Sabine, Maureen


Sabine, Maureen

Maureen Sabine is an Honorary Professor of History in the School of Humanities at The University of Hong Kong. She received her BA (summa cum laude) from Fordham University and her MA and PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the course of her career at the University of Hong Kong, she served as Associate Dean for research and postgraduate studies in the Faculty of Arts, Head of Comparative Literature, Chair of History, and Deputy Head of the School of Humanities responsible for postgraduates. She is a governor and board Education Committee Chair of the Chinese International School Foundation.

She began her academic career at the University of Hong Kong in 1979 as a Renaissance scholar in the Department of English and Comparative Studies. She became a founding member of the Department of Comparative Literature in 1989 where her literary work diversified to include feminist, psychoanalytic, and cultural studies. She has written widely on the seventeenth-century metaphysical poets and taken the lead in feminist and psychoanalytic scholarship on their religious eroticism with her publication of "Crashaw and the Feminine Animus" in 1985, Feminine Engendered Faith: John Donne and Richard Crashaw with Macmillan in 1992, "No Marriage in Heaven: John Donne, Anne Donne, and the Kingdom Come" in 1996, and "Crashaw and Abjection" in 2007.

Her interest in life writing, gender relations, family dynamics, and Chinese diasporic communities resulted in the publication of Maxine Hong Kingston's Broken Book of Life: An Intertextual Study of The Woman Warrior and China Men with University of Hawai'i Press in 2004.

Affiliated with the History Department, she extended her interdisciplinary research to include the history of modern women religious and the Catholic Church in the twentieth-century, film studies and popular culture, and both theological and psychoanalytic explorations of the relationship between religion and sexuality. These interests have converged in her most recent book, Veiled Desires: Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film, published with Fordham University Press in 2013.

The National Catholic Reporter (February 14-27, 2014) called Veiled Desires "a masterful book that reveals the sacramentality of cinema about religious women" and where the author draws on her "literary knowledge, psychology, and the history of religious life before and after the Second Vatican Council ... to articulate great insight" into postwar representation of nuns and their religious communities on screen. America Magazine (February 24, 2014) felt "it exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinary research in gender studies, church history, cinematic analysis, and American culture," and concluded that "her thoroughness and range, and her vast compilation of evidence convincingly illustrates that 'in their dramatic contention with the lifeforce of eros and the divine force of agape, cinematic nuns occupy a space where the veil momentarily parts between this world and something beyond it'."

She has now expanded her work to focus more intently on the twentieth-century woman writer Rumer Godden who produced four novels about women religious, and whose British-Indian identity led to a heterodox journey from her family's social Anglicanism to traditional Catholicism, yet where she remained deeply drawn towards the Hinduism she encountered as a colonial subject.