Of Women Borne

A Literary Ethics of Suffering

Cynthia R. Wallace

Columbia University Press

Of Women Borne

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Pub Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9780231173698

344 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.00£20.95

Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231173681

344 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£49.95

Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231541206

344 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£49.95

Of Women Borne

A Literary Ethics of Suffering

Cynthia R. Wallace

Columbia University Press

The literature of Adrienne Rich, Toni Morrison, Ana Castillo, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie teaches a risky, self-giving way of reading (and being) that brings home the dangers and the possibilities of suffering as an ethical good. Working the thought of feminist theologians and philosophers into an analysis of these women's writings, Cynthia R. Wallace crafts a literary ethics attentive to the paradoxes of critique and re-vision, universality and particularity, and reads in suffering a redemptive or redeemable reality.

Wallace's approach recognizes the generative interplay between ethical form and content in literature, which helps isolate more distinctly the gendered and religious echoes of suffering and sacrifice in Western culture. By refracting these resonances through the work of feminists and theologians of color, her book also shows the value of broad-ranging ethical explorations into literature, with their power to redefine theories of reading and the nature of our responsibility to art and each other.
Of Women Borne is an articulate, sophisticated, and creative work that explores responses to a literature of suffering in relation to recent debates on ethics and literature and the ethical significance of 'reading.' Because she foregrounds issues of gender, location, and identity and engages in close readings of texts that ethical critics do not often engage with, Cynthia R. Wallace makes a significant, distinctively feminist contribution to the interdisciplinary field of literature and theology. Heather Walton, University of Glasgow
Of Women Borne provides a profound, interdisciplinary consideration of the ethics of redemptive suffering. Cynthia R. Wallace breaks important new ground in literary ethics by insisting on the previously overlooked or neglected components of gender and theology in discussions of literary representation and readerly attention. Susan VanZanten, Seattle Pacific University
This graceful book is by turns meditative and personal, critical and analytical. Through interdisciplinary conversation with theology and critical theories, Of Women Borne advocates an ethical reading practice of openness, receptivity, attentive care for detail, interpretative humility, and generosity tempered by a suspicion of the capability of our reading and writing to reinscribe the very ills we seek to eradicate. M. Shawn Copeland, Boston College
Wallace’s desire to spur action in her readers is noted through her consistent acknowledgement of the value and purpose of suffering. . . . Wallace allows us to see the diversity of suffering through a diversity of writers. Literature and Theology
Preface: If We Could Learn to Learn from Pain
Acknowledgments
1. History (Herstory) and Theory, or Doing Justice to Redemptive Suffering
2. Adrienne Rich and the "Long Dialogue Between Art and Justice"
3. Love and Mercy: Toni Morrison's Paradox of Redemptive Suffering
4. Ana Castillo, Mexican M.O.M.A.S., and a Hermeneutic of Liberation
5. Silent (in the Face of) Suffering? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Postcolonial Cultural Hermeneutics
Conclusion: Learning to Learn
Notes
Bibliography
List of Credits
Index

About the Author

Cynthia R. Wallace is assistant professor of English at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan.