Call for Papers: With Friends Like These: Critical Engagements with the Release of Rachel Held Evans’s Year of Biblical Womanhood

This looks fun – I already know what I would present on… the fact that LifeWay wouldn’t carry her book because of a certain word used and they carry the bible…

Rachel Held Evans’s Year of Biblical Womanhood (Thomas Nelson, 2012) was released to storm of controversy and media attention. She has garnered reviews and critiques in a wide range of publications, from Christianity Today to First Things to Slate, been denounced by Mark Driscoll and other “Young Reformer” evangelicals, and even refused space on the shelves of Christian retailer Lifeway. Citing alleged discomfort with mention of female genitalia in the book, some even described this last episode as “Vaginagate.” The turbulent response is indicative of the multiple identities Held Evans has dared to negotiate: evangelical, skeptic, progressive, feminist, and more. At another level, the criticism and support alike signal complexity and contradiction in how—and by whom—women’s bodies are discussed and defended.

This call for papers welcomes exploration of the implications of this book and its reception from a number of disciplinary perspectives. What do the controversy and Held Evans’s commercial success say about the commodification of religious identity? What do they say about the boundaries of women’s bodies? How are masculinist assumptions at work even in those who have sprung to Held Evans’s defense? How are we to theorize the online outpouring of support and critique through social media? Critical engagements from a variety of disciplines and perspectives—feminist theory, literature, theology, history, cultural studies, social media and internet studies, popular culture, humor studies—are invited to place Rachel Held Evans’s book in its various discursive contexts. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to by January 31. Three proposals will be chosen and presenters notified by February 14.

#CFP: With Friends Like These: Critical Engagements with the Release of Rachel Held Evans’s Year of Biblical Womanhood.

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


  1. David

    I love how this serious cfp uses the word vaginagate. Not often seen in religion paper calls. Oh and you should so submit about vaginagate.


  2. The Mainline and other ‘organized’ churches has long been an incubator for the postmodern. Her post-Counterculture message is death. I read her weblog; it is neurotic.

    Rational patriarchy in Christ.


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