- Edited by Mary McCartin Wearn, Middle Georgia State College, USA
Nineteenth-century American women’s culture was immersed in religious experience and female authors of the era employed representations of faith to various cultural ends. Focusing primarily on non-canonical texts, this collection explores the diversity of religious discourse in nineteenth-century women’s literature. The contributors examine fiction, political writings, poetry, and memoirs by professional authors, social activists, and women of faith, including Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Louisa May Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis, Harriet E. Wilson, Sarah Piatt, Julia Ward Howe, Julia A. J. Foote, Lucy Mack Smith, Rebecca Cox Jackson, and Fanny Newell. Embracing the complexities of lived religion in women’s culture-both its repressive and its revolutionary potential-Nineteenth-Century American Women Write Religion articulates how American women writers adopted the language of religious sentiment for their own cultural, political, or spiritual ends.
Contents: Introduction, Mary McCartin Wearn; Renegade religious: performativity, female identity, and the antebellum convent-escape narrative, Nancy F. Sweet; Shaping narrative: Julia A.J. Foote’s theology of holiness, Joy A.J. Howard; Composing radical lives: women as autonomous religious seekers in 19th-century memoirs, Rachel Cope; ‘Come right down with me’: poverty, agency and incarnational reading in the work of Rebecca Harding Davis, Benjamin G. Sammons; Religious popular culture and the critique of Romantic racialism in Harriet E. Wilson’s Our Nig, Randi Lynn Tanglen; ‘One [hermaphroditic] angel’: Swedenborg, gender complementarity, and divine love in Julia Ward Howe’s The Hermaphrodite, Karlyn Crowley; ‘The Grace of God assisting’: abolitionist women and the politics of religion, Valerie D. Levy;‘A religion of their own’: Louisa May Alcott’s New American religion, Gregory Eiselein; ‘A startling reform’: women and Christianity in the work of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Roxanne Harde; The Puritan roots of Sarah Piatt’s feminist materialism, Mary McCartin Wearn; Works cited; Index.
About the Editor: Mary McCartin Wearn is Associate Professor of English and Assistant Vice President of Academic Planning and Policy at Middle Georgia State College.
Reviews: '...makes a welcome contribution to the growing scholarly interest in women’s religious attitudes and experiences in nineteenth-century America.'
Nan Goodman, University of Colorado, Boulder
'This is a series of carefully thought out essays exploring women's personal spiritual authority and involvement in "religious conversations." … Readers researching women's history and spirituality, American studies and religious studies will be interested. Footnotes, bibliography and index provided.'
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