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Cover for the book The Body and the Book

The Body and the Book

Writing from a Mennonite Life: Essays and Poems Julia Spicher Kasdorf
  • Copyright: 2009
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 230 pages
  • Illustrations: 34 b&w illustrations
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03544-4
  • Series Name: Keystone Books®

Now in paperback, and with a new preface, Julia Kasdorf's The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life investigates the often difficult relationships among writing, community, and belief. In the ten essays collected here—presented in relation to poetry as well as photographs and other illustrations—Kasdorf draws on family stories, historical documentation, and her own experiences to examine aspects of Mennonite life and explore a variety of themes, including gender, community, silence, place, identity, and the body.

In each of the four sections of The Body and the Book, Kasdorf tries to reconcile her profession with the practical wisdom and habitual silence of her Mennonite heritage. In the first section, she delves into the old Amish settlement where her parents grew up and its lasting influence on her. The second section focuses on the obstacles she faces as a woman writing from a traditional and ethnic religious background. In each essay in the third section, she uses a historical episode as an occasion to explore the complex interconnections among voice, body, gender, and religious tradition. And in the last section, she demonstrates how writing enables an author to integrate disparate experiences and memories. Even as she strives to create herself as an individual, she cannot fully separate from the Mennonite heritage that has shaped her.

Julia Spicher Kasdorf was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. She is the author of two collections of poems, Sleeping Preacher (1992) and Eve's Striptease (1998), and a biography, Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American (2002). She is the coeditor, with Joshuah Brown, of Yoder's 1940 classic Rosanna of the Amish (2008), and, with Michael Tyrell, of a poetry anthology, Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (2007).


Preface to the 2009 Edition

Preface and Acknowledgments

A Place to Begin

Mountains and Valleys

Tracking the Mullein, or Portrait of a Mennonite Muse

When the Stranger Is an Angel

Writing Home

Bringing Home the Work

Preacher’s Striptease

Bodies and Boundaries

The Witness a Body Bears

Work and Hope

Marilyn, H. S. Bender, and Me

The Gothic Tale of Lucy Hochstetler and the Temptation of Literary Authority


Writing like a Mennonite



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