America’s literature is notably marked by a preoccupation with the spiritual quest. Questing heroes from Huck Finn to Nick Adams have undertaken solitary journeys that pull them away from family and society and into a transformative wilderness that brings them to a new understanding of the spiritual world. Women, however, have not often been portrayed as questing heroes. Bound to home and community, they have been more frequently cast as representatives of that stifling world from which the hero is compelled to flee. Are women in American literary texts thus excluded from spiritual experience?
Kristina K. Groover, in examining this question, finds that books by American women writers offer alternative patterns for seeking revelation—patterns which emphasize not solitary journeys, but the sacredness of everyday life. Drawing on the work of feminist theorists and theologians, including Carol Gilligan, Naomi Goldenberg, and Rosemary Ruether, Groover explores the spiritual nature and force of domesticity, community, storytelling, and the garden in the works of such writers as Toni Morrison, Katherine Anne Porter, Kaye Gibbons, and Alice Walker. Ordinary, personal experience in these works becomes a source for spiritual revelation. Wisdom is gained, lessons are learned, and lives are healed not in spite of home and communal ties, but because of them.
Thus, American women writers, Groover argues, make alternative literary and spiritual paradigms possible. Similarly, Kristina K. Groover, in this lucid and groundbreaking work, opens up new fields of exploration for any reader interested in women’s spirituality or in the rich, diverse field of American literature.
About the Author
Educated at Dickinson College and at the University of North Carolina, Kristina K. Groover currently is an assistant professor of English at Appalachian State University. She is the author of numerous articles, which have been published in such journals as the Kentucky Review and the Southern Quarterly. She lives and works in Boone, North Carolina.