Ensoulment is a collection of interviews written by Lorís Simon Salum, exploring feminism, its meaning, and the way it is interpreted – not only by experts, psychologists, scientists, theologians, and philosophers, but also professionally and culturally in the Western world. What begins as a way to wrap up a film project–the author describes the end of her film project as a type of postnatal depression–ends up being a journey of self-discovery.
Ensoulment offers a wide range of perspectives, from the religious to the atheist, from men and women alike, from straight and gay, from gender nonconforming and those who readily embrace what they define as their own femininity or masculinity. All are tasked first with trying to define the feminine, and from there, exploring the questions presented, which range from: how can it be given more power? to is it well represented? Each interviewee brings with him or herself a new and interesting perspective, and the author has done a great job of arranging the interviews so that the book doesn’t drag and has what feels like a natural flow.
There’s a timeliness to this topic; while the project began several years ago, it’s still very relevant, and anyone reading it now will appreciate the modern references offered by the people being interviewed. Additionally, the footnotes and bibliography will provide insight and references for those mentions that aren’t readily known. This project has been researched and thought out with great depth and detail.
As a reader, I particularly appreciated not only the professional introduction to each participant but the additional, more personal, paragraph the author included that gave insight about her choice for interviewing each person. While undoubtedly qualified in some way to speak professionally on the topic of the feminine, there was a sense that each participant was personally relevant to the author or had touched her life in a meaningful way, and this made the project feel much more personal and real.