Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England / Edition 1

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Overview

Throughout most of the eighteenth century and particularly during the religious revivals of the Great Awakening, evangelical women in colonial New England participated vigorously in major church decisions, from electing pastors to disciplining backsliding members. After the Revolutionary War, however, women were excluded from political life, not only in their churches but in the new republic as well. Reconstructing the history of this change, Susan Juster shows how a common view of masculinity and femininity shaped both radical religion and revolutionary politics in America. Juster compares contemporary accounts of Baptist women and men who voice their conversion experiences, theological opinions, and preoccupation with personal conflicts and pastoral controversies. At times, the ardent revivalist message of spiritual individualism appeared to sanction sexual anarchy. According to one contemporary, the revival attempted "to make all things common, wives as well as goods." The place of women at the center of evangelical life in the mid-eighteenth century, Juster finds, reflected the extent to which evangelical religion itself was perceived as "feminine" - emotional, sensual, and ultimately marginal.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Juster examines the changing role of Baptist women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England. At first essentially equal to men in church governance and in the right to speak in church, women were gradually excluded from power in Baptist churches after the Revolution. As the Baptist church adopted a more patriarchal model of church organization, women were not only marginalized and silenced but associated because of gender with several serious sins, including sexual misconduct, lying, and slander."—Library Journal

"Susan Juster's valuable book traces the emergence and collapse of gender equality among New England Baptists from the mid-eighteenth century Great Awakening into the Age of Revolution. It also recounts evangelical women's brave but ill-fated attempts to preserve hard-won freedoms as the Brethren moved to portray them . . . as untrustworthy, irrational sinners to be feared and controlled by men. . . . A dazzling analysis of the operations of gender within evangelical religious experiences."—Women's Review of Books

"Cogently argued and wonderfully written, Disorderly Women is an insightful and inspiring work on gender and religion in Revolutionary New England."—William and Mary Quarterly

"A groundbreaking book that should appeal to both popular and scholarly audiences. Because Juster is such a clear and forceful writer, her book is a pleasure to read."—Christian Century

"One of the most significant books about the early republic to appear in recent years. Juster challenges us to understand the American Revolution not only as a crisis between England and the colonies, King and people, and among men of different political persuasions, but also between men and women. Evangelical women who had once been understood as speaking truth to power were redefined as unstable, irresponsible, and disorderly."—Linda K. Kerber, author of Women of the Republic

Library Journal
Juster history, Univ. of Michigan examines the changing role of Baptist women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England. At first essentially equal to men in church governance and in the right to speak in church, women were gradually excluded from power in Baptist churches after the Revolution. As the Baptist church adopted a more patriarchal model of church organization, women were not only marginalized and silenced but associated because of gender with several serious sins, including sexual misconduct, lying, and slander. For an earlier, more general discussion of Baptists in New England, see William G. McLoughlin's New England Dissent 1630-1833: The Baptists and the Separation of Church and State 1971 and Soul Liberty: The Baptists' Struggle in New England, 1630-1833 Univ. Pr. of New England, 1991. Appropriate for academic libraries and collections in women's studies and history of religion.-Patricia A. Beaber, Trenton State Coll. Lib., N.J.
Booknews
Juster (history, U. of Michigan) shows how a common view of femininity and masculinity shaped both radical religion and revolutionary politics in America. She traces the evolution of the evangelical Baptist church from the 18th century when women were at the center of religious life, to the 1760s and beyond, when the Baptist order began to feminize the concept of sin. Juster argues that an image of a patriarchy threatened by female power was a central motif in the wider political culture during the democratic revolutions. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801483882
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,485,814
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: "A Sperit in de Body" 1
Pt. I Prophetic Voices in Protestant America
1 To Slay the Beast: Visionary Women in the Early Republic 19
2 "Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands Unto God": Laura Kofey and the Gendered Vision of Redemption in the Garvey Movement 38
Pt. II Ministers and Laity: Sexual Politics in the Protestant Church
3 Resurrecting Man: Desire and The Damnation of Theron Ware 65
4 Ministerial Misdeeds: The Onderdonk Trial and Sexual Harassment in the 1840s 81
5 "The Women Have Had Charge of the Church Work Long Enough": The Men and Religion Forward Movement of 1911-1912 and the Masculinization of Middle-Class Protestantism 107
6 "Theirs the Sweetest Songs": Women Hymn Writers in the Nineteenth-Century United States 141
Pt. III Black and White in the Spiritual Borderlands
7 The Uses of the Supernatural: Toward a History of Black Women's Magical Practices 171
8 "It's a Spirit in Me": Spiritual Power and the Healing Work of African American Women in Slavery 189
9 Reading, Writing, and the Race of Mother Figures: Shakers Rebecca Cox Jackson and Alonzo Giles Hollister 210
10 "When We Were No People, Then We Were a People": Evangelical Language and the Free Black of Philadelphia in the Early Republic 235
11 The Governing Spirit: African American Writers in the Antebellum City on a Hill 259
Notes on Contributors 280
Index 283
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