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Title: Gendering Liberation: "Deprivatising" Women's Subjectivity in the Prayer-Poetry of Dorothee Soelle
Author(s): Neumann, Katja L E
Supervisor(s): Hass, Andrew
Jasper, Alison
Keywords: Dorothee Soelle
Women's Subjectivity
Liberation theology
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This study investigates the artistic expressions of women’s subjectivity in the prayer-poetry of Dorothee Sölle (1929-2003). My aim is to develop a critical introduction of Sölle’s poetry, in light of her theology and in conversation with literary theory, contextualising the reception of her work and the role of reception in subjectivity as these converge in her prayerful hermeneutic. In what I come to call “liturgical reception”, I provide a perspective on Sölle’s work on the basis of translations for an English speaking context. I draw on contemporary thought, ranging from feminism and liberation theology to hermeneutics, literary theory and philosophy, to shape the contour and scope of Sölle’s work. Addressing feminist debates that consider the role of gendered subjectivity in relation to pervasive hetero-normative structures, I facilitate Mary Gerhart’s notion of the “genric” and Luce Irigaray’s work on the “sexuate” to clarify the issues arising in Sölle’s poetry in the context of language and literature, as well as classic formulations of God and the Church. Thinking through gendered subjectivity allows liberation to emerge as a poetic process that opens up personal prayer for the wider community. In light of Sölle’s early comments on “Deprivatised Prayer” [1971], I argue for a theopoetic conception of prayer which takes the Death of God not as an end point, but as a starting point for a consciously critical negotiation of gendered faith identity in community. The conditions of the Death of God, to Sölle a sign for the loss of immediacy in the sense of naïveté (Ricoeur) – and therefore a loss of unproblematic intimacy – require prayer to take into account its gendered situation, since prayer is never not embodied. Sölle’s portrayals of woman-lover, mother and artist both rely upon and differentiate the relationship between emancipation and solidarity that I see addressed by liberation hermeneutics as the work of co-creation. Thus emerges a theopoetic vision that does not dissolve gender difference in favour of a “general” salvation, but offers a critique of the process of liberation itself tied into our gendered engagements with a theological reception of women at prayer.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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