Marta Steinsvik: A Feminist Pioneer in the Church of Norway
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This thesis examines the work of Norwegian feminist, author, scholar, and lecturer, Marta Steinsvik (1876-1950). In a controversial career, Steinsvik achieved notoriety for her theological views and contributions with regards to a woman’s role in the church. In detailing Steinsvik’s activities, largely from her personal archival sources, this thesis suggests that Marta Steinsvik, the first woman to preach in a Christian church in Norway, played a vital role in paving the way for women to enter the priesthood. This project aims to revisit the story of a woman whose contributions to the debate surrounding women in the priesthood have been too sparsely researched, and do not adequately portray the multiple ways she influenced her society. Thus, an important part of this research elucidates her contributions to the debate regarding the role of women as priests. Despite her insatiable hunger for knowledge and her attempts at diverse careers such as medicine, theology, and Egyptology, Steinsvik never completed any of these studies. This point serves to corroborate her contribution even more when considering the importance society places on product vs process. It adds more credibility to the stimulus of her contributions, and, thus, situates her in a unique position of influence. My research will also seek to situate Marta Steinsvik in the society of her times as it relates to both national and international events within the feminist movement. A substantial space is dedicated to expounding on the changes in Norwegian society that came to be known as the golden age of change, and how these changes paralleled her life. The main focus of my thesis will be to properly situate her as a pioneer, prolific writer, agitator, and mouthpiece for the feminist movement in Norway, and, more importantly for the cause of women priests.