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Title:Gendering the Pulpit: Religious Discourse and the African -American Female Experience
Author(s):Andujo, Patricia Lynn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Emily Watts
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:During the late eighteenth century, the African-American church, in keeping with the Methodist tradition, developed a patriarchal structure that limited the leadership roles of women. African-American women found themselves silenced and placed in subordinate roles during the developing phases of the African-American church, yet they found a "formula" for using what appeared to be an oppressive institution as the foundation and strength of their lives and community. Gendering the Pulpit: Religious Discourse and the African-American Female Experience traces the entry of African-American women into the practice of preaching, focusing on Jarena Lee (1783--185?), Julia Foote (1823--1901), Maria Stewart (1803--1879), and Sojourner Truth (1797--1883). Their entrance took place first by self-proclaimed authority through God's ordination, then through written discourse (spiritual autobiography) that permitted them to engage in dialogue about the debate over gender and religion. It is my contention that these women's interpretive strategies and pulpit rhetoric contributed to a discourse that promoted freedom---for women, and for African-Americans. They responded to a cultural moment in which the reins on interpretation of the Scripture loosened a bit, and allowed a change in what could be said and done by preachers. Their pioneering efforts opened the doors for other African-American women to challenge conventional theories of religion and spirituality. Secondly, this study traces the continued pattern of African-American women renegotiating religious discourse. Twentieth century writers, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker, continued the legacy, in their fiction, of reshaping and expanding the boundaries of religious discourse for African-American women as their position in American culture changed. They can be considered the literary daughters of Lee, Foote, Stewart, and Truth since they work within the same rhetorical framework of self-empowerment.
Issue Date:2002
Description:167 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3069969
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2002

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