On Second Thought


Learned Women Reflect on Profession, Community, and Purpose

In these dynamic essays, thirteen wise women review their lives for meaning and purpose, striving to integrate both head and heart. They consider how their spiritual paradigms have shaped their vocations as teachers, scholars, guides, mentors, and advocates and how these roles have been integral to their life’s work, not merely to their work life. With courageous and insightful testimonies they narrate the intersecting relationships of work, family, students, patients, and colleagues, weaving them together rather than compartmentalizing them. Challenges inside and outside the academy and other professional settings are revealed, to tell of suffering and transformation, to tally hard-earned life lessons and to share wisdom achieved. 

Lives and words are gathered and generously shared, allowing these women to make sense of their own lives while mentoring a wider circle of younger and older readers alike. These “travel tales” of journeys through knowledge and self-knowledge will inform, challenge, surprise, entertain, and inspire. 

In these dynamic essays, thirteen wise women review their lives for meaning and purpose, striving to integrate both head and heart. They consider how their spiritual paradigms have shaped their vocations as teachers, scholars, guides, mentors, and advocates and how these roles have been integral to their life’s work, not merely to their work life. With courageous and insightful testimonies they narrate the intersecting relationships of work, family, students, patients, and colleagues, weaving them together rather than compartmentalizing them. Challenges inside and outside the academy and other professional settings are revealed, to tell of suffering and transformation, to tally hard-earned life lessons and to share wisdom achieved. 

Lives and words are gathered and generously shared, allowing these women to make sense of their own lives while mentoring a wider circle of younger and older readers alike. These “travel tales” of journeys through knowledge and self-knowledge will inform, challenge, surprise, entertain, and inspire. 


Luisa Del Giudice, Ph.D., has taught at UCLA, was founder-director of the Italian Oral History Institute. In 2008 she was named honorary fellow of the American Folklore Society and Cavaliere (knight) of the Republic of Italy. 


Praise and Reviews:

“These women bring both experience and an ability to see the overarching picture as they examine the paths that have led to their current positions. Not since Mary Catherine Bateson’s Composing a Life have I seen something similar.”
—Kerry Noonan, Associate Professor, Core Division, Champlain College 


“Very well written and engaging. Reading this collection was an enriching and significant experience. These are women who don’t mess around!”
—Cristina Bacchilega, author of Fairy Tales Transformed?: 21st-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder 


"This book is a visionary collection of essays examining the cultural and spiritual wellsprings that have sustained the contributors’ scholarship and shaped their purpose as women of learning."
—Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant, author of Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman