Karen Swallow Prior On Reading Well (& Why Virtue is Tricky for Women)

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Today on the Betwixt Podcast, Dr. Karen Swallow Prior talks about her newest book On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Literature. Her book walks readers through twelves literary works that show us how to live virtuously.

Literature is like a boxing ring where we can try out and test ideas.” - @KSPrior Click To Tweet

We also discuss the virtue (or vice) of angry reading, Prior’s combat boots and why virtue is so tricky for women.

“The latin root word for virtue is the same root word for man. So virtue literally meant manliness.”

Historically, women have not been expected to be virtuous – with the exception of the 19th century ideal of chastity.

When it comes to women’s issues, Prior notices a binary trap. You’re either conservative or progressive. Or you are either egalitarian or complementarian.

“It’s a binary based on opposition, conflict, disagreement and denouncement.”

What it might look like for women to defy labels and come together in unity, support and affirmation?

There are injustices that we are still carrying forward into our country based on our past. Some people say that correcting it would be an injustice. But I’m showing, as I think Dickens was also showing, that failing to address it also results in injustice.

Karen Swallow Prior is Professor of English at Liberty University. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, and her latest book On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Literature. She lives in Virginia with her husband Roy and sundry horses, dogs and chickens.

Special Bonus

Mandy Smith joins the conversation to talk about a powerful moment at the Women’s Luncheon during the Missio Alliance Awakenings Gathering. Through that story, we explore how God is calling women to live and lead virtuously for the sake of the Church and the world.

Listen to the Bonus Behind the Scenes conversation with Mandy here.


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