Tag Archives: Women

InvenCaP Blog – Forgotten Voices from the Lothbury Square Church Book: Baptist Wives and their Jewish Christian Husbands

By Mark Burden

In a previous blog, ‘Sabbatarianism, Literary Form, and the Lothbury Square Church Book’, I explored various misconceptions which have arisen from historians’ interpretations of the so-called More-Chamberlen church book of 1652-4 (Bodleian Library Rawlinson MS D.828). Critical readings of the church book have been greatly indebted to the early twentieth-century debate between J. W. Thirtle and Champlin Burrage about the extent to which it provided evidence for the Sabbatarian beliefs of the congregation’s most distinguished member, the Royal physician Peter Chamberlen. Through his abridged edition of the church book, Burrage determined that the church was not Sabbatarian in its practices, and proceeded to transcribe those church acts which seemed to him to provide the most important reasons why the congregation collapsed. Burrage attributed the congregation’s demise to the ongoing doctrinal disputes between Chamberlen and his ministerial rival, John More, but failed to transcribe More’s correspondence with the church over the crucial questions of prophecy and parable. Yet these very questions of literary form and their use helped to tip the balance in the congregation’s dealings with More, ensuring that he was unable to return to the church, and thereby accelerating its decline. Here, as elsewhere, questions of genre and language proved decisive when it came to ordering, regulating, and disciplining Puritan church members.

However, this is very far from the whole story. Burrage assumed that the fortunes of the Lothbury Square church could be most easily surveyed through the prism of the debates between its two successive pastors, More and Chamberlen. His approach, while typical of church histories written in the early twentieth century, is no longer satisfactory, not least because it fails to take account of the crucial roles played by other members of the congregation. For one thing, Burrage’s reading conforms to the nineteenth and twentieth century assumption that women’s roles in early Baptist churches were at best peripheral to the central business of the church and at worst inconsequential. These are particularly dangerous assumptions for editors of dissenting records, since the omission of women’s writings from an edition on account of their marginal status becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for future readers. Through the process of rehabilitating these texts by and about women in the so-called More-Chamberlen church book we can develop a much more interesting narrative than the clumsy (on both sides) arguments that women were either central or peripheral to seventeenth-century Baptist churches; instead, what becomes clear is that churches were sites of struggle for women quite literally desiring their voices to be heard.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – Forgotten Voices from the Lothbury Square Church Book: Baptist Wives and their Jewish Christian Husbands

New Critical Studies on Quaker Women: 1650-1800

New Critical Studies on Quaker Women: 1650-1800

The corpus of Quaker women’s history and literature offers one of the most fascinating studies of gender across all centuries and continents. This small group of women pioneers, activists, prophets and writers has often been at the grassroots of revolutionary movements, fuelling and propelling the way for global, monumental change. Yet, there is very little in Quaker historiography that specifically highlights or features the gathered influence of these women. While only a few scholars have analysed early Quaker women’s contributions as spiritual foremothers and visionary leaders (Christine Trevett’s Women and Quakerism, 1991; Phyllis Mack’s Visionary Women, 1992; Rebecca Larson’s Daughters of Light, 1999; and Catie Gill’s Women in the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Community, 2005), there has not been a twenty-first-century compilation of new critical studies on Quaker women. With a central focus on gender, this project seeks to assemble an interdisciplinary body of writers with a shared interest in reassessing early Quaker women, highlighting new discoveries and interpretations about their literary creation, historical landmarks, and transatlantic movements.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Women and the origins of Quakerism (the influence of the earliest women Friends)
  • Feminization of early Quaker religious practices
  • Women’s socio-political positions within Quaker theology and culture
  • Women’s Meetings (as a site of power, autonomy, change)
  • Women and Quaker print culture (vs. the censorship of Second Day Morning Meeting)
  • Manuscript Culture
  • The limited placement of women in early Quaker historiography
  • Women on the margins of QuakerismWomen and the slave trade
  • Martyrology and gender
  • Women and Language
  • Women and Prophetic Performance
  • Religio-political writings by womenAutobiography and “convincement”
  • Dissent and identity studies
  • Women, leadership, and networking
  • Lesser known Quaker women (e.g. Elizabeth Hooten, Martha Simmonds, Mary Fisher, etc.)
  • Women Friends’ influence on other religious sects and communities

Please submit proposals of approximately 500 words, along with a curriculum vita, to: Michele Lise Tarter (tarter@tcnj.edu) and Catie Gill (C.J.Gill@lboro.ac.uk) by October 25, 2015. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

To download a pdf, please click here.

 

 

Baptist Women

Rachel Adcock has just published her monograph, Baptist Women’s Writings in Revolutionary Culture, 1640-1680 (Ashgate, 2015, 232p, ISBN 978-1-4724-5706-6).

‘Although literary-historical studies have often focused on the range of dissenting religious groups and writers that flourished during the English Revolution, they have rarely had much to say about seventeenth-century Baptists, or, indeed, Baptist women. Baptist Women’s Writings in Revolutionary Culture, 1640-1680 fills that gap, exploring how female Baptists played a crucial role in the group’s formation and growth during the 1640s and 50s, by their active participation in religious and political debate, and their desire to evangelise their followers.

