“Adams’s pioneering work in nineteenth-century feminist theology puts her at the forefront of an expanding new field of scholarship.”
Robert M. Ryan, author of The Romantic Reformation
Our Lady of Victorian Feminism is about three nineteenth-century women, Protestants by background and feminists by conviction, who are curiously and crucially linked by their extensive use of the Madonna in arguments designed to empower women.
In the field of Victorian studies, few scholars have looked beyond the customary identification of the Christian Madonna with the Victorian feminine ideal—the domestic Madonna or the Angel in the House. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams shows, however, that these three Victorian writers made extensive use of the Madonna in feminist arguments. They were able to see this figure in new ways, freely appropriating the images of independent, powerful, and wise Virgin Mothers.
In addition to contributions in the fields of literary criticism, art history, and religious studies, Our Lady of Victorian Feminism places a needed emphasis on the connections between the intellectuals and the activists of the nineteenth-century women's movement. It also draws attention to an often neglected strain of feminist thought, essentialist feminism, which proclaimed sexual equality as well as difference, enabling the three writers to make one of their most radical arguments, that women and men are made in the image of the Virgin Mother and the Son, the two faces of the divine.
Kimberly VanEsveld Adams is a former Mellon Fellow and has had articles in Women’s Studies and Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. She teaches at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
Save 20% ($26.36)
Save 20% ($47.96)
US and Canada only
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
Wuthering Heights at once fascinates and frustrates the reader with the highly charged, passionate and problematic relationships it portrays. This study provides a key to the text by examining the temporal and narrative rhythms through which Brontë presents the dualities by which we commonly define our selfhood: child and adult, female and male, symbiosis and separateness, illogic and common sense, classlessness and classboundedness, play and power, free will and determinism.
Subjects on Display explores a recurrent figure at the heart of many nineteenth-century English novels: the retiring, self-effacing woman who is conspicuous for her inconspicuousness. Beth Newman draws upon both psychoanalytic theory and recent work in social history as she argues that this paradoxical figure, who often triumphs over more dazzling, eye-catching rivals, is a response to the forces that made personal display a vexed issue for Victorian women.
Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot's problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.
In Victorian England, virtually all women were taught to sew; needlework was allied with images of domestic economy and with traditional female roles of wife and mother- with home rather than factory. The professional seamstress, however, labored long hours for very small wages creating gowns for the upper and middle classes.