The two hundredth anniversary of Josephine Butler’s death falls in 2006. Diana Neal and Jenny Daggers propose to edit a twelve-chapter book, with the aim of making a contemporary assessment of Butler’s contribution and of the progress, or predicament, of her various projects at the start of the third millennium. The book is provisionally titled, Sex, Gender and Religion: an Assessment of Josephine Butler’s Legacy.
The collection is envisaged as interdisciplinary, rather than exclusively historical. By allowing Butler’s concerns to focus our attention on the predicament of those same concerns in contemporary British society, the editors hope both to reveal Butler herself in a new light, and to illuminate the substantial shifts, which have occurred in these chosen areas over the intervening two hundred years.
There are many facets to Butler’s life and commitments, which merit contemporary attention. These include:
Her contribution to ‘first-wave’ sexuality debates and the politics surrounding prostitution. How do contemporary debates and politics look in comparison?
Butler was both biographer and (was and is) the subject of biography. How do researchers interested in feminist auto/biography, both literary and sociological, assess this aspect?
A biography of Catherine of Sienna was among Butler’s works. How does her writing compare with contemporary feminist interest in mysticism?
Butler was of evangelical background, but perceived herself as a mystic, sympathetic with nineteenth century Christian socialism. After her death, William Joseph portrayed her as ‘a forgotten saint’, and campaigned successfully for her inclusion within the saints’ days of the Anglican lectionary. How might her Anglican affiliations be assessed within the context of nineteenth century Anglicanism, and within the context of current reassertions of ‘orthodoxy’ over against ‘the social gospel’?
Butler was clearly both Christian and feminist. How does her ‘Christian feminism’ compare with British ‘second-wave’ Christian feminism of the 1970s and 1980s?
Those interested in the above areas, or other appropriate contributions, should send a 250 word chapter proposal to the following address by Monday 9 July 2001.
Dr Diana Neal / Dr Jenny Daggers
Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies
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