Areopagus Lecture 3
Gisela Kreglinger: Victorian Wisdom for Contemporary Plights
Current protests and debates make us acutely aware of abuses fueled by unhealthy gender stereotypes and a culture infatuated with sex and coercive power. The desire to break free from the confinement of societal norms is especially strong among women. For the spring 2018 Areopagus Lecture, theologian Gisela Kreglinger, in a talk entitled “Victorian Wisdom for Contemporary Plights: George MacDonald, Gender, & Freedom” discussed how George MacDonald’s perspective on gender roles might guide us through some of the questions, problems, and concerns we face today.
Drawing from MacDonald’s lesser-known fairytale, The Day Boy and the Night Girl, Kreglinger argued that MacDonald frames his account of gender roles according to the Genesis story of humanity’s Fall, emphasizing systemic sin and pathological patterns of relationships before addressing individual sins. By approaching the question of gender through universal human categories, MacDonald subverts oppressive gender stereotypes and illuminates how both women and men suffer from dehumanizing societal norms. But rather than positing individual gender identities over and against all others, MacDonald’s story shows how gender relies upon the weaknesses and strengths of its complement, such that ultimately human gender and freedom flourish through the act of self-giving love.
Gisela Kreglinger on George MacDonald and gender
“We have to realize that both men and women are part of cultural confinements in gender roles that make both of them act in unhealthy ways. George MacDonald in [The Day Boy and the Night Girl] emphasizes that both women and men are affected by the Fall. He realizes that both men and women are oppressed and unbalanced in unhelpful and unhealthy power structures.”