The idea and ideal of “beauty” has been used to oppress women of different ages, body types, skin color, and physical ability. The theoretical discussion of aesthetics has also been conditioned by these same dynamics of power and oppression. In She Who Imagines, a diverse set of scholars challenges the exclusion and false definitions while constructing capacious ideas that discover beauty in unexpected places.
In these essays, the authors draw on a variety of arts media—painting, photography, portraiture, craftwork, poetry, and hip-hop music—thereby joining beauty to truth and, in a richly defining way, to the practice of justice. In a variety of ways all the essays link women’s definitions of beauty with experiences of suffering and hence with the yearning for justice. All clearly prize resistance to degradation as an essential element of thought.
Maureen H. O’Connell
Maureen H. O’Connell is associate professor of theology at Fordham University. She is the author of If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice (Liturgical Press, 2012) and Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization(Orbis, 2009).
Laurie Cassidy is associate professor of religious studies at Marywood University. She is co-editor of Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence (Orbis, 2007).
Calling into question the overlooked reality of women as creators and interpreters of beauty, [this book] opens new dimensions in the developing area of theological aesthetics as well as the traditional field of theological anthropology…. Its contribution to theology lies in the way it knocks on the door of theological aesthetics, showing the enrichment that could ensue if it opened to include women, their imaginative work of critique and their constructive work of interpretation. More broadly, it takes its place in the growing body of work that contributes to the struggle for human dignity and spiritual self-determination for women that is a hallmark of our time. Read it with anticipation of bracing critique and constructive ideas, especially regarding the linkage of beauty with justice.
- From the Foreword by Elizabeth A. Johnson, author of Quest for the Living God and She Who Is