Finally, dear readers, the time has come: the women of WIT are pleased to announce the addition of five new members, whom we are excited to introduce below.

We’d like to say first that when we put out a call for new bloggers back in February, we actually weren’t sure that we would get any applications, so it felt like a risk. But we were pleasantly surprised to receive upwards of twenty-five applications from smart, interesting women dedicated to the task of doing Christian theology well and with women’s voices at the forefront.

We wish that we could take everybody right now, but we do hope that WIT will expand over the years, and we would love to have those women reapply at those expansion points. In any case, we ourselves have now seen proof of the need for women in theology to have spaces online to dialogue critically and creatively, with and for each other.

So without further ado, we’d like to announce that we are adding the following women:

Amaryah Shaye, Brandy Daniels, Janice Rees, Maria McDowell, and Elissa Cutter. As you’ll see below, each of these women brings her own particular area of expertise and interest, which we believe will really enhance WIT’s Christian feminist mission.

We’re staggering the inclusion process a bit since expanding well takes time, energy, and prudence, so Amaryah, Brandy, and Janice will start blogging in May, and Maria and Elissa will start in November.

Here are their bios!

Amaryah Shaye graduated from Candler School of Theology with a Masters of Theological Studies and a love of interdisciplinary scholarship. From systematic theology to critical race theory, urban planning to French philosophy, and queer theory to anarchism she enjoys creating new thoughts from a wide array of intellectual companions. Currently, she is reading various theological and non-theological writings on place and thinking about how Christian articulations and practices of desire cultivate affective capacities for intimacy with places. She is curious about how, in modernity, these Christian articulations and practices of desire collide with and lend themselves to White supremacist aims–particularly through racialized arrangements of space (think segregation, gentrification and displacement, incarceration)–especially in how cities get planned and rearranged, how rural and semi-rural land gets claimed and reclaimed, and how suburban “placelessness” gets constructed… all depending on their desirability to whiteness. For Amaryah, these topics raise questions of how the spatial ramifications of Christianity’s collision and complicity with White supremacy take on a particularly erotic and gendered nature by virtue of the racialized desire White supremacist (re)arrangements of space depend on for their success. In addition to reading, writing, and thinking, she  is also a burgeoning techie, long time gamer, songwriter, typesetter and ebook developer, liminal Catholic, and black quasi-anarchist queer.

Brandy Daniels is a Ph.D. student in Theological Studies at Vanderbilt University, where she is also in the fellowship program in Theology and Practice. She has just finished her second year in the program which means she has finished coursework (finally!) and has begun the process of studying for her comprehensive exams. She has an M.Div. (with a certificate in Gender, Theology, and Ministry) and an A.M (Comparative Literature, African American Studies) from Duke University. Her research interests center around questions of theological anthropology at the intersections of systematic theology, critical theory, ethics, and identity. More specifically, she is interested in exploring ways in which theological discourse has operated as a site of knowledge production towards problematic constructions of gender, sexuality, and race and how, in light of such constructions, theological discourse can be liberative. Some of the other/related theological interests and questions she is passionate about are the state of feminism in the theological academy;  kinships structures in contemporary Western culture, in Christian ecclesial contexts, and in marginalized communities; and in the works of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She is also under-care for ordination with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church). Oh, and when she’s not studying, she likes to run and ride her bike (she’s currently training for an Ironman), hang out with friends, and drink good beer, especially good IPA’s.

Janice Rees is a doctoral candidate in systematic theology at Charles Sturt University (Sydney) and is due to complete her dissertation in July 2013 (phew!).  Her research is focused on the relationship between systematic theology and feminist theology / gender theory. She is interested in exploring the ways historical Christian faith provides resources for responding to the complex contemporary questions of gender and difference. In particular, she seeks to highlight the significance of classical doctrine –such as the doctrine of creation, sin, and the Trinity – in responding to contemporary philosophical challenges. She is very much interested in the theology of Sarah Coakley, Kathryn Tanner and Rowan Williams. However, Janice is not simply interested in defending ‘systematic theology’ against the many charges levelled against the discipline (which she believes are more often than not, accurate) and she spends many hours lamenting the indifference she encounters to the questions she believes are at the centre of whatever ‘systematic’ might mean. As an ordained minister in the Salvation Army, Janice pastored two churches over the past six years and in July will take up a position as lecturer in systematic theology at a regional college in Fiji (where she now lives). She loves to run, swim, dance, and make up whimsical tales with her two vivacious children (aged 6 and 2).

