A Celebration of Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month, the University of Notre Dame Press is proud to feature works on the excellent contributions of a diverse group of women. Academics, artists, political leaders, matrons—they are all here, manifesting in various ways the feminine genius.

“It is thus my hope, dear sisters, that you will reflect carefully on what it means to speak of the ‘genius of women,’, not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God’s plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church.”

—Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women

For the revolutionary:

Rachel Hui-Chi Hsu’s Emma Goldman, “Mother Earth,” and the Anarchist Awakening unveils the history and impact of an unprecedented anarchist awakening in early twentieth-century America. Mother Earth, an anarchist monthly published by Emma Goldman, played a key role in sparking and spreading the movement around the world. Hsu argues that Mother Earth stirred an unprecedented anarchist awakening, inspiring an antiauthoritarian spirit across social, ethnic, and cultural divides and transforming U. S. radicalism.

“This is a remarkable and groundbreaking book. Hsu not only treats the ideas of Emma Goldman and her comrades with unusual depth and care, she also examines how these radicals’ multifaceted activities impacted—and continue to impact—the wider world. The result is a revelatory exploration of anarchism’s far-reaching but forgotten influence on American history.”

—Kenyon Zimmer, author of Immigrants against the State

For the sophisticated moralist:

Erika Bachiochi’s The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision explores an all but forgotten intellectual history that asserts a moral vision of women’s rights and argues for a reawakening of this tradition as an alternative to modern feminism’s focus on autonomy. This book is unique in its treatment of the moral roots of women’s rights in America and its critique of the movement’s current trajectory. A smart and sophisticated application of Mary Wollstonecraft’s thought, Bachiochi’s work serves as a guide for how we might better value the culturally essential work of the home and thereby promote authentic personal and political freedom. 

“Bachiochi flips effortlessly from legal analysis to philosophical arguments to sociological observations to characters from classic literature in a way that is almost invisible to the reader . . . in a work that I would describe as, in many places, almost achingly beautiful.”

—Elizabeth R. Schiltz, co-editor of Feminism, Law, and Religion

For the aspiring journalist:

Waed Athamneh’s Defiance in Exile: Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan offers a glimpse into Syrian refugee women’s stories of defiance and triumph in the aftermath of the Syrian uprising. Athamneh presents the first book-length examination of refugee women’s own words about torment, struggle, and persecution—and of an enduring spirit that defies a difficult reality. Their stories speak of nearly insurmountable social, economic, physical, and emotional challenges and provide a distinct perspective of the Syrian conflict.

“The accounts are vivid and well-presented, and we need to hear such voices to counteract the often hostile rhetoric about Syrian refugees that one hears in North Atlantic countries.”

—Kim Shively, author of Islam in Modern Turkey

For the literary adventurer:

Listen to the Mourners: The Essential Poems of Nāzik Al-Malā’ika introduces readers to one of the most influential Iraqi poets of the twentieth century. Al-Malā’ika pioneered the modern Arabic verse movement when she broke away from the formalistic classical modes of Arabic poetry that had prevailed for more than fifteen centuries. Along with ʻAbdulwahhāb Al-Bayyāti and Badre Shākir Al-Sayyāb, she paved the way for the birth of a new modernist poetic movement in the Arab World. This accessible, beautifully rendered, and long overdue translation fills a gap in modern Arabic poetry in translation.

“This is an excellent translation, capturing the beauty of Nāzik Al-Malā’ika’s poetry, and making this formative, leading Arab poet available to an English audience.”

—Bassam K. Frangieh, author of Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture, and Thought from Pre-Islamic Times to the Present

For the curious interdisciplinary student:

Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century is an in-depth study examining the social, religious, and philosophical thought of Simone Weil, focusing especially on the depth of its challenge to contemporary philosophical and religious studies. In a world where little is seen to have real meaning, Eric O. Springsted presents a critique of the unfocused nature of postmodern philosophy and argues that Weil’s thought is more significant than ever in showing how the world in which we live is, in fact, a world of mysteries. For Weil, social and political questions cannot be separated from the supernatural. For her, rather, the world has a sacramental quality, such that life in the world is always a matter of life in God—and life in God, necessarily a way of life in the world.

“This book is an original contribution to Weil studies and beyond because it seeks to apply Simone Weil’s thought to twenty-first century issues directly. It is most welcome and valuable for exactly that reason.”

