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Professor Maureen Sabine

Professor Maureen Sabine
Diplome d'etudes francaises, University of Strasbourg, BA (summa cum laude) Fordham University, MA University of Pennsylvania, PhD University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests
Recent Publications
Brief Curriculum Vitae
Current Research Projects
Qualifications and Positions Held
Recent Awards
Creative and Literary Work
Contact Details

Research Interests

The Representation of Modern Women Religious in post-World War II Film, Fiction and Memoirs,
British-Indian author Rumer Godden as Writer in Spiritual Passage Women's Life Writing and History,
Literary, Feminist, Psychoanalytic, Religious, and Cultural Studies,
Discourses of Desire and the Theology of Sexuality,
Jane Austen, Popular Romance, and Visual Culture

For a copy of Professor Sabine's curriculum vitae (brief format) click here.

Recent Publications

Veiled Desires: Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), pp.338

click to enlarge

Maxine Hong Kingston's Broken Book of Life: An Intertextual Study of The Woman Warrior and China Men (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004)

The Woman Warrior and China Men were originally conceived by Maxine Hong Kingston as an extended saga of her Chinese sojourner family; but given the magnitude and complexity of her literary project, they were eventually split into two, separate gender collections of women's and men's life stories. My book sets out to read Hong Kingston's two books back into closer relationship with one another, and to show, in particular, her feminist sympathy for a male point of view and desire to reclaim a place of honor for her father alongside her mother at the heart of the Hong family history.

The book has been reviewed in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature as "gracefully written and clearly articulated, Sabine's study offers a valuable contribution to Kingston scholarship."

"Sabine brings an array of brilliant autobiographical, feminist and psychoanalytic thought to the discussion, calling on scholars ranging from Norman Holland, Marianne Hirsch and Naomi Goldenberg to Leslie Rabine and Michael Riffaterre as their work applies to the missing father or mother in the narrator's stories." The review calls the book a "valuable appraisal of Kingston's gender duet" that is "highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty."

Feminine Engendered Faith: John Donne and Richard Crashaw (London: Macmillan, 1992)

"Sabine has many interesting things to say about Donne's spiritual and psychological struggles and crises, and provides some stimulating readings of his religious poetry, buttressed by references to his prose writings. ?.She takes on a whole history of criticism that characterized Crashaw as weakly 'feminine' and treated his move to Catholicism as 'an act of spiritual cowardice and cultural defection.' ?Her reassessment of Crashaw ought, I think, to make other readers look once more at his poems."

Recent Essays
"'With my Body I Thee Worship': Joe Wright's Erotic Vision in Pride & Prejudice (2005)," The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 20 (Fall 2008): 1-19.

"Crashaw and Abjection: Reading the Unthinkable in his Devotional Verse," American Imago 63.4 (2007): 423-43.

"Ingrid Bergman - A Modern Magdalene: 'Saint to Whore and Back Again' in Casablanca, The Bells of St. Mary's and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness," Theology and Sexuality 13.1 (2006): 61-76.

"'Stranger to the Shining Skies': Traherne's Child and His Changing Attitudes to the World," originally published in Ariel 4: 21-35 and to be reissued in Poetry Criticism, ed. Michelle Lee (Gale Publishers, 2006).

"Donne the Ladies' Man and Feminist Reformers," in Decoding Contemporary Britain: Essays in British Literary and Cultural Studies, ed. Mao Sihui (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2003), 76-93.

"Fred Zinnemann's The Nun's Story and the Pilgrim Soul of Women," Religion and the Arts 5.4 (2001), 429-463.

This essay was the genesis of my current full-length book project and RGC Grant Award: Nuns on Screen: The Changing Face of Modern Women Religious in Post World War II Film - a study of how the modern woman religious has been represented in popular film narratives.

"Illumina Tenebras Nostras Domina - Donne at Evensong," John Donne Journal, Vol. 19 (2000-01), 19-44.

Notable Chapters in Edited Volumes
"No Marriage in Heaven: John Donne, Anne Donne and the Kingdom Come" chapter 13 in "desire of more": The Subject of Anne More Donne in John Donne's Poetry, ed. M. Thomas Hester (Newark: University of Delaware Press, London: Associated University Press, 1996), pp. 228-255. This chapter was selected by Harold Bloom for inclusion as an extract in his collection of influential critical essays on John Donne: Comprehensive Research and Study Guide (Chelsea House Publishers: 1999), 80-84.

