Elizabeth Elkin Grammer

in Some Wild Visions

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195139617
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834242 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America


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Each of these spiritual autobiographers looks to her audience as she constructs herself in language, just as she had looked to her listeners in her effort to spread the good news of the gospel. She draws upon the popular languages of her day—domesticity, competitive individualism, evangelicalism and biblical typology—in her effort to explain a “female stranger” to her culture. In doing so she worked, consciously or not, to alter traditional gender expectations, to reconstruct forms of womanhood for her nineteenth‐century readers, to create a place for the female itinerant preachers who might follow in her footsteps. She also reveals, if only between the lines, a certain anxiety, as if she suspected that hers was an impossible project, that cutting and pasting a textual identity with words and images would only partially describe a “stranger” to her culture. Thus, these autobiographers inevitably depend upon their readers—converts?—to help create the interpretive community in which their story would someday make sense.

Keywords: spiritual autobiographers; female itinerant preachers; audience; gender; womanhood; nineteenth‐century readers; biblical typology; female stranger; evangelicalism; gospel

Chapter.  5638 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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