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Religion

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Abstract

Religion was of paramount importance to Victorian women writers. This is evident across a range of genres and has been the subject of increased critical attention in recent years. Religion was as important to men as it was to women, but it is revealing to think specifically about women’s writing and to interrogate the long-running tendency in secular accounts of modernity for religion to be confined to the domestic sphere and treated as a private matter. Victorian women were excluded from certain forms of public life, and religious thought was sometimes complicit in this exclusion. But secular ideologies were also guilty of feminizing religion and seeking to restrict the scope of faith and religious practice. Faced with a variety of restrictions, a number of women writers explored the capacity of religious discourse to facilitate new lines of thought and contribute to public debate. In doing so, these writers often experimented with the form and content of religious thought and examined different ways in which religious belief and practice could carve out new space for women.