The Pope and the pill: exploring the sexual experiences of Catholic women in post-war England

Geiringer, David (2016) The Pope and the pill: exploring the sexual experiences of Catholic women in post-war England. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the sexual experiences of Catholic women in post-war England. It uses original oral testimony from Catholic laypeople, alongside the internal documents and public pronouncements of the central Catholic hierarchy to reappraise dominant narratives of both sexual and religious change. Historians and cultural commentators have identified sex and its apparent liberation in the decades after the Second World War as the root cause of Christian decline. Catholicism in particular has been viewed as the archetypal antagonist in a story of sixties ‘sexual revolution’. This indictment tends to be based on the Catholic hierarchy’s continued prohibition of artificial contraception. My research examines Catholic women’s everyday experience of negotiating spiritual and sexual demands at a moment when the two increasingly seemed to be at odds with one another. I argue here that the relationship between sex and religion did undergo an unprecedented shift in the post-war decades, but one that does not fit comfortably within the existing frameworks employed by historians. Rather than being simply about an emancipation from the confines of religious repression, the break between sex and Catholicism worked along deeper, ontological lines. As such, the thesis advances an alternative conceptual framework within which to understand post-war cultural change, introducing the dialectics of immanence and transcendence to the historiography of the period

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations > BX0800 Catholic Church
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0019 Sexual behaviour and attitudes. Sexuality
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2016 09:34
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2022 10:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/61506

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