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Title page for ETD etd-02252013-111724

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Payne, Leah Louise
URN etd-02252013-111724
Title "The Roar of Thunder and the Sweetness of a Woman" Gender and Twentieth-Century American Revivalism
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kathleen Flake Committee Chair
Amy-Jill Levine Committee Member
Dennis Dickerson Committee Member
Jay Geller Committee Member
  • ritual theory
  • gender theory
  • American religious history
  • revivalism
Date of Defense 2012-12-03
Availability unrestricted
This project examines gender and revivalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century America. I use gender and ritual theory to explore how women became powerful female revivalist ministers during the 1890s-1920s – an era in which public leadership was seen as naturally male. More specifically, this project offers an explanation for how two women – Maria Woodworth-Etter and Aimee Semple McPherson – overcame their gender, the taints of divorce, single motherhood, and public scandal to become powerful revivalist pastors. I argue that Woodworth-Etter and McPherson established authoritative careers by co-opting versions of ideal womanhood in service to their ministerial identities, and by displaying those identities through classic revivalist methods. This project demonstrates how the women’s use of biblical narrative, public image, worship space, and the ritualized act of preaching established their womanly and authoritative revivalist ministries.
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