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Sexual Politics in the Church of England, 1857-1957$
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Timothy Willem Jones

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199655106

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655106.001.0001

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Women Religious

Women Religious

(p.46) 2 Women Religious
Sexual Politics in the Church of England, 1857-1957

Timothy Willem Jones

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the significance of the revival of women’s religious orders on Anglican sexual politics. It compares the revival of the order of deaconesses with that of the sisterhoods, or nuns. Both movements utilized Victorian notions of social motherhood to enable middle-class women to expand their sphere of activity, often free from direct male authority. Deaconess’s ancient genealogy and sacral ambiguity, the unresolved question of their place in Holy Orders, meant that they grew less rapidly than the sisterhoods. It also, however, meant that they posed a much more substantial challenge to Anglican sexual metaphysics.

Keywords:   women religious, nuns, deaconesses, Anglo-Catholic revival, feminism, social motherhood, ordination

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