The Resource "'I Sing for I Cannot Be Silent': The Feminization of American Hymnody, 1870-1920" : A Book Review
- "'I Sing for I Cannot Be Silent': The Feminization of American Hymnody, 1870-1920" : A Book Review
- Title remainder
- A Book Review
- Statement of responsibility
- Cynthia Mahaffey
- This paper discusses the scholarly volume, "I Sing for I Cannot Be Silent: The Feminization of American Hymnody, 1870-1920" (June Hadden Hobbs). The book is a multilayered representation and reflection of both a particular textual community and of that community's cultural notions of gender and power. The volume uses a rhetorical methodology that includes the frameworks of orality and of feminist interpretations of women's views of textuality, reappropriation of cultural texts, and social construction of gender. This methodology is informed with the histories of hymnody, contemporary sentimental novels, theology, women's study clubs, and evangelical church life in the United States, and as such, contributes an important and powerful historical understanding of another way in which women have refused to be silent. Women's hymn-writing was acceptable to a society and to a church culture that did not permit women to speak publicly or preach or teach in mixed groups, but did allow them to sing. The paper notes the power with which rhetorical strategies by women hymn-writers encoded both the religious beliefs and practices of evangelical Christianity. (BT)
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