Contemporary International Catholic Literature by Women
To define contemporary Catholic literature by women, we must start by examining current notions of the genre of Catholic fiction—particularly those that minimize or ignore altogether the works of women writers—and by reconsidering how to account for the range of differences in the contemporary Catholic experience. Readers of traditional Catholic women’s literature, such as McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood and Gordon’s The Company of Women, often fail to realize that such books not only spawned a genre but also constrict it. Critics apply the term “Catholic” to such texts because the themes, issues, and lives of the characters center on Catholicism; the religion functions as the sole defining experience for McCarthy’s remembered girlhood and Felicitas’s fictional one. Labrie, writing about Catholic literature in The Catholic Imagination in American Literature, notes that his study “deals with authors who represent high intellectual and artistic achievements, … considers only authors who were practicing Roman Catholics, and … focuses only on literary works that center on Catholic belief and spirituality” (ix). Although he acknowledges that his is not an exhaustive study, Labrie, nonetheless, establishes a canon of Catholic literature, one that encompasses only a small number of texts that fit his criteria of artistic merit and an even smaller number of writers who satisfy his biographical requirements.
KeywordsCatholic Church Woman Writer Final Payment Catholic Woman Catholic Teaching
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