About the Theology and Dieting: Feminist Explorations course
Feminists have long since challenged that the female slim ideal works cleverly to prevent women from taking up too much space. Seen as a backlash against women’s power, dieting has been seen as a ‘skewed reaction to women’s desires to be regarded seriously’ (Susie Orbach, Fat is a Feminist Issue).
But what exactly is the relationship between Christian theology and contemporary secular commercial dieting culture? How are we to think theologically about fat and slimming and how are we to theologically evaluate the seeming gendered politics of the thin ideal?
We will consider how fatness is evaluated in Western culture, drawing on feminist scholarship and on examples from the media and from ordinary experience. We will explore some biblical and theological assessments of corpulence and consider the ambiguous ways in which fatness is rendered in theological traditions. We will critically appraise these traditions, engaging them with feminist voices but also with the real-life experiences of dieting women. Students will be encouraged to explore together whether and how we might construct theological assessments of fat that can challenge secular assumptions and contemplate the practical role of theology in healing contemporary body phobias.
“I am so looking forward to this course. Professor Bacon’s extensive work on the subject has been, and continues to be, a great resource for my own research. It is both challenging and informative. This will be a ‘must attend’ event for all those who want to think a little deeper about the ways in which diet culture shows itself regularly in both theology, and the church.”
Sarah Pritchard, MA in Christian Spirituality student
About the Tutor
Hannah Bacon is Professor of Feminist Theology at the University of Chester, UK. She is interested in the interface between Christian theologies of embodiment and contemporary cultural discourses about fat and weight.
Her recent book, Feminist Theology and Contemporary Dieting Culture: Sin, Salvation and Women’s Weight Loss Narratives (T & T Clark/Bloomsbury, 2019) draws on qualitative research inside a UK secular commercial dieting group and offers alternative accounts of sin and salvation that have the capacity to resist rather than reproduce sizeist norms. She is also author of What’s Right with the Trinity (Ashgate/Routledge, 2009) and co-editor (with W. Dossett and S. Knowles) of Alternative Salvations: Engaging the Sacred and the Secular (Bloomsbury, 2015) and (with W. Morris and S. Knowles) of Transforming Exclusion: Engaging Faith Perspectives (T & T Clark, 2011).
Hannah will guide students to engage with feminist scholarship and with theological traditions, her experience of conducting research inside a secular commercial slimming group and encouraging students to draw on their own faith lives and ordinary experiences.