Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.


Cultural studies, Rhetoric, Women's studies, Feminist theory, Marxist theory, Popular culture, Essentialism


The Christian Right exerts considerable influence over female identity, especially through its members who have emerged as one of the most powerful voting blocks in the nation---the Christian Right woman. American Christian women, especially those considered to be on the political fringes, are virtually ignored in academic endeavors. Given their power, which defies their categorization as a "fringe" group, this academic silence is a gross oversight, especially in light of the rise of the Christian Right, which has successfully recruited millions of women to its service. This dissertation analyzes texts of Christian popular culture that contribute to the construction of feminine subjectivity---Tim LaHaye's Left Behind, selections from the most popular of Christian women's self-help books, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and various online materials available on the website of Concerned Women for America. The consumption of these texts acts as a means through whi

ch Christian Right women can support patriarchy through submission and affect their own personal transformations by reframing this submission in powerful terms. Most products aimed at and embraced by Christian women encourage a femininity that can be linked to Mary, the perfect mother of Christ. This Madonna paradigm and its accompanying subtext work with the aforementioned Christian texts to perpetuate an essentialized, yet contradictory portrayal of the feminine. The theory of subjectivity for Christian Right Women offered by this study utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to reveal these women's consciousness as a mixture of contradictions. These contradictions combine the ideologies of Christianity and capitalism, gender codes both archaic and contemporary, and the discourses of modernism and postmodernism into a force that simultaneously subjects these women and supports their personal agency. Ideas from Marxist and feminist thinkers---Louis Althusser, Valentin VolosÌ?inov,

Judith Butler, Frederic Jameson, Chela Sandoval, and others---contribute theoretical structure to the discussion, which culminates in an analysis of the identification Christian Right women have with the rhetoric of victimhood.