Current Research Projects

Next Project: Twentieth-Century Woman Writer Rumer Godden: British-Indian Pilgrim on the Earth

Rumer Godden was a prolific and versatile woman writer who published around sixty books from 1935 to 1997. Her life spanned the twentieth century and her writing evolved from a British colonial life that would vanish after India gained independence in 1947. The transient and migratory pattern of British-Indian identity shaped Godden into a pilgrim who not only moved across genres like autobiography and fiction, adult and children"s literature, but also travelled across country borders, cultures and religions. In this project I hope to achieve a more holistic study of Godden's life work by considering how her respect for India's long tradition of religious pluralism and her perception of spirituality as an inner journey leading East and West are manifest in her writing. I will explore how her interests in religion, childhood, women's life experiences, and colonial India are inter-related, and how her works as a whole honors the Indian axiom: "Everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual....Unless we go into every room everyday...we are not a complete person."

Qualifications and Positions Held

Academic Honors

  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Woodrow Wilson and New York State Regents Fellowships
  • Founding Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities (FHKAH)

Positions held at the University of Hong Kong

  • Professor (Readership Scale), Department of History, 2005-
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of History, 2004-2005
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Comparative Literature, 1999-2004

Service to the University between 2000-12

  • Associate and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts
  • Chairman of the Faculty of Arts HADC
  • Deputy Head (responsible for postgraduates)
  • Acting Head, and DRPC Chair of the School of Humanities
  • Chair and Postgraduate Coordinator of the Department of History

Service to the Profession

  • Advisor to the Hong Kong International Literary Festival
  • Curriculum Advisor to the Jesuits on the establishment of a Liberal Arts College (SJLACHK) in Hong Kong
  • Governor and Education Committee Chair of the Board of The Chinese International School Foundation, 1992 to the present

Recent Awards

  • General Research Fund Award 2011-2012. Project Title: Twentieth-Century Woman Writer Rumer Godden: British-Indian Pilgrim on the Earth
  • Hong Kong Research Grants Council Research Grant Award, 2003-2004. Project Title: Nuns on Screen: The Changing Face of Modern Women Religious in Post World War II Film.
  • A major concern of feminist cultural film studies has been to analyze film representations of women, female community and sisterhood. Yet these critics have paid little or no serious attention to nuns, a community of women with a long history of sisterhood and activism who began to interest Hollywood in the lat 1940s. My book project will address this neglected category of women and carry out the first feminist cultural study of Nuns on Film.
  • Hong Kong Research Grants Council Competitive Bids Award, 2000-2002. Project Title: Maxine Hong Kingston's Broken Book of Life - An Intertextual Study of The Woman Warrior and China Men.

Creative and Literary Work

  • Introduction of the Nobel Prize Winning Author J.M. Coetzee when he spoke as HKU Distinguished Lecturer on "Literature and the Representation of Evil" on September 27, 2002.
  • Introduction on Jane Austen when Dr. Anson Chan gave a book talk on Pride and Prejudice at the HKU Library on November 27, 2003.
  • Panel Discussion on "The Promised Land": "Hong Kong University's Maureen Sabine engages two leading Chinese American writers: Maxine Hong Kingston and Gish Jen." The Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival, March 13, 2004.
  • Reader for the Man Asia Literary Prize 2008
  • Featured in an Interview in book published by SJLACHK Foundation Limited, July 2012. Click here to access the interview


HIST2031 History through Film
HIST2070 Stories of Self: History through Autobiography
HIST2084 Sexing the Spirit: The History of the Modern Feminist Challenge to Christianity
HIST2085 The History of Modern Sexual Identity and Discourse
HIST2089 History's Closet: Clothing in Context

Professor Sabine has taught courses for Comparative Literature that look at the relationship of such canonical writers as Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Popular Culture, and that introduce students to feminist cultural studies and to the common interest that both feminism and psychoanalysis have shown in childhood, adolescence and early womanhood.

Contact Details

HKU Scholars Hub:


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