Saving the World: Girlhood and Evangelicalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Saving the World

Girlhood and Evangelicalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature, 1st Edition

Edited by Allison Giffen, Robin L. Cadwallader


236 pages

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pub: 2017-08-25
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This book makes a significant contribution to the burgeoning field of childhood studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture by drawing on the intersecting fields of girlhood, evangelicalism, and reform to investigate texts written in North America about girls, for girls, and by girls. Responding both to the intellectual excitement generated by the rise of girlhood studies, as well as to the call by recent scholars to recognize the significance of religion as a meaningful category in the study of nineteenth-century literature and culture, this collection locates evangelicalism at the center of its inquiry into girlhood. Contributors draw on a wide range of texts, including canonical literature by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan Warner, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and overlooked archives such as US Methodist Sunday School fiction, children’s missionary periodicals, and the Christian Recorder, the flagship newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. These essays investigate representations of girlhood that engage, codify, and critique normative Protestant constructions of girlhood. Contributors examine girlhood in the context of reform, revealing the ways in which Protestantism at once constrained and enabled female agency. Drawing on a range of critical perspectives, including African American Studies, Disability Studies, Gender Studies, and Material Culture Studies, this volume enriches our understanding of nineteenth-century childhood by focusing on the particularities of girlhood, expanding it beyond that of the white able-bodied middle-class girl and attending to the intersectionality of identity and religion.

Table of Contents

General Introduction

Part I: Evangelical Periodicals: Representing Girlhood in the Popular Press

1. "Heart Talk": Chinese Schoolgirls’ Letters to American Girls

Karen Li Miller

2. Lessons for Girls in Sunday School Stories: Representations of Evangelical Femininity in Nineteenth-Century Religious Periodicals for Children in Protestant Canada

Patricia Kmiec

3. Daughters of a Reading People: Representations of African American Girlhood and Female Literacy in the Christian Recorder

Vanessa Steinroetter


Part II: Whiteness and Grace: Racializing Christian girlhood

4. "never was born [again]": Grace, Blackness, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Domestic Evangelicalism

Allison S. Curseen

5. Opaque Bodies and Perpetual Girlhood in Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig

Laura J. Schrock


 Part III: Evangelicalism and Work: Reconceptualizing Reform

6. Rebecca Harding Davis, Louisa May Alcott, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps: Saving the World by Reclaiming Caritas

Robin L. Cadwallader

7. She "had such things to say!": Listening to "deaf-mute" Catty in Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’s The Silent Partner

Jaime Osterman Alves

8. Dwarfism and the Evangelical: Mary Garrettson’sCall for Reform in Mabel and Her Sunlit Home and Little Mabel’s Friends

Rachel Cope



Part IV: Friends and Family: Evangelical and Relational identities

9. "love of kindred spirits": Queer Friendship and the Evangelical Bildungsroman from The Wide, Wide World to Anne of Green Gables

Kristen Proehl

10. The Fortunate Fall: Disability and the Marriage Market in Martha Finley’s Elsie’s Children and Elsie’s Widowhood

Allison Giffen

11. Heavenly Fathers: Patriarchy, Paternity, and Affiliation in The Lamplighter

Alison Tracy Hale

About the Editors

Allison Giffen is Professor of English at Western Washington University, US.

Robin L. Cadwallader is Professor of English/Communications and Director of the Women's Studies Program at Saint Francis University of Pennsylvania, US.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Religion
RELIGION / Christian Life / Women's Issues
RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Evangelism
RELIGION / Christian Education / Children & Youth
RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Children