Choosing Community: Action, Faith, and Joy in the Works of Dorothy L. Sayers, By Christine A. Colón
Choosing Community
  • Length: 152 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: October 15, 2019
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5374
  • ISBN: 9780830853748

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Few writers in the twentieth century were as creative and productive as Dorothy L. Sayers, the English playwright, novelist, and poet. Her justly renowned works include detective fiction featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, theological reflections, literary criticism, and her translation of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Among the prominent themes of her work was the need for and challenges of developing community. Sayers, who was herself an active member of various writing groups throughout her lifetime, offers her readers visions of both fractured and harmonious communities.

In this Hansen Lectureship volume, Christine Colón explores the role of community in Sayers's works. In particular, she considers how Sayers offers a vision of communities called to action, faith, and joy, and she reflects on how we also are called to live in community together.

Based on the annual lecture series hosted at Wheaton College's Marion E. Wade Center, volumes in the Hansen Lectureship Series reflect on the imaginative work and lasting influence of seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.

"Christine Colón has written an original and thoroughly fascinating book on Dorothy L. Sayers and community. Sayers enthusiasts will appreciate her meticulous research, but even the general reader who doesn't know Sayers will learn something about how people can live together in harmony despite the traumas of this world."

Suzanne Bray, professor of English, Lille Catholic University

"This is a fascinating study by Dr. Colón using examples from Dorothy L. Sayers's fiction, drama, and theological writings to demonstrate her belief in action, faith, and joy in community. I commend it."

Alan F. Jesson, Dorothy L. Sayers Society Committee

"This book is itself a satisfying act of community: Colón and her commentators draw out and riff on the Sayersian themes of communal action, faith, and joy in a way that the reader can sense—and join—the original dynamic of live lecture and response. Colón makes illuminating connections between various works of Sayers, showing a firm grasp of the canon of Sayers's detective and dramatic writing, and makes a compelling case for the breadth and rightness to Sayers's thinking about community. Kriner, Mangin, and McGraw draw out the life and implications of this vision of community for their own disciplines of literary analysis, drama, and politics—the kind of discussions that Sayers herself would have relished. This book is a pleasing and meaty communal conversation with Sayers."

Kathryn Wehr, Sayers scholar, Anselm House, St. Paul, MN

"Christine Colón has provided an engaging argument for the importance of community in the astonishingly varied literary corpus of Dorothy L. Sayers. Colón's insightful tracking of this theme through Sayers's detective fiction, religious drama, theatrical associations, and epistolary friendships illuminates both the mind of this significant author and the importance of the community life that Sayers's life so remarkably exemplified. The book is an especially winsome account of an important author and a crucial theme in lives well lived."

Mark Noll, McAnaney Professor of History, emeritus, University of Notre Dame

"In this insightful and engaging book, Christine Colón reveals the importance of a Christian conception of community to the life and work of Dorothy L. Sayers: it is built into the very stonework of Sayers's plays and reverberates through the landscapes of her detective stories. Reading Colón's reflections on Sayers, we are reminded that this understanding of community is a rich and dynamic one, indeed—bound up with questions of vocation, the truth of doctrine, and the delights of friendship and camaraderie. Whether you are looking for a guide to Sayers's work or a thoughtful meditation on Christian life together, you will not be disappointed. Colón's scholarship sheds light on Sayers's writings while inviting us to reflect more deeply on our relationships with one another."

James E. Beitler III, associate professor of English, Wheaton College, author of Seasoned Speech: Rhetoric in the Life of the Church

"Colón wends her way through Sayers's detective novels and religious plays in the context of her life and times to help us see what Sayers wanted us to learn about community and the work that God has given each of us to do with joy for the health of our communities—especially the church. Sayers comes through as one who passionately grounded these insights in essential Christian doctrines, such as God's triune existence and the atonement, during times of war and societal decay. At a time when we seem to be sinking into tribalism in a contentious world, there are lessons to be gleaned from Sayers thanks to Colón's guidance. And this study might just prompt one to hurry to the bookshelf and read or reread a Sayers piece, seeing in it what otherwise would have been missed."

Dennis Okholm, professor of theology, Azusa Pacific University, author of Learning Theology Through the Church's Worship

"Christine A. Colón's new book about Dorothy L. Sayers enriches one's experience and appreciation of even very dear and familiar texts, provoking numerous, Why, of course! moments of illumination and affirming one's sense of home in the Sayers universe. A happy and stimulating combination of the scholarly and eminently readable, this book weaves in and out of Sayers's fiction and personal experience, not only convincingly demonstrating the important dimension of community in her novels and plays but also challenging one to think of the quality and the role of community in one's own life and work. It powerfully reminds us yet again of Sayers's lucid intellect, bold expression, and brilliant humor. Strong and thoughtful responses from a wider community of thinkers, each throwing professional light on various aspects of Dr. Colón's lectures, only strengthen the central thrust of the book and prove yet again the vital role of community in any truly human creative endeavor."

Olga B. Lukmanova, associate professor of English, N. A. Dobrolubov Linguistics University, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

"Professor Colón has given us a new way to appreciate Sayers's depth as a writer and opened ways for us to think about community that are sorely needed today. This is a great introduction to Sayers's writing and also an excellent book for readers who know and love Sayers as a detective novelist or as a religious writer. It brings these dimensions of Sayers's work together and shows the breadth and depth of Sayers's insight into Christianity and community."

Christine Fletcher, associate professor of theology, Benedictine University

"Choosing Community brings together four different voices in a dynamic polyphony. The interactive structure of the text constitutes a diversity in unity reflective of the social harmony admired by Dorothy Sayers. What results is a fresh approach to this brilliant woman writer who wrote on the margins of the Inklings and regaled C. S. Lewis with Austen-inspired tales of her poultry. The book is full of interesting facts from Sayers's historical context and is a delight from beginning to end. The writers model an intelligent civility much needed in today's cultural discourse."

Natasha Duquette, author of Veiled Intent, professor and chair, English department, Tyndale University College


Introduction: Walter Hansen
1. Dorothy L. Sayers's Vision for Communities of Action
Response: Tiffany Eberle Kriner
2. Dorothy L. Sayers's Vision for Communities of Faith
Response: Andy Mangin
3. Dorothy L. Sayers's Vision for Communities of Joy
Response: Bryan T. McGraw
Author Index
Subject Index


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Christine A. Colón

Christine A. Colón (PhD, University of California at Davis) is professor of English at Wheaton College. She is the author of Joanna Baillie and the Art of Moral Influence and Writing for the Masses: Dorothy L. Sayers and the Victorian Literary Tradition. She is also the coauthor of Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today's Church.