Date

5-1-2020

Description

Literary theorist Helene Cixous has written about l'ecriture feminine, a deconstructive force which allows female writers more freedom from male-dominated areas. Because Christianity has been historically male-dominated, Christian women have long used this idea to great effect, using their writing as a space in which they are free to assert power and authority. Mormonism, which arose in the 1830s during the Second Great Awakening, has grown to reinforce a patriarchal model for both family and church leadership, making Cixous's separate space of writing necessary for Mormon women of the twenty-first century. The Mormon poet Rachel Hunt Steenblik exemplifies this second space that Mormon women writers create; her 2017 volume Mother's Milk explores the idea of a feminine Deity, using poetry to teach theology with authority she is not afforded in traditional church spaces. Hunt Steenblik uses traditionally feminine themes alongside phrases and stories familiar to Mormon audiences to establish her authority as a Mormon woman. In doing this, she makes a space for theological ideas outside mainstream ecclesiastical authority, which is denied to women in the Mormon church. Hunt Steenblik's poems explore the connection between femininity and God through a mother-daughter relationship, mimic language from Mormon scripture to broaden the Mormon definition of divinity, and use prayer to legitimize the arguments of her volume as revelation from God. Hunt Steenblik's work asserts the need for redemption of humanity as a whole as well as of the feminine divine and female theological power.

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May 1st, 12:00 AM

Seeking the Feminine Divine: Theology and Authority in Mormon Women's Contemporary Poetry

Literary theorist Helene Cixous has written about l'ecriture feminine, a deconstructive force which allows female writers more freedom from male-dominated areas. Because Christianity has been historically male-dominated, Christian women have long used this idea to great effect, using their writing as a space in which they are free to assert power and authority. Mormonism, which arose in the 1830s during the Second Great Awakening, has grown to reinforce a patriarchal model for both family and church leadership, making Cixous's separate space of writing necessary for Mormon women of the twenty-first century. The Mormon poet Rachel Hunt Steenblik exemplifies this second space that Mormon women writers create; her 2017 volume Mother's Milk explores the idea of a feminine Deity, using poetry to teach theology with authority she is not afforded in traditional church spaces. Hunt Steenblik uses traditionally feminine themes alongside phrases and stories familiar to Mormon audiences to establish her authority as a Mormon woman. In doing this, she makes a space for theological ideas outside mainstream ecclesiastical authority, which is denied to women in the Mormon church. Hunt Steenblik's poems explore the connection between femininity and God through a mother-daughter relationship, mimic language from Mormon scripture to broaden the Mormon definition of divinity, and use prayer to legitimize the arguments of her volume as revelation from God. Hunt Steenblik's work asserts the need for redemption of humanity as a whole as well as of the feminine divine and female theological power.