Chapter

Feverish Restlessness and Mighty Movement

Elizabeth Elkin Grammer

in Some Wild Visions

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195139617
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834242 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195139615.003.0003

Series: Religion in America

Feverish Restlessness and Mighty Movement

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The seven female itinerant preachers in this study made good literary use of nineteenth‐century American culture's idealization of productivity and competitive individualism, and its belief in quantification as a reliable measure of success. They present themselves in their autobiographies as fantastically productive—and extraordinarily successful—spiritual capitalists, minimizing the details of their conversion experiences to make room in their books, as did many Protestant evangelists, for their work. These “female strangers” write “masculine” stories of productivity and competitive individualism in part because they participated in—as did Protestantism, evangelicalism, and revivalism generally—an increasingly commercial world in which religion had to sell itself to consumers. They did so also as part of their campaign to understand, define, and advertise themselves (and female preaching itself) in a marketplace in which they faced considerable opposition. They resort to quantification (of miles traveled, hours worked, and converts gained) to measure, almost literally, the unorthodox life.

Keywords: individualism; conversion; converts; Protestantism; capitalists; autobiographies; evangelicalism; female itinerant preachers; productivity; marketplace

Chapter.  14829 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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