, 2004), which earned the Sonya Rudikoff Prize for the best first book in Victorian Studies. His book, The Match Girl and the Heiress (Princeton University Press, 2014, 2016), was awarded the 2015 “Best Book of the Year” by the North American Victorian Studies Association and the 2015 Stansky Prize for the Best Book in Modern British Studies by the North American Conference on British Studies.
Dr. Koven is also a founding member and co-director of the Rutgers British Studies Center (RBSC), a major interdisciplinary scholarly project funded by a Mellon Foundation Grant. RBSC supports visiting scholars, workshops and seminars and provides generous funding for graduate student initiatives.
In 1988, Dr. Koven earned his doctorate in History from Harvard University. Before his tenure at Rutgers, Dr. Koven taught at Villanova University for 18 years, first as assistant professor of History and Women’s Studies and then as associate professor of History. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The Lore Kephart '86 Distinguished Historians Lecture Series was established in memory of Lore Kephart '86 through an endowment to the University by her husband, the late Horace L. Kephart. The event is free and open to the public. All visitors to campus, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks inside campus buildings (except when eating and drinking) to help protect our community.
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.