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Title:Imagined Communions: One Woman's Spiritual Journey
Author(s):Rohan, Elizabeth Ellen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hawisher, Gail E.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:This is a historical case study of the literate practices of one woman, Janette Miller, (1879--1969), a librarian, missionary, preacher, writer and teacher. It analyzes the epistemological connections between evangelical Christianity and Miller's literacy practices, connections acknowledged by a significant population of middle class women like Miller in nineteenth and turn-of-the-century America who created and shaped some of America's first service institutions. It considers the role of emotion key to Miller's literate practices and the significance of the researcher's emotional attachment to Janette Miller as a subject---symbolized by the researcher and subject's shared literacy practices as teenage-turned-women diarists. This study analyzes Miller's scrapbook and her diary, composed from approximately 1894 through 1909, and Miller's missionary texts which she wrote when a missionary to Angola from 1910 to 1969. The study ends with an analysis of the texts Miller wrote when she was working under institutional regimes opposed to her particular beliefs and pedagogical goals as a Christian and a teacher, the Portuguese colonial regime in twentieth-century Angola. It theorizes the contribution of the female turn-of-the-century missionary movement to literacy programs and to the cooperation among individuals across national lines. Imagined communions, an extension as well as a critique of Benedict Anderson's (1991) concept of imagined communities, deliberately connotes Christian religious gatherings as well as the intimacy or rapport among and between writers and readers facilitated by the circulation of print materials, but also through other materials that signified communions among nineteenth century and turn-of-the-century women like Miller: fabric pieces, drawings and photographs. This imagined communion is spiritual because it is imagined, articulated by print or multi-media rather than through physical human interaction. The concept of imagined communions is applied to Miller's textual methods when the researcher considers the links between the past and present that Miller's writing inspires, Miller's use of multi-media and also when the researcher theorizes the spiritual communion she imagines between herself and Miller as "fellow" diarists when considering the ethics of representing historical subjects. This study includes many illustrations from Miller's texts and those taken by the researcher when documenting the research process.
Issue Date:2002
Description:265 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3070423
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2002

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