Published by admin at 4 October 2013
The “veil,” not unlike the “screen,” conceals as much as it reveals. While the veil typically defines the “nun” for all to see, it also hides her from view and can make her an object of mystery and inaccessibility—out of reach, out of touch, an anachronistic relic from out of the past. However, nuns are also hardworking modern women, who have made enormous sacrifices to heal the sick, teach, and offer spiritual as well as physical comfort to the afflicted. Screen depictions of religious women have included both extremes, but we seldom have the opportunity to contemplate these contradictions or look critically at the way in which nuns are depicted in the cinema (in commercial features as well as documentaries and experimental films). This panel addresses that by providing a forum for the consideration of two important new works on nuns—director Nancy Tong’s moving documentary film on the Maryknoll sisters, Trailblazers in Habits, and Maureen Sabine’s pioneering book on Hollywood’s fascination with nuns, Veiled Desires: Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film.