Laura Barney’s Discipleship to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tracing a Theological Flow from the Middle East to the United States, 1900–1916

Journal of Bahá’í Studies, vol. 28, no. 1–2, 2018, pp. 7–31.

Abstract: The discipleship of the young American Laura Clifford Barney to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the early 1900s resulted in a flow of spiritual teachings from East to West. After several years of intense engagement with her teacher in Palestine, Barney sought to disseminate in her Western homelands what she had learned. Her private and public writings demonstrate how she employed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teachings in her efforts to influence social discourse by promoting the Bahá’í Faith in Europe and the United States. Examining these teachings and Barney’s applications thereof in her rhetoric allows us to witness how a transnational channel of theological knowledge developed.

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Women Inspiring Women in Baha’i History: Tahirih’s Lineage

Collage of sixteen Bahá'í women
Some prominent Baha’i women (Image source)

On March 8th, we celebrate “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” and acknowledge the urgency of “accelerating gender parity.”1 As much as International Women’s Day is a celebration, it is also a monument to centuries of discrimination.

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Sara Louisa Blomfield’s stories from a granddaughter of Baha’u’llah

Interior courtyard of the House of Abbud
Interior courtyard of the House of Abbud. (Photo by the author)

In the years between the World Wars, Tuba Khanum shared with Sara Louisa Blomfield recollections of her grandfather Baha’u’llah, grandmother Asiyih Khanum (Navvab), father Abdu’l-Baha, and older sister Diya’iyyih (mother of Shoghi Effendi, who became Guardian of the Baha’i Faith).

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Abdu’l-Baha’s Prayer for a Women’s College

Bahá'ís and friends gathered in an interfaith chapel
At the 2017 celebration, Vida Rastegar, Mia Taylor Chandler, and Eugenio Marcano read passages from a talk by Abdu’l-Baha. Credit: Ruijia (Rose) Wang

When Charlotte D’Evelyn stepped onto the bucolic campus of Mount Holyoke College in 1917, she was surely elated to join the faculty of the oldest institution for women’s higher education in the US. Looking around, maybe the hills of South Hadley, Massachusetts, reminded her of the steeper slopes of her hometown, San Francisco; perhaps the turrets of the Williston Memorial Library recalled the spires of buildings like the Bodleian at Oxford, where she had recently studied.

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Review of “Constitutive Visions”

Cover of Constitutive Visions courtesy of Penn State Press

Constitutive Visions: Indigeneity and Commonplaces of National Identity in Republican Ecuador (Review), Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 103, no. 1-2, 2017, pp. 186-190.

Christa J. Olson’s first book provides a model for rhetoricians who, like her, wish to transcend disciplinary divisions and the geographic scope of their homelands to study the rhetorics of other lands through an array of artifacts. In Constitutive Visions, Olson ambitiously intervenes in two significant projects: first, to “demonstrate the powerful roles played by resilient commonplaces in the constitution of national identity,” and second, to “emphasize the particular force that elements of visual culture lend to the constitutions of strong identifications” (24). That is, she exposes the processes through which rhetors compose a national identity for their country.

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