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Nov 20
Le Tumulte Noir at Rhodes College Hardie Auditorium, Palmer Hall (2000 North Parkway Memphis, TN 38112)

Lights of Madness: In Search of Joan of Arc

Preston Russel

Joan of Arc was burned alive in 1431, condemned at age 19 for her heresy which defied church and worldly authority. Since childhood, she claimed to have heard daily voices from God. These angelic messengers miraculously guided Joan to drive the English out of France and end the Hundred Years War. Author Preston Russell traces her extensive trial testimony, seeking to find her own voice from five hundred years ago. He also examines her many faces evolving in world literature, theatre, and film, extending from Shakespeare and Voltaire to Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw.


Becoming a world symbol, Joan of Arc has been embraced by Napoleon, Nazi Germany, Marxist ideology, and current French political parties. The Catholic Church has also claimed her as a Saint. Competing interpretations have struggled to capture her enduring mystery. Was Joan really a military genius--or actually a man--or a liar, a lunatic, medieval religious reformer, fascist, communist, proto-feminist, heretic or saint? With his background as a physician, Dr. Russell concludes with diverse medical attempts to dissect Joan of Arc. Theories of insanity since Hippocrates are traced through to 20thcentury psychiatric analysis, among them Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Albert Schweitzer.


Yet beyond repeated medical probes, 21st century brain research is discovering surprising aspects of the mind’s dual awareness and subconscious powers. Neuroscientists are presently chasing the soulful ghost hidden within the machine of our physical reality, beginning to explore the metaphysical realm of universal spirituality. Finally, Russell’s search for Joan of Arc attempts an early reconciliation between science and religion.