Writing Catholic Women examines the interplay of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and sexuality through the lens of Catholicism in a wide range of works by women writers, forging interdisciplinary connections among women's studies, religion, and late twentieth-century literature. Discussing a diverse group of authors, Jeana DelRosso posits that the girlhood narratives of such writers constitute highly charged sites of their differing gestures toward Catholicism and argues that an understanding of the ways in which women write about religion from different cultural and racial contexts offers a crucial contribution to current discussions in gender, ethnic, and cultural studies.
Review from Choice:This book's brevity (together with its spider-speck print and prissy dust jacket) utterly belies the wit, energy, and robustness of both subject and treatment. In fact, DelRosso (College of Notre Dame of Maryland) offers a ranging exploration of recent literary representations of formative Catholic experience for women. Carrying the discussion beyond Elizabeth Evasdaughter's Catholic Girlhood Narratives (CH, Nov'96, 34-1357) and across genres and national boundaries, the author surprises the reader with the texts she treats as essentially Catholic - works by Isabella Allende, Shirley Goek-Lin Lim, Mary Gordon, Audre Lord, among others more obvious. Describing her approach as "polemically radical," DelRosso reveals the near-unbearable demands on girls/women built into Catholic orthodoxy and uncovers in these texts the rich veins of resistance, rebellion, comic subversion, and "religious syncretism" that defy canonical strictures and oblige one to rethink what it means to be Catholic in the 21st century. Though this reviewer wonders at certain omissions (e.g., recent rich Italian American women's writing), finding writers like Francine Prose, Ana Castillo, Edna O'Brien, Regina Barreca, Rigoberta Menchu , and Gish Jen in "conversation" under the same roof compensates and will invite lively discourse among readers in literature and religious studies. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. - - F. Alaya, emerita, Ramapo College of New Jersey