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Picture of Spirit, Faith and Church

Spirit, Faith and Church

Women’s Experiences in the English-Speaking World, 17th-21st Centuries

Editor(s): Laurence Lux-Sterritt, Claire Sorin
Contributors: Sorin Claire, Megan P Brook, Rachel Cope, Eglantine Janet-Moreau, Margaret M Toscano, Helene Palma, Michele Lardy,

Book Description

Contradictions are legion when it comes to women and spirituality. In Christian cultures, the worth of the female sex is highly ambivalent, since virginity and motherhood are construed respectively as badges of purity and fruitfulness, whilst the biological processes which underlie them are considered taboo or impure. Throughout history, women are in turn represented as inferior, defective creatures or as privileged ‘empty vessels’ in their relationship with the divine. This polarized conception of woman has influenced the way in which religious institutions, learned writers, or indeed women themselves consider the female personal and collective relationship with the supernatural, with the divine, and with the institutions which represent it.

Through eleven original essays, this volume questions how women from the English-speaking world have negotiated their roles in the spiritual and religious spheres. From early-modern Catholics and Puritan groups to twenty-first century nuns, Anglican ministers and Mormons, how did women define their roles in male-dominated institutions? How did they react to the public perceptions of their bodies as either incompatible with or facilitating access to the divine? The questions at the core of this book hinge upon the articulation between the female self (body and soul) and its experience of the preternatural, of faith, and of institutionalized groups. Are there specific forms of female spirituality and do they lead to a feminized/feminist conception of God?


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-3465-0
ISBN-10: 1-4438-3465-3
Date of Publication: 01/01/2012
Pages / Size: 255 / A5
Price: £39.99


Laurence Lux-Sterritt is a Lecturer of Early Modern English History in the Department of English Studies at Aix-Marseille Université, France, and is affiliated to the LERMA (Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone). She obtained her PhD in History at the University of Lancaster, UK, in 2001. Her monograph, Redefining Female Religious Life: French Ursulines and English Ladies in Seventeenth Century Catholicism (Ashgate, 2005), provided a comparative analysis of female Catholic endeavours in early modern England and France. She is also the author of articles in English and in French, exploring such issues as the governance, the spirituality and the missionary involvement of female institutions in the Counter-Reformation.

Claire Sorin is a Lecturer of American Studies at Aix-Marseille Université, France, where she teaches courses in American history. She is affiliated to the LERMA (Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone). She is the author of a doctoral dissertation on nineteenth-century American women’s diaries and of articles related to women’s history, narratives of the self, gender construction and body representation.