Mothering, Public Leadership, and Women’s Life Writing

Explorations in Spirituality Studies and Practical Theology 


In Mothering, Public Leadership, and Women’s Life Writing, Claire E. Wolfteich presents a series of case studies in Christian spirituality, bringing mothers’ autobiographical writing into focus for theological reflection. From the medieval mystic Margery Kempe to the twentieth-century activist Dorothy Day, from African American preacher Jarena Lee to labor organizer Dolores Huerta, the book mines women’s first-person writing, surfacing critical issues for theological analysis. Listening deeply to these diverse maternal voices, the book advances creative theological reflection on work, vocation, time poverty, Sabbath, and spiritual guidance. Mothering, Public Leadership, and Women’s Life Writing demonstrates the significance of the study of mothering for theology and spirituality studies and the import of life writing as an underutilized source for practical theology.
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Claire E. Wolfteich, Ph.D. (1997), University of Chicago, is Professor of Practical Theology and Spirituality Studies at Boston University. She has published monographs, edited volumes, and articles, including (co-ed. with A. Dillen) Catholic Approaches in Practical Theology: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Peeters, 2016).
"In short, Wolfteich’s focus on motherhood enables her to push at the boundaries of two disciplines to help us to understand the moral and spiritual significance of motherhood—for mothers themselves, and to the larger Christian community. The book is well-organized and written in a clear and engaging style. Noteworthy is Wolfteich’s repeated attention to potential further avenues of research, thus underscoring how her research and analysis indeed generate significant theological reflection and enlarge our understanding of spirituality. (...) Indeed, it is Wolfteich’s care with her sources, and her own pressing for fresh insights in theological and spiritual practices, that make this book a tool for others to undertake such analysis." - Sarah Azaransky, Union Theological Seminary, New York, in: Reading Religion, April 8, 2019 (link visited on September 9, 2019).

"[T]his book does important work on an often-overlooked topic and should be read." - Jana M. Bennett, University of Dayton, in: Horizons 45:2 (2017), pp. 509-511.

"Questo libro innovativo è allora dedicato alla maternità quale argomento rilevante per gli studi di spiritualità e di teologia pratica: in queste pagine si dedica particolare attenzione alla maternità come lavoro e alla maternità in relazione ad altre sfere del lavoro femminile." In: Rassegna bibliografica internazionale

"This is an important work of practical and feminist theology and of Christian spirituality, of broad as well as deep sympathies and scholarship. The work crosses a number of boundaries in ways which one hopes may encourage further creative conversation between practical theology, feminist and gender studies, life writing and spirituality studies." - Nicola Slee, in: Journal of Empirical Theology, Volume 30.2 (2017).


1 Introduction

Case Studies in Spirituality

2 Mothering, Mysticism, and Public Voice: Margery Kempe and Jarena Lee

3 Maternal Wisdom and an Ordinary Spiritual Theology: Jane de Chantal and Francis de Sales

4 Motherwork, Public Leadership, and Vocational Tensions: Dorothy Day, Dolores Huerta, and Lena Frances Edwards

Theological Analysis

5 Motherwork and Vocation

6 Seeking Sabbath: Time Poverty, Women's Labor, and Spiritual Renewal

7 Spiritual Travail and Sacred Tales

Scholars, graduate and upper undergraduate students, and educated laity with interests in spirituality, theology, ethics, gender studies, and autobiography studies, as well as graduate theological schools and libraries.
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