Faculty Bookshelf


Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America's Sacred Ground
Edited by Barbara A. McGraw and Jo Renee Formicola
Baylor University Press

Barbara A. McGraw, a Saint Mary's professor of law and ethics, is the co-editor of Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America's Sacred Ground. In an increasingly polarized society, the book celebrates America's religious diversity and demonstrates that religious pluralism is actually one of democracy's basic building blocks. The book is co-edited by Jo Renee Formicola, a professor of political science at Seton Hall University.

The book draws on the moral and political framework of McGraw's 2003 book Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground, which regards religion as one of a variety of perspectives that can help create a greater society. Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously is a collection of writings by religious studies and political science scholars who speak from a wide range of religious traditions. The chapters explore how diverse faiths, including "newer" and marginalized religions, can make a meaningful contribution to American society and politics.

In her own chapter, McGraw asserts that the nation's founders embraced pluralism, and she demonstrates how people of faith can contribute to public debate without undermining our political system by excluding other voices.

Another chapter is written by Saint Mary's Dean of the School of Liberal Arts Stephen Woolpert, who explores the connection between spirituality and environmental concerns by examining one of the few politically influential proponents of eco-spirituality, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Woolpert points out that contrary to the hierarchical nature of current environmental discourse that places humans at the top of the chain of being, the Dalai Lama emphasizes relationships and interlinkages - consistent with the scientific understanding of an evolutionary universe.

The current debate over the role of religion and moral values in public life has resulted in polarizing elections and court battles. The contributors to Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously reinforce McGraw's contention that opening the public discourse to a broader spectrum of views will move our society beyond the current impasse between the religious right and the secular left.

Robert Desnos; Corps et biens ou le naufrage surréaliste
By Catherine Marachi
University Press of the South 2005

This new book by Saint Mary's Professor Catherine Marachi (English translation: Robert Desnos; "Without a Trace" or the Surrealist Shipwreck) offers a new reading of a heterogeneous collection of poems (1919-1929) by the surrealist writer Robert Desnos. The French-language book envisions the poems as a double quest: a search for self and for new poetic inspiration and language. Marachi ascertains that the "sea" is the liquid link for the poetical journey undertaken by Desnos. Yet the journey is not accomplished on the surface of the ocean, but vertically, as the poet descends into himself, in what Marachi sees as a willed naufrage, or shipwreck.

Marachi contends that each part of Corps et biens represents a different stage of this voluntary shipwreck. The first poems are a "de-construction" of language which destroys the frames of reality and reason and prepares the poet to penetrate the world of dreams, then nightmare and madness before returning to light and sanity. According to Marachi, this death-and-rebirth structure is that of authentic surrealism, where there are no gains without losses, and where language has creative and redemptive powers.

Berkeley Literary Women's Revolution: Essays from Marsha's Salon
Co-edited by Judy Wells
McFarland & Co. 2005

During the 1960s, academia remained largely the province of men. That began to change at UC Berkeley in 1969, when Marsha Hudson posted notices across campus proposing a feminist literary salon to elevate the status of women's works in and out of the classroom. The informal gatherings grew into an activist movement that led to the establishment of the first women's studies major at Berkeley, the publication of the first major anthologies of women's poetry, and demands for recognition throughout the educational system. The founders of the movement often risked their academic futures, yet their efforts helped change the face of higher education.

Judy Wells, a faculty member in Saint Mary's Graduate Liberal Studies Program, co-edited the book, along with Marsha Hudson, Bridget Connelly, Doris Earnshaw, and Olivia Eilson. In her essay, Wells describes the transformation she underwent "from a naïve graduate student trying to be a 'good girl,' to feminist activist with a dissertation on "Madness and Women: A Study of the Themes of Anger and Insanity in Modern Literature by Women."

"Try getting a job with that dissertation in 1976," says Wells.