The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Feminist Interpretations of Saint Augustine

Feminist Interpretations of Saint Augustine

Edited by Judith Chelius Stark
  • Copyright: 2007
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03257-3
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03258-0
  • Series Name: Re-Reading the Canon
“Through the centuries, Augustine’s writings have been a major influence on Christian views of sexuality, gender, and women, as well as on such more traditional theological topics as the Trinity. In this volume—accessibly written for students and the general reader—contemporary women scholars from a variety of humanities disciplines explore how Augustine’s approach to these issues has shaped the Western social, cultural, and religious landscape.”
“Stark, Miller, Burrus, and Keller: these essays should be required reading for any discussion of feminism and Augustine. The remaining essays in the volume are useful, and engage similar themes—Stark should be praised for her consistent editorial perspective.”
“It is clear that examining the history of philosophy is important to understand the social/cultural legacy we have inherited for better or for worse. It is incumbent upon us as scholars to clarify the fundamental positions of this inheritance, allowing it to stand (as much as we are able) on its own terms in all its glory and failures. Anything else is, in my view, intellectually dishonest. I see this collection of essays, and Penn State’s Rereading the Canon series in general, as an attempt to do just that. From my perspective, the book succeeds marvelously in its purpose. This is a book that anyone who has a sincere desire to come to terms with Augustine’s legacy and its impact on the lives of both women and men ought to consider reading.”

Since the establishment of Christianity in the West as a major religious tradition, Augustine (354–430 CE) has been considered a principal architect of the ways philosophy can be used for reasoning about faith. In particular, Augustine effected the joining of Platonism with Christian belief for the Middle Ages and beyond. The results of his enterprise continue to be felt, especially with regard to the contested topics of human embodiment, sexuality, and the nature and roles of women. As a result, few thinkers have been as problematic for feminists as he has been. He is the thinker that a number of feminists love to hate.

What do feminist thinkers make of this problematic legacy? These lively essays address that question and provide thoughtful arguments for the value of engaging Augustine’s ideas and texts anew by using the well-established methodologies that feminists have developed over the last thirty years. Augustine and his legacy have much to answer for, but these essays show that the body of his work also has much to offer as feminists explore, challenge, and reframe his thinking while forging new paradigms for construing gender, power, and notions of divinity.

Judith Chelius Stark is Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall University.

Contents

Preface

Introduction

Judith Chelius Stark

1. Augustine: Sexuality, Gender, and Women

Rosemary Radford Ruether

2. Monica: The Feminine Face of Christ

Anne-Marie Bowery

3. Augustine's Rhetoric of the Feminine in the Confessions: Woman as Mother, Woman as Other

Felecia McDuffie

4. Confessing Monica

Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller

5. O Mother, Where Art Thou? In Search of Saint Monnica

Rebecca Moore

6. Not Nameless but Unnamed: The Woman Torn from Augustine's Side

Margaret R. Miles

7. Augustine's Letters to Women

Joanne McWilliam

8. De cura feminarum: Augustine the Bishop, North African Women, and the Development of a Theology of Female Nature

E. Ann Matter

9. Augustine on Women: In God's Image, but Less So

Judith Chelius Stark

10. To Remember Self, to Remember God: Augustine on Sexuality, Rationality, and the Trinity

Julie B. Miller

11. The Evanescence of Masculinity: Deferral in Saint Augustine's Confessions and Some Thoughts on Its Bearing on the Sex/Gender Debate

Penelope Deutscher

12. Poem: To Aurelius Augustine from the Mother of His Son

Ann Conrad Lammers

Select Bibliography

Contributors

Index

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