Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns

Paperback | March 16, 2016

byAbbie Reese

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As a subculture, cloistered monastic nuns live hidden from public view by choice. Once a woman joins the cloister and makes final vows, she is almost never seen and her voice is not heard; her story is essentially nonexistent in the historical record and collective, public history.From interviews conducted over six years, Abbie Reese tells the stories of the Poor Clare Colettine Order, a cloistered contemplative order at the Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford, Illinois. Seldom leaving their 25,000-square-foot gated enclosure, members of this community embrace an extremeversion of poverty and anonymity - a separation that enables them to withdraw from the world to devote their lives to prayer. This removal, they contend, allows them to have a greater impact on humanity than if they maintained direct contact with loved ones and strangers.Dedicated to God explores individual and cultural identity through oral history interviews with several generations of nuns, focusing on the origins and life stories of the women who have chosen to become members of one of the strictest religious orders. But the narrative is also one of a collectivememory and struggle against extinction and modernity, a determination to create community within the framework of ancient rules.The author's stunning photographs of their dual worlds, religious and quotidian, add texture to the narrative. This artistic and ethnographic work highlights the countercultural values and dedication of individuals who, at incredible personal cost, live for love of God and humanity, out of faith inwhat cannot be seen, and with the belief that they will be rewarded in the afterlife.

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As a subculture, cloistered monastic nuns live hidden from public view by choice. Once a woman joins the cloister and makes final vows, she is almost never seen and her voice is not heard; her story is essentially nonexistent in the historical record and collective, public history.From interviews conducted over six years, Abbie Reese t...

Abbie Reese is an independent scholar and interdisciplinary artist who utilizes oral history and ethnographic methodologies to explore individual and cultural identity. She received an MFA in visual arts from the University of Chicago and was a fellow at the Columbia University Oral History Research Office Summer Institute. Her multime...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:March 16, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190490594

ISBN - 13:9780190490591

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionPART I: THE CALLIn Her Own Words: Sister Mary Monica1. Community LifeIn Her Own Words: Sister Maria Deo Gratias2. The Claustrophobic NunIn Her Own Words: Sister Mary MichaelPART II: THE LIFE3. Monastic Living in a Throwaway CultureIn Her Own Words: Sister Mary Joseph4. Little House, Big HeartIn Her Own Words: Sister Mary Clara5. Responsibility for the WorldIn Her Own Words: Sister Joan Marie6. The Suffering ServantsIn Her Own Words: AnonymousPART III: THE THREATS7. Idealism and RealityIn Her Own Words: Sister Ann Marie8. Erased from the Landscape

Editorial Reviews

"Reese's narrative, based on six years of meticulous interviews, allows us to hear cloistered nuns' own voices and see their (interior and exterior) lives in all of their complexity. Reese explores the Poor Clare Colettines' resolve not to be 'erased from the landscape' but instead to serve asthe 'agents of change' that they are. This is a new and fresh view of the cloistered life, a welcome contribution to the growing body of literature on the lives of women religious." --Debra Campbell, author of Graceful Exits: Catholic Women and the Art of Departure