Catholic Girlhood Narratives: The Church and Self-Denial

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In this pioneering study of thirty-three girlhood memoirs and autobiographies by twentieth-century Roman Catholic women from six countries, Elizabeth N. Evasdaughter argues that the narratives are linked by a remembered conflict with the repressive gender training of the institutional church. By examining the writings of women such as Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, Rosa Chacel, Simone de Beauvoir, and Mary McCarthy, the author offers insights in the shared girlhood experiences of Catholic women as a group and ...
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Overview

In this pioneering study of thirty-three girlhood memoirs and autobiographies by twentieth-century Roman Catholic women from six countries, Elizabeth N. Evasdaughter argues that the narratives are linked by a remembered conflict with the repressive gender training of the institutional church. By examining the writings of women such as Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, Rosa Chacel, Simone de Beauvoir, and Mary McCarthy, the author offers insights in the shared girlhood experiences of Catholic women as a group and illuminates the ways in which the girls' choices, behavior, and development were deeply affected by the Church's concept of the ideal Catholic woman.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
On the basis of their place in Catholic Church history, Evasdaughter-a literary scholar, Catholic convert, and former Dominican-examines the autobiographies of 33 Catholic women writing between 1850 and 1990. In her introduction, the author asserts that these women "suffered a repression of their human possibilities by the Church in the name of the Catholic woman." The women she studies are chosen from radically different ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds-e.g., Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, Mary Brave Bird, and Kathleen Norris-on the premise that the data would prove conclusively the similarity in Catholic family behavior regarding a woman's ideal role. The resulting work is an uneven collection of analyses based on the frustrations and spirituality of the writers as interpreted by Evasdaughter. In spite of this, the work presents some interesting and perceptive conclusions about Catholic women and their relationship to the Church. Recommended with caution for libraries with large women's studies and feminist theology collections.-Karen Rae Mehaffey, Sacred Heart Major Seminary Lib., Detroit
Booknews
A pioneering exploration of 33 girlhood memoirs written by Roman Catholic women from six countries documenting the repressive gender training inculcated in women by The Baltimore Catechism, The Church Fathers, the teachings of Rome, and traditional theology. Evasdaughter, an independent scholar, discusses the writings of Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, and Mary McCarthy, drawing a sketch of the impossible "Catholic woman" role that required women to subsume their ambition and desire to achieve the submissive attitude established by the male hierarchy. The readings recognize women's reluctant criticism of their "community" and also the deep dissatisfaction and rebellion against its sexism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555532697
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 5/16/1996
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Chronology of Autobiographers
Chronology of Autobiographies
Introduction 3
Pt. 1 Autobiography and the Catholic Woman 19
Pt. 2 Puzzling Cheerfulness and Puzzling Complaints
Ch. 1 The Conundrum of a Too Pleasant Surface 39
Ch. 2 Unexpected Frustration and Grief 73
Pt. 3 Theologies of Women
Ch. 3 The Message of Subordination 115
Ch. 4 The Message of Equivalence 145
Pt. 4 Spiritual Combat
Ch. 5 Catholic Girls in Defense of Their Spiritual Well-Being 161
Ch. 6 Catholic Women Autobiographers Keep Up the Good Fight 192
Notes 229
Works Cited 249
Index 257
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