Maria Gwyn McDowell holds a doctorate in Theological Ethics from Boston College. She is feminist, a student of liberation theology, and a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is her life-long participation in Orthodoxy that motivates her to advocate for the ministry of Orthodox women, in particular, their ordination. Orthodoxy is her home, her joy, her love, and her abiding frustration, which is why she remains Orthodox and chooses to speak from within. Along with her commitment to more abstract theological discourse regarding gender, sexuality and women in the church (and various other topics that tickle her fancy), she is highly committed to ensuring that her god-daughter knows that she too is fully made in the image of God. In addition to all the requisite spiritual and theological education, this entails impressing upon this youthful spirit a deep and fanatical love for the Rose City Thorns, offering ongoing instruction in appropriate heckling and side-line coaching at all available home games. When not attending soccer matches (the Timbers are an acceptable second to the Thorns), reading, writing or engaged in gainful employment she may be hiking the Columbia Gorge, drinking snooty micro-brewed beer at her favorite watering holes, or spending time with her lovely family.

Elissa Cutter is a doctoral candidate in historical theology at Saint Louis University who focuses primarily on seventeenth-century French Catholicism. In particular, she first became interested in the movement known as “Jansenism” after reading the Pensées of Blaise Pascal in a French literature class while studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. Presently, her research looks at the writings of Angélique Arnauld, the abbess of the Jansenist convent of Port-Royal, and argues that her sacramental and ecclesiological contributions qualify her to be considered a theologian just as much as the more well known male figures of the movement (e.g., Cornelius Jansen, Blaise Pascal, Antoine Arnauld, etc.). While initially resistant to being pegged as another woman theologian studying female figures, in her dissertation work she’s fully embraced the efforts of feminist theology to recover female theologians of the past. Of course, in examining Mother Angélique as theologian, her work also touches on the metaquestions of “what is theology?” and “what makes someone a theologian?” Although trained historically, Elissa is interested in wider questions related to ecclesiology, authority, sacramentology, and religion in France (in this case, especially in church-state relations, both historically—in the early modern period through the French revolution—and today). In her teaching, Elissa tries to emphasize the relevance of understanding theology for popular culture, through literature, movies, and music (drawing on everyone from Madonna to Joan Osborne to Lady Gaga). In her free time, Elissa frequently goes hiking and rock climbing with her husband. She also loves to cook. While working on her M.A. her grandmother suggested she purchase a slow cooker and since then she’s found slow cooking to be especially suitable for the graduate student lifestyle.

Please give these women a warm welcome and wish us well in this new phase of collaboration!

13 thoughts

  1. This is great news! I really look forward to their contributions. For another quick improvement to your blog you should look into installing Disqus comments. It is really easy through WordPress.

      1. Sure. Disqus allows pretty sophisticated threaded comments making back & forth conversations in the comment threads easier to follow than the default WordPress comments. Disqus is becoming really common across the blogosphere. A user can have a constant profile over the various sites they read & comment at. If someone says something insightful they can follow that person to other locations to see what conversations they’re having. You can up-vote/down-vote a comment (think Facebook liking) which allows your readers to indicate what contributions they value and sift through the comments for quickly for substantive remarks vs. shallow or negative ones.

        For the blog owner, Disqus has some nice features too. It will tell you who comments the most often on your site and whether their comments tend to generate further conversation in the form of replies, whether they are positively or negatively received by your readers etc…

        Admittedly when you’re only getting 5 comments on a post many of these features aren’t super necessary, but when you get 40 comments it is suddenly really helpful to be able to get through the comments. I’m not kidding though, that it is becoming the default comment app through the blogosphere. Patheos just installed it for all of their bloggers. Check to see how it works/looks. When you install it through WordPress it automatically detects your theme and uses those colors to try to blend in.


    1. FWIW, I find Disqus comment threads pretty much unusable. The default font is tiny, and zooming in cuts off the bottom of the comment thread. Sometimes I can zoom in too far and then zoom back out and it works almost properly, but overall I find it *very* accessibility-unfriendly.

  2. Welcome new bloggers! Looking forward to hearing what you have to say. I am greatly encouraged by the diversity of this group, but to see similarities, such as a love of theology AND craft beer. That is finding God in all things, just the way I like it!

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