Elective unit                                                                                                          (Min. No. 8)

1st semester: Tuesday evening, cross listed as Church History CH9215Y



This unit explores the meaning of Christian spirituality using the writings of women throughout history. Emphasis will be placed on the historical context of the primary sources used, the struggles of women in coming to find their own voices within their contexts, and their specific literary genres. This study aims to bring the reader to an appreciation of both the significance of these writings for their own times, as well as their continuing relevance to our life and mission in the Christian Church today.



Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. outline the elements that identify Christian Spirituality particularly in relation to women’s writings throughout history
  2. articulate the historical contexts within which women communicate Christian spirituality throughout history
  3. identify key features of Christian spirituality within women’s writings
  4. interpret a range of literary genres used by women writers in Christian History
  5. discuss the implications of the understanding of these texts for ministry in the contemporary Christian church
  6. describe how women did or did not find their voice through their writings in the context of the Church of their times
  7. demonstrate the critical and creative tension between an understanding of historical texts in their original context and an appreciation of their contemporary value


Tutorial journal 1000 words (20%); tutorial essay 2000 words (30%); research essay 3000 words (50%)



Castelli, Elizabeth A. Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making. New York: Columba University Press, 2007.

Coon, Lynda L. Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 1997.

Day, Dorothy. The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of Dorothy Day. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1981.

Finnegan, Mary Jeremy. The Women of Helfta: Scholars and Mystics. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

Harmless, William. Mystics. Oxford: OUP, 2008.

Hilesum, Etty. An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum. Preface by Eva Hoffman. London: Persephone, 1999.

Schulenberg, Jane Tibbets. Forgetful of her Sex: Female Sanctity and Society: 500-1100. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1998.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works. Translated by Edith Grossman. London: Norton, 2014.

Tyler, Peter, and Edward Howells, eds. Teresa of Avila: Mystical Theology and Spirituality in the Carmelite Tradition. London: Routledge, 2017.

Ward, Benedicta, trans. Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Vol. 59. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1984.

Wheeler, Bonnie, ed. Listening to Heloise: The Voice of a Twelfth-Century Woman. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2000.