In Religious Experience and the New Woman, Joanna Dean traces the development of liberal spirituality in the early 20th century through the life and work of Lily Dougall (1858-1923), a New Woman novelist who became known as a religious essayist and Anglican modernist. Dean examines the connections between Dougall's marginal position as a woman intellectual and her experiential, combatively iconoclastic theology, and demonstrates that through her writing and mentoring, Dougall contributed to the shaping of modern spirituality.
Lily Dougall described religious experience-the sense of the presence of God-as the "rock" of her theology. Dean observes the protean nature of this rock as Dougall moved from a submissive holiness faith, to a mystical Mauricean sense of the Kingdom of God, to the relational theology of personal idealism, and reveals how psychology, which appeared to provide scientific support for her religious beliefs, eventually threatened to undermine her experiential faith.
Joanna Dean is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, and teaches women's and gender history. She is co-author of Guide to Women's Archives/Guides des Archives sur les Femmes.