Women's spiritual writings in the beat and San Francisco renaissance movements
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AbstractAbstract This dissertation explores the connections between the subversive spiritual writings of women involved in the Beat and San Francisco Renaissance movements and the writings of second-wave spiritual feminists, and finds a common foundation in the individualist ethos of postwar American literary subcultures. The essentially spiritual project of conferring value on individuals undertaken within Beat poetics held special promise for women, in that while conventional religions excluded women from a full participation in the spiritual universe, the Beats' insistence that each person has a connection with the numinous without institutional mediation theoretically allowed women the ability to identify fully with divinity, and to make themselves their own spiritual authorities. Having applied to themselves the Beat principle of the inviolability of the individual, the writings of women involved in the Beat and San Francisco Renaissance movements take the necessity of women's liberation as the starting point of their poetry. However, the greatly expanded landscape of spiritual possibility opened to women remained, in the basic structures of language and imagery, governed by masculinist assumptions that limited women's autonomy. These writers adopted strategies similar to those of later spiritual feminists in order to make religious systems conform to their individualist ideals. This thesis traces the development of spiritual feminism forward from Valerie Saiving's 1960 article "The Human Situation: A Feminine View," to the initial writings of the feminist Goddess religions of the late 1970s. It examines those strategies common to women in both movements in their attempts to establish positive space for women within patriarchal religions, and to create religious systems that honour the divine as feminine and take women's experiences as the basis of any theo/thealogy.
Bibliography: p. 227-237