Month: March 2018

Paula Modersohn-Becker: Women and Ambition, German (1876-1907) by Theresa C. Dintino

What if there were a woman born in the late 1800s with the ambition to paint a way no woman had ever painted before, to paint women in a way women had never been painted before, to bring the female sensibility and perspective to art in a way it had not been seen before? What if that woman had a lot of ambition and fought her position, status and the misogyny and sexism of the day and actually succeeded in doing everything she had set out to do? If there were such a woman and she did accomplish all...

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Esclarmonde of Foix the Great: Pope of the Heretics, French (1151– 1215) Original painting and text by Karin Peschau

Countess Zebella Trencavel of Carcassone and her husband Roger Bernard, the count of Foix, gave their daughter an Occitan name, “Light of the world.” In a period when women were often despised, and treated as mere possession, Esclarmonde was a shining light, both for the enlightenment of human beings and for the condition of women – the issue she was most deeply involved with. At her parents’ court in Foix, the esoteric and romantic culture of troubadour love was lived and practiced. Esclarmonde married the Lord of L’Isle Jourdain, with whom she had six children. When, in 1200 AD, she...

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Ursula K. Le Guin: Women, Writing and Motherhood, American (1929-2018) by Theresa C. Dintino

When I was in my late twenties, there was one essay I read in the New York Times Book Review that moved me so deeply that I immediately signed up for a summer writing workshop where the writer of the essay was teaching. It was not like me to go to writing workshops anymore at that age.  I was in complete burnout with the workshop culture from my college writing program and the many writing workshops I had gone to after. I was what I would call a “beginning writer” at that point, trying to find my authentic voice,...

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Margaret Fuller’s Manifesto, 1845, American (1810-1850)by Maria Dintino

Never heard of Margaret Fuller? You’re not alone. In 1855, five years after her untimely death, famed English novelist George Eliot noted in The Leader that Margaret’s book Woman in the Nineteenth Century had been “unduly thrust into the background.” The first work of American feminism should not have been thrust into the background and it’s beyond time to bring the work and its writer back to light. Sarah Margaret Fuller was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1810. Her father Timothy Fuller, disappointed his first child was a girl, decided to educate her as a boy. Despite knowing she would not be allowed entry into...

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Marija Gimbutas: Unearthing the Goddess, Rocking My World, Lithuanian-American (1921-1994) by Theresa C. Dintino

I don’t know that there is any book that changed my life more than Marija Gimbutas’ The Language of the Goddess. I cannot remember what my life was like before I opened this book, before I knew these images, these cultures. Most probably they were always there, buried deep in the layers of my consciousness—women’s prehistory—haunting my dreams and moments of deep repose. Marija’s book offered them context.  And that was not a small thing. That was everything. That is but one part of the importance of her work. It gave these “memories,” these images, that lay at the...

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Adrienne Rich: A Voice that Echoes in My Body, American (1929-2012) by Theresa C. Dintino

Of all the lines written in the English language, the ones that have inspired, moved and meant the most to me are the ones penned by Adrienne Rich. My worn and tattered copy of The Dream of a Common Language, read, loved and turned to so many times, continues to be my favorite book to take off the shelf and revisit. Occasionally, when I remember (or hear as a whisper in my ear) one of the lines from a poem printed in it, my body fills with excitement and deep memory or what could be described as a feeling...

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Simone de Beauvoir Wrote the Story of My Life, French (1908-1986) By Michelle Barthel Kratts

My awakening occurred the week of my birthday in 1984. I had just turned thirteen. Thirteen is a magical year for girls of many cultures. It is the year we “come of age.” There are rituals and ceremonies marking the “rite of passage.” Generations back, it is possible that some of our grandmothers may have even been married at this same tender age. For me, during the week of my thirteenth birthday, everything changed after I stepped into a little book shop on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada—when I discovered the works of Simone de Beauvoir. Simone de...

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Sojourner Truth: A Wandering Orator, American (c. 1797-1883) Original painting and text by Karin Peschau

Her face speaks to us about the chains of slavery, about the iron chains of the slaves in America, about the invisible chains, but still heart-breaking unjustness and cruelty of our modern, globalized civilization: an enormous part of the world’s population, women, men and children, is working itself to death in order to make an easy and comfortable life possible for the other part. The pain in this woman’s face is our pain as well. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery as Isabella (Belle) about 1797. Her mother, known as “Mau-Mau Bett” had 11 children with James Baumfree. Sojourner Truth...

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