Saturday, April 05, 2008

McCluskey, Colleen. "Review of Judith Chelius Stark, ed. FEMINIST INTERPRETATIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE." NDPR April 6, 2008.

Stark, Judith Chelius, ed. Feminist Interpretations of Augustine. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2007. . . . Augustine's legacy is a mixed one. As some of the authors point out, Augustine's views on women were not as extreme as some of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, his views are bad enough, and his tremendous influence both in the history of the church and upon current church doctrine and attitudes must not be underestimated or dismissed as anachronistic. On the other hand, as many of the authors also point out, Augustine's texts remain interesting and fruitful, both for increasing our understanding of our intellectual heritage and as a more positive resource for feminist work. There is a tendency among feminists (and philosophers in at least some quarters) to dismiss the medieval period as uninteresting and lacking in philosophical value. As a medievalist (and a feminist), I have come to appreciate the intellectual work of the Middle Ages, both as engaging in its own right and as a valuable source of insight for my own work and my own life. At the very least, it is clear that examining the history of philosophy is important to understand the social/cultural legacy we have inherited for better or for worse. It is incumbent upon us as scholars to clarify the fundamental positions of this inheritance, allowing it to stand (as much as we are able) on its own terms in all its glory and failures. Anything else is, in my view, intellectually dishonest. I see this collection of essays, and Penn State's Rereading the Canon series in general, as an attempt to do just that. From my perspective, the book succeeds marvelously in its purpose. This is a book that anyone who has a sincere desire to come to terms with Augustine's legacy and its impact on the lives of both women and men ought to consider reading. Read the entire review here:

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