Christina Rossetti

Poetry, Ecology, Faith

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Emma Mason
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , August
     240 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Eric Bontempo forthcoming.


Christina Rossetti (1830-94) is regarded as one of the greatest Christian poets to write in English. While Rossetti has firmly secured her place in the canon, her religious poetry was for a long time either overlooked or considered evidence of a melancholic disposition burdened by faith. Recent scholarship has redressed reductive readings of Christian theology as repressive by rethinking it as a form of compassionate politics. This shift has enabled new readings of Rossetti's work, not simply as a body of significant nineteenth-century devotional literature, but also as a marker of religion's relevance to modern concerns through its reflections on science and materialism, as well as spirituality and mysticism.

Emma Mason offers a compelling study of Christina Rossetti, arguing that her poetry, diaries, letters, and devotional commentaries are engaged with both contemporary theological debate and an emergent ecological agenda. In chapters on the Catholic Revival, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, contemporary debates on plant and animal being, and the relationship between grace and apocalypse, Mason reads Rossetti's theology as an argument for spiritual materialism and ecological transformation. She ultimately suggests that Rossetti's life and work captures the experience of faith as one of loving intimacy with the minutiae of creation, a divine body in which all things, material and immaterial, human and nonhuman, divine and embodied, are interconnected.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Emma Mason is Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. Her research focuses on poetry and poetics 1750-present, religion and literature, philosophy and literature, ecology, and affect theory. She is the co-author of Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature: An Introduction (with Mark Knight; OUP, 2006) and Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (Northcote House Publishers Ltd, 2004). Mason edits the Bloomsbury monograph series New Directions in Religion and Literature; and co-edits the Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (with Neil Badmington; OUP).

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments