Redeeming the Southern Family: Evangelical Women and Domestic Devotion in the Antebellum Southby Scott Stephan
Pub. Date: 11/15/2008
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
In the years leading up to the Civil War, southern evangelical denominations moved from the fringes to the mainstream of the American South. Scott Stephan argues that female Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians played a crucial role in this transformation. While other scholars have pursued studies of southern evangelicalism in the context of churches,
In the years leading up to the Civil War, southern evangelical denominations moved from the fringes to the mainstream of the American South. Scott Stephan argues that female Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians played a crucial role in this transformation. While other scholars have pursued studies of southern evangelicalism in the context of churches, meetinghouses, and revivals, Stephan looks at the domestic rituals over which southern women had increasing authority-from consecrating newborns to God's care to ushering dying kin through life's final stages. Laymen and clergymen alike celebrated the contributions of these pious women to the experience and expansion of evangelicalism across the South.
This acknowledged domestic authority allowed some women to take on more public roles in the conversion and education of southern youth within churches and academies, although always in the name of family and always cloaked in the language of Christian self-abnegation. At the same time, however, women's work in the name of domestic devotion often put them at odds with slaves, children, or husbands in their households who failed to meet their religious expectations and thereby jeopardized evangelical hopes of heavenly reunification of the family.
Stephan uses the journals and correspondence of evangelical women from across the South to understand the interconnectedness of women's personal, family, and public piety. Rather than seeing evangelical women as entirely oppressed or resigned to the limits of their position in a patriarchal slave society, Stephan seeks to capture a sense of what agency was available to women through their moral authority.
- University of Georgia Press
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- New Edition
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Table of Contents
Introduction. From Cane Ridge to the Bible Belt: Evangelicalism, Gender, and the Southern Household in the Antebellum Era
Chapter 1. Taming the Second Great Awakening: Evangelical Identity and Worship Patterns in the Antebellum South
Chapter 2. Courting Women, Courting God: Strenuous Courtships and Holy Unions
Chapter 3. Improvising on the Ideal: Evangelical Marriages in the Antebellum South
Chapter 4. "Unto Whom Much Is Given": Childbirth, Child Rearing, and Coming of Age in the Evangelical Home
Chapter 5. Authoring the Good Death: Illness, Deathbed Narratives, and Women's Authority
Epilogue. "We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight": Evangelicals and the Civil War-Era South
Appendix. Principal Families
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