Spring 2018 Areopagus Lecture

“Victorian Wisdom for Contemporary Plights: George MacDonald, Gender, & Freedom”

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 this lecture, Gisela H. Kreglinger, joins us to discuss 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 argues that MacDonald frames his account of gender roles according to the Genesis story of humanity’s Fall - emphasizing systemic sin and pathological patterns of relationship 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 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.

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Gisela H. Kreglinger

Gisela H. Kreglinger holds a PhD in historical theology from the University of St. Andrews. She is the author of Storied Revelations: Parables, Imagination, and George MacDonald’s Christian Fiction (2013) and The Spirituality of Wine (2016), which was featured on Volume 134 of the Journal.