Examining popular fiction, life writing, poetry and political works, Rebecca Styler explores women's contributions to theology in the nineteenth century. Female writers, Styler argues, acted as amateur theologians by use of a range of literary genres. Through these, they questioned the Christian tradition relative to contemporary concerns about political ethics, gender identity, and personal meaning. Among Styler's subjects are novels by Emma Worboise; writers of collective biography, including Anna Jameson and Clara Balfour, who study Bible women in order to address contemporary concerns about 'The Woman Question'; poetry by Anne Bronte; and political writing by Harriet Martineau and Josephine Butler. As Styler considers the ways in which each writer negotiates the gender constraints and opportunities that are available to her religious setting and literary genre, she shows the varying degrees of frustration which these writers express with the inadequacy of received religion to meet their personal and ethical needs. All find resources within that tradition, and within their experience, to reconfigure Christianity in creative, and more earth-oriented ways.
Rebecca Styler is Lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, UK.
'At a time when the role of women in relation to religion is the subject of urgent discussion, Rebecca Styler offers a balanced and wide-ranging review of some of the key literary figures of the nineteenth century, when religious developments made headline news and the "woman question" was hugely controversial. Less familiar figures such as Emma Worboise take their place alongside Anne BrontÃ«, Harriet Martineau and Josephine Butler in a study which draws creatively upon modern scholarship, as well as historical sources.' Michael Wheeler, University of Southampton, UK 'This innovative book examines different literary genres utilized by mainly British women writers within Anglican, Methodist, and Unitarian churches to construct Christian theology that more adequately addressed salient issues of ethics, sociopolitical analysis and activism, and gender identity in the latter nineteenth century... This book will fit well within graduate-level courses regarding nineteenth-century European theology and literature, comparative theological method, and theology and genre.' Religious Studies Review ’Literary Theology by Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century usefully highlights aspects of Victorian women’s writing that have often been ignored... Styler successfully demonstrates that the featured writers generated a theology of their own that could envisage the encounter with God taking place within human events and relationships. The result is a theology thoroughly embodied in everyday life.’ Victorian Periodicals Review '... this volume does useful work in extending our knowledge of the various ways in which several lesser-known 19th-century women writers managed to use secular genres for their theological musings.' Literature and Theology 'Styler has written an interesting, original, and important book on a topic that has received too little critical attention. It is well written, well researched, and well argued: Styler’s consideration of women’s th