Adcock coverThe study significantly challenges the idea that women, as members of these congregations, were unable to write with any kind of textual authority because they were often prevented from speaking aloud in church meetings. On the contrary, Adcock shows that Baptist women found their way into print to debate points of church organisation and doctrine, to defend themselves and their congregations, to evangelise others by example and by teaching, and to prophesy, and discusses the rhetorical tactics they utilised in order to demonstrate the value of women’s contributions’.

More information on the publisher’s website

To read Rachel’s description of the Loughwood Church records, see the National Trust website.

Seminar in Dissenting Studies

DR WILLIAMS’S CENTRE FOR DISSENTING STUDIES

Seminar in Dissenting Studies, the Lecture Hall, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR. All are welcome.

Wednesday 17 June 2015 5.15 to 6.45 pm

Timothy Whelan (Georgia Southern), ‘Mary Hays and Henry Crabb Robinson: Reconstructing a “Female Biography”’ 

Mary Hays has received considerable attention in the past two decades, through an edition of her correspondence, new editions of her novels and other prose, and important biographical studies, including Gina Luria Walker’s Mary Hays (1759-1843): The Growth of a Woman’s Mind (2006). Hays was herself concerned to record the lives of gifted women. Yet her own life history has been unnecessarily truncated and inaccurately presented owing to the absence of one critical resource: the life writings of Henry Crabb Robinson. Robinson met Hays in 1799 and, despite the sixteen-year difference in their ages, the friendship continued until her death in 1843. Robinson’s diary makes over 170 references to Hays, of which only seven have been published. Together with a valuable letter on Hays by Robinson to Catherine Clarkson in early 1800 concerning Hays’s affair with Charles Lloyd, these references provide an extensive genealogical record of Hays’s family after 1800 and their important involvement with Baptists and Unitarians, as well as Hays’s introduction to a vibrant group of Dissenting women from Leicester and their connections in the West Country that intersected at the same time with Godwin and his circle. Though Walker has referred to Hays’s life after 1806 as “buried”, Robinson’s accounts reveal something quite different, a woman who viewed herself and her life from within the prism of religious Dissent; a woman devoted to her family and their connections through marriage with several prominent Dissenting families (all friends of Robinson); a woman who held to many of the same opinions on religion, politics, and women’s rights she had first espoused in the 1790s; and who passed these ideals on to her niece and namesake, Matilda Mary Hays (1820-97), feminist and translator of George Sand.

Timothy Whelan is Professor of English at Georgia Southern University. He is Senior Visiting Fellow of the Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, and currently Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. His monograph, Other British Voices: Women, Poetry, and Religion, 1766-1840, is in press with Palgrave. It builds on his 8-volume edition of Nonconformist Women Writers 1720-1840 (Pickering & Chatto, 2011). He has published many other critical editions and articles including, most recently, ‘Wilhelm Benecke, Crabb Robinson, and “rational faith”, 1819-1837’; he is general editor of the forthcoming Oxford University Press edition of the Reminiscences and Diary of Henry Crabb Robinson.

Speaker’s profile: www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/people/whelan.html

For more information about the Seminar in Dissenting Studies contact James Vigus (j.vigus@qmul.ac.uk) or see www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/events/current.html

The Lucy Hutchinson Conference

Make sure you visit the website of the Centre for Early Modern Studies (University of Oxford) for details about the Lucy Hutchinson Conference, to be held at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, on Thursday 28 november 2013. You can register online until November 21st.

The new edition of Hutchinson’s collected works is supported by a website (with, among other things a bibliography of John Owen by Mark Burden) and a blog. The first volume, edited by Reid Barbour and David Norbrook was launched in February 2012 (see our Publications page).

9780199247363

Ucy_hutchinson

“Lucy Hutchinson is well known to seventeenth-century historians and literary scholars as the author of Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, a classic biography which sets the momentous life of her husband, a committed Puritan, republican and regicide, against the wider backdrop of the English Civil War and Restoration. This work, and a compelling though fragmentary autobiography, have been more or less continually in print since their publication from manuscript in 1806. Only recently, however, has the scale and range of her interests been recognized.

Continue reading The Lucy Hutchinson Conference

CFP: Early Modern Women, Religion, and the Body

This is a CFP forwarded by Rachel Adcock (Loughborough) that might be of interest to those working on dissenting women:

22-23 July 2014, Loughborough University.

Plenary speakers: Professor Mary Fissell (Johns Hopkins) and Dr Katharine Hodgkin (University of East London). With public lecture by Alison Weir (evening of 22 July, Martin Hall Theatre): ‘“The Prince expected in due season”: The Queen’s First Duty’

This two-day conference will explore the response of early modern texts to the relationship between religion and female bodily health. Scholars have long observed that understandings of the flesh and the spirit were inextricably intertwined in the early modern period, and that women’s writings or writings about women often explored this complex relationship. For instance, how did early modern women understand pain, illness, and health in a religious framework, and was this different to the understanding of those around them? Did women believe that their bodies were sinful? And were male and female religious experiences different because they took place in different bodies? Continue reading CFP: Early Modern Women, Religion, and the Body