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Title: Women choosing silence : transformational practices and relational perspectives
Author: Woolley, Alison Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 8174
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores chosen practices of silence in contemporary Christian women’s lives, insubstantially addressed within the literature of feminist and practical theologians. A survey of their discourse, which predominantly addresses the imposed silencing of women and the attendant quest for authentic voice to name their experiences, is supplemented by interdisciplinary exploration of silence within wider theologies, Quaker Studies, linguistics, and the talking and arts therapies. Employing feminist research methodologies, this qualitative study utilises descriptively rich material from semi-structured interviews to consider the function of silence within research interviews, to identify and map women’s engagement within a spectrum of practices of silence, to explore their role in the women’s spiritual journeys, and to highlight difficulties reported in sustaining this discipline. Data analysis shows that although frequently associated with solitude, practices of silence are valued as transformational in the women’s relationships with God, self, and others. A metaphor of a web is proposed to represent the process of relational change, and silence’s potential in developing relationally responsible communities is advocated. Explanations for feminist theologians’ neglect of chosen silence are derived from the analysis, and this discipline is invited to re-engage with silence as a resource for discovering authentic identity beyond egoic selfhood.
Supervisor: Slee, Nicola Sponsor: Audenshaw Foundation Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Silence ; Prayer ; Spiritual discipline ; Feminist theology ; Practical theology ; Women