Book Chapter

In Defence of Female Genius: Maude Royden and Passionate Celibacy


Jasper A (2010) In Defence of Female Genius: Maude Royden and Passionate Celibacy. In: Anderson P (ed.) New Topics in Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Contestations and Transcendence Incarnate. Amsterdam: Springer, pp. 181-197.

Genius is a concept, derived from a pre-Christian European past which has been identified with the creativity of an exclusively masculine, transcendent, disembodied and idealised god. This identification has encouraged the view that women, in so far as they represent both singularity and materiality, cannot exemplify the divine creativity of genius and that, for the same reasons, the feminine has no part in any understanding of the creativity of the transcendent divine. Julia Kristeva's re-vision of "female genius" draws on psycholinguistics and also her own use of revolt to claim that the feminine and especially the feminine maternal, far from being excluded from genius, constitutes the key to its dynamics. I use Kristeva on female genius to shed light on the life and work of Maude Royden (1876-1956). Royden, an early campaigner for women's ordination, exhibits female genius insofar as, celebrated or not, she exceeds the boundaries set against her by patriarchal ideologies. Royden helps gradually to reveal what these ideologies are excluding, while proposing a creative alternative.

Female Genius; Representation; Semiotic; Singularity; Maude Royden; Julia Kristeva

Publication date31/12/2010
Publisher URL…-4020-6833-1_12#
Place of publicationAmsterdam