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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Biographical Note

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).

Review Quotes

"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).

Table of contents



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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