—Vance G. Morgan, author of Weaving the World

For educator and activist:

Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900–1959 is a collection of Burroughs’ writings that encapsulates her work as a theologian, philosopher, activist, educator, intellectual, and evangelist. Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879–1961) is just one of the many African American intellectuals whose work has been long excluded from the literary canon. This book represents a landmark contribution to the African American intellectual historical project by allowing readers to experience Burroughs in her own words. 

“This is a tremendous scholarly reintroduction of Nannie Helen Burroughs as a black thinker, a civil rights activist, and a race woman. It not only makes a substantial contribution to black intellectual history, but provides invaluable resources to black historians and black political theorists looking to theorize black women anew.”

—Tommy J. Curry, University of Edinburg

For the historian:

In Four Scraps of Bread, Magda Hollander-Lafon shares her memories as one of 437,000 Jews deported from Hungary between May and July 1944. Often centered on one person or place, the scenes of brutality and horror she describes are intermixed with reflections of a more meditative cast. Four Scraps of Bread is both historical and deeply evocative, melancholic, and at times poetic in nature. Hollander-Lafon recalls an experience she had in Birkenau: “A dying woman gestured to me: as she opened her hand to reveal four scraps of moldy bread, she said to me in a barely audible voice, ‘Take it. You are young. You must live to be a witness to what is happening here. You must tell people so that this never happens again in the world.'”

“This small, gentle book does not condemn anyone. In France, it was honored as the ‘spiritual book of the year.’ Indeed, it deserves to be recognized as the ‘humane book of the year.’ It is a book that tells of the complete inhumanity of an age, and how a smile from another person can bring light even in the darkest hours. Rarely has a book moved me so much. I need to read it again, and share what I have read in it, so that humanity never forgets—and never can forget.”

—Maria Stiefl-Cermak, Freiburger Rundbrief

For the independent thinker:

The Other Pascals: The Philosophy of Jacqueline Pascal, Gilberte Pascal Périer, and Marguerite Périer is the first full-length study of the philosophies of Blaise Pascal’s sisters, Jacqueline Pascal and Gilberte Pascal Périer, and his niece, Marguerite Périer. As the headmistress of the Port-Royal convent school, Jacqueline Pascal made important contributions to the philosophy of education. Gilberte Pascal Périer wrote the first philosophical biographies of Blaise and Jacqueline. Marguerite Périer defended freedom of conscience against coercion by political and religious superiors. While these women have long been presented as the disciples, secretaries, correspondents, and nurses of their brother and uncle, each woman developed a distinctive philosophy that is more than auxiliary to the thought of Blaise Pascal. 

“John Conley’s beautifully written and cogently presented study, The Other Pascals, ambitiously and sensitively inscribes these gendered female theologians into their appropriate and well-earned historical, cultural, and religious context. In so doing, Conley adds immeasurably to our understandings of the history, philosophy, and theology of the seventeenth century.”

—Catharine Randall, Dartmouth College

For the American theologian:

Brigid O’Shea Merriman’s Searching For Christ: The Spirituality of Dorothy Day looks at the widely acclaimed pioneer of American social Catholicism and co-founder of the Catholic Worker. Day’s religious vision and lifework have played a dramatic role in modern American Catholic history. Merriman demonstrates that Day’s leadership of this radical Catholic movement served as the locus for the development and fruition of her spirituality. A work of intellectual or spiritual history rather than biography, Searching for Christ explores Day’s spiritual roots in literature, especially the Scriptures, along with her sensibility and her aesthetic vision, all of which have received too little attention up to now.

“…well-written, extensively researched, and illuminating…”

—Commonweal

For the lover of medieval studies:

Sheila Delany’s A Legend of Holy Women: A Translation of Osbern Bokenham’s Legends of Holy Women is the spirited translation of Osbern Bokenham’s Legendys of Hooly Wummen (1443–1447), making  the first all-female hagiography available in modern English. Closely translated from elaborate, Latinate Middle English verse into fluent prose, A Legend of Holy Women contains the Augustinian friar’s version of the stories of 13 women saints from gospel, apocrypha, martyrology, and high-medieval history.

“We must be grateful to Ms. Delany for the assiduity of her well-researched and perceptive study of the life and works of this little known clerical poet.”

—Times Literary Supplement

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