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Because of Beauvoir

Christianity and the Cultivation of Female Genius

Alison E. Jasper

Publication Year: 2012

Because of Beauvoir does what many say is impossible: it demonstrates how women can flourish, without conflict, while being simultaneously Christian and feminist. Alison Jasper offers a vision of Julia Kristeva's "female genius" as the capacity of women to thrive and cultivate intellect within and across different cultural and theological environments. Using the writings of English women from the 17th through the 21st centuries as living profiles, Jasper draws upon the creative power in the lives of real women to recognize and retrieve a female subjectivity—one that determines how women see and are seen after Simon de Beauvoir.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

Special thanks should go to Pamela Sue Anderson, at the University of Oxford, who first suggested that I try writing something about Julia Kristeva’s idea of “female genius” and whose scholarly rigor and constant friendship have continued to challenge and sustain me during the writing of this book. I would also like to express my grateful thanks to Heather Walton at the University of Glasgow for providing me, over many years, with opportunities ...

Part I

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1. Beauvoir and The Second Sex

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pp. 3-31

A series of encounters has been taking place for some time now between Christianity and various kinds of feminists and feminist theory. In these conversations, “woman” is understood within different—Christian and feminist—imaginaries or “sets of metaphors for thinking and enacting the world.”1 Negotiating between these two approaches has sometimes been very ...

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2. Female Genius and Christianity

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pp. 33-43

I have said that the aim of this book is to help bridge a gap between the important resonant and energizing feminist critique of the second wave and beyond with its theoretical debt to the work of Simone de Beauvoir and the stories of countless girls and women whose creative capacity to think differently for and of themselves could be said to pave the way for that critique. It is also an attempt to give the lie to a smoothed-over narrative of progress that ...

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3. Kristeva and Female Genius

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pp. 45-69

The idea of the female genius, though connected with themes from her earlier work, emerges distinctly in three books Julia Kristeva published between 1999 and 2002 under the title Female Genius: Life, Madness, Words—Hannah Arendt, Melanie Klein, Colette. And though she is not one of Kristeva’s three female geniuses, Beauvoir nevertheless remains a significant presence in the trilogy and, ultimately the figure to whom Kristeva dedicates the work as a whole.1 ...

Part II

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4. Jane Leade

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pp. 73-97

Four women’s lives and work form the centerpiece of this book. The first of the four women is Jane Leade, who was born in Norfolk in 1624. Leade has been described as a mystic and visionary.1 Her visionary writing is poetic, employing a striking literary style and a range of elaborate images and metaphors, including many references to the figure of Wisdom, the female personification ...

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5. Hannah More

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pp. 99-125

In 1705 Mary Astell’s essay defended woman’s reason and called for more and better education for women, taking the view that a woman’s reason had been given her for a noble and important purpose she defines as “religion.”1 Although she does not explicitly take issue with the idea, there is a delicate hint of irony in her reference to the convention of separate spheres or ...

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6. Maude Royden

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pp. 127-138

Maude Royden is another Christian woman with insights on the topic of female genius at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. In many ways she seems an amalgam of Hannah More and her character Lucilla Stanley: born into a wealthy family, she was given a university education in which she excelled not simply in her studies but in debating ...

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7. Michèle Roberts

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pp. 139-150

Michèle Roberts was born in 1949 and brought up in the London suburb of Edgware. The daughter of a French Roman Catholic mother and an Anglican father, she attended Roman Catholic schools in London before going to university in Oxford in 1967 to study English literature. After graduating, she intended to train as a librarian, but instead she fell in love with feminism ...

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pp. 151-158

In 2009 Ramita Naval reported in a Channel 4 program in the Unreported World series—“Turkey: Killing for Honour”—that in order to evade the consequences of what was then new Turkish legislation against so-called “honor killings,” Kurdish communities were forcing women and girls to take their own lives or, in some cases, commissioning younger men to kill them in ...


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pp. 159-170


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pp. 171-178

E-ISBN-13: 9781602586383
E-ISBN-10: 1602586381
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602583214
Print-ISBN-10: 1602583218

Page Count: 215
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 816042025
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Because of Beauvoir

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Subject Headings

  • Women and literature -- History -- 20th century.
  • Genius in literature.
  • Women -- Intellectual life.
  • Feminism -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
  • Beauvoir, Simone de, -- 1908-1986 -- Criticism and interpretation.
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