Between Worlds: Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Women Writers and Religious Identity

deadline for submissions: 
October 22, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Luella D'Amico and Lindsay Katzir

Call for Papers: Between Worlds: Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Women Writers and Religious Identity

Edited by LuElla D’Amico and Lindsay Katzir


In the last two decades, scholars of nineteenth-century literature have been increasingly turning their attention to the era’s preoccupation with religion. Though religion is now a popular area of inquiry for many scholars of the period, women’s relationships to religion is not as commonly studied. Some recent volumes have explored nineteenth-century women writers’ responses to idealism, their uses of sentimentality, and their interpretations of scripture, all important but relatively dispassionate topics. Fewer have considered how religion formed a vital part of these writers’ personal identities, and even fewer have considered issues of identity from the perspectives of those outside the normative religious discourses of the period, especially nonconformists, non-Protestants, non-Trinitarians, nonwhite Christians, and non-Christians. Because scholarship has neglected this area of inquiry, submissions should consider the lived experiences of women writers’ as expressed in their works.


Some exceptions include Cynthia Scheinberg, Women’s Poetry and Religion in Victorian England: Jewish Identity and Christian Culture (2002); Nadia Valman, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture (2007); Joy R. Bostic, African American Female Mysticism: Nineteenth-Century Religious Activism (2013); Claudia Stokes, The Altar at Home: Sentimental Literature and Nineteenth-Century American Religion (2014); Mary McCartin Wearn, Nineteenth-Century American Women Write Religion: Lived Theologies and Literature (2014); Richa Dwor, Jewish Feeling: Difference and Affect in Nineteenth-Century Jewish Women’s Writing (2015); Julie Melnyk, Women’s Theology in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Transfiguring the Faith of Their Fathers (2019); Ashley Reed, Heaven’s Interpreters: Women Writers and Religious Agency in Nineteenth-Century America (2020); and Jennifer McFarlane-Harris and Emily Hamilton-Honey, Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers and Theologies of the Afterlife (2021). However, few of these recognize religious diversity, and one, Joshua King and Winter Jade Werner’s Constructing Nineteenth-Century Religion: Literary, Historical, and Religious Studies in Dialogue (2019), does not exclusively center on women’s unique experiences in patriarchal religions.


Therefore, we are soliciting proposals for a collection that will examine the concept of dual cultural alterity, or the “double alienation dilemma,” in nineteenth-century women’s religious writings. Because men ruled the world, and because Protestantism dominated the Anglosphere, religious women outside of the mainstream often underwent identity crises. That is, they experienced what Akil N. Awan has described as “essentially a double alienation or double sense of otherness that results in a staunch repudiation of, or at least a distinct lack of identification with, both minority (ethnic or parental) culture, and majority (mainstream or host society) culture, as a result of being unable or unwilling to fulfil either group’s normative expectations, and thus is likely to inspire feelings of uprootedness and lack of belonging.” Submissions might consider how women writers experienced double alienation as defined by Awan, or how their experiences unsettled this definition. For instance, some may have identified more with their minority culture and thus have had difficulties assimilating, while others may have identified more with their majority culture and thus have felt alienated from their families and communities. Some may have reconciled the two easier than others, and some may have lived at more intersections of identities than taken into account by Awan’s definition. Indeed, such experiences varied greatly among women of the nineteenth-century world. We want the chapters in this collection to address that diversity by considering a wide range of religious identities, including but not limited to Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, in addition to Protestantism.


Possible authors and topics include:


  • Catholic authors such as Anna Hanson Dorsey, Maria Ruiz de Burton, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rose Hawthorne [Mary Mother Alphonsa], Alice Christiana Gertrude Meynell, and Elizabeth Inchbald
  • Jewish authors such as Emma Lyon, Maria Polack, Elisabeth Polack, Grace Aguilar, Charlotte Montefiore, Judith Montefiore, Anna Maria Goldsmid, Marion and Celia Moss, Julia Frankau, Constance Rothschild, Emily Marion Harris, Katie Magnus, Amy Levy, Alice Lucas, Nina Davis, Lily H. Montagu, Miriam Mendes Belisario, Rosa Sonneschein, Emma Lazarus, Rebekah Hyneman, Penina Moise, and Emma Wolf
  • Mormon writers such as Susa Young Gates, Eliza R. Snow, Ellen Jakeman, Emily S. Richards, Delia Fish, Louisa Greene Richards, Annie Pike, Lillian Stewart Horsley, Josephine Spencer, Christine D. Young, Kate Thomas, Edyth Ellerbeck, and Minnie Moore Brown
  • British converts to Islam such as Lady Evelyn Cobbold [Zainab Cobbold], Mrs Nafeesa T Keep, Madame Teresa Griffin Viele [Sadika Hanou,], Lady Fatima Cates, and Jessie Ameena Davidson
  • Black Christian women writers such as Mary Prince and Mary Seacole as minorities both in civic society and within Christianity
  • Indian Christian women writers such as Cornelia Sorabji, Shevantibai Nikambe, and Krupabai Satthianadhan as minorities in predominately Hindu South Asia
  • Nonconformist and Dissenting women writers like those within the Steele circle in the West Country
  • Translations of non-dominant religious women's writings texts and the texts' influence in Europe and/or America
  • How immigrant and/or migrant experiences affected these women’s writers’ experiences
  • Diaries and letters of nineteenth-century religious women outside of the mainstream
  • Comparisons of these women’s writings to dominant discourses, whether social or religious
  • Topics such as women’s religious leadership, nationalism, colonialism, and diaspora, education and scholarship, sexuality, and politics
  • Literal and/or literary conversations between British and American women writers

Please send proposals of 250-300 words and a brief bio to LuElla D’Amico and Lindsay Katzir at Deadline for proposals is October 22, 2021; drafts will be due by March 25, 2022; finished chapters of 4,000-9,000 words will be due by June 10, 2022.