Although female saints are usually presented as submissive and unquestioning of authority, a careful reading of their lives reveals patterns of resistance and accommodation to authority. How do the images of female saints demonstrate perceptions of gender (and sexuality) in different socio-historical contexts? How do these images suit the political and social climate in which they were developed? How do the images change over time to reflect changing views of gender? How did the church and the culture at large conceive of appropriate gender representations and transgressions through the centuries? Finally, I will discuss the implications of these changing representations of saints and their impact on present day gendered representations of women.
Oliva M. Espín is Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University and of Psychology at Alliant International University (California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego).
She specializes in the psychology of Latinas, immigrant and refugee women, women’s sexuality across cultures and in qualitative research methodology.
She received beside other awards the Distinguished Career Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 2001.
She is the author of
- Women Crossing Boundaries: A Psychology of Immigration and Transformations of Sexuality (Routledge, 1999),
- Sin or Salvation: The Relationship Between Sexuality and Spirituality in Psychotherapy (Routledge, 2009),
- Out There! Exploring the Varied Experiences of Lesbian Youth (Taylor and Francis, 2010),
- Integrating the Personal and Social Voices of Latinas in Feminist Therapy (Taylor and Francis, 2011).
Dr. Espín has recently turned her attention to the study of women saints from feminist and psychological perspectives.
In Spring 2010, Dr. Espín is spending Summer Semester 2010 at the University of Klagenfurt as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence.