Horning lecture to examine mystical....castration


CORVALLIS - An expert in Russian history from Princeton University will deliver the second lecture in Oregon State University's Horning Lecture Series and discuss a community of Russian peasants whose religious beliefs led them to adopt rituals of castration.

Laura Engelstein's lecture, "Salvation in the Flesh: Mystical Castration in Russian Folk Religion," will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, in Memorial Union Room 206. It is free and open to the public.

This is the second lecture in OSU's Horning Endowment Lecture Series, which this year has the theme, "Religion and the Body: Religious Experience and Natural Knowledge Since the Middle Ages."

During her lecture, Engelstein will discuss the Russian peasant community which, between the 18th and 20th centuries, followed the teaching of a leader who considered himself the reincarnation of Jesus. The community interpreted sexual chastity as a call to remove the "organs of sin," Engelstein says, and adopted rituals of castration.

Engelstein has been on the faculty of Princeton University since 1990, and previously taught at Cornell University. She has been a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center, and the National Humanities Center. She has written books on the early 20th century working class in Moscow, and on sexuality in Russia.

OSU's Horning Lecture Series is funded by the Mary Jones and Thomas Hart Horning Endowment in the Humanities, which was established through a gift by the late Benjamin Horning, an OSU graduate who went on to receive an M.D. from Harvard and directed the Kellogg Foundation's division for improving health care in Latin America.