Mere Equals: The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic by Lucia McMahon (review)

Mere Equals: The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic by Lucia McMahon (review) REVIEWS the transformative force of the American Revolution that Lawrence suggests changed the familial nature of early Methodism. That is, while American influences may have inspired the Wesleys to consider their connection as a new family, Methodism in America never did function fully as a new family, as it was born in transition. I find Lawrence's main thesis, that Methodist culture helped shape Victorian sentiment, engaging and plausible, but question the effectiveness of her focus on political and institutional history in her final chapter. Ultimately Methodists' emotionalism and their desire for spiritual soulmates were cultural, not political, acts. To fully trace these sources to an end state of companionate, romantic marriage, the final chapter might have trained more focus on the social or cultural changes in American or English life, which would help better explain how Methodism grew influential in this matter. This final political turn in the narrative, in which the fault lies with Methodist bureaucracy, not culture, also obscures the dark side of sentimentality. Methodists did have a hand in furthering companionate marriage, but their individualistic, romantic tendencies were not unmixed blessings. Lawrence suggests as much in noting that the same culture of sentimentality allowed southern http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Mere Equals: The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic by Lucia McMahon (review)

Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 33 (3) – Jul 5, 2013

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

REVIEWS the transformative force of the American Revolution that Lawrence suggests changed the familial nature of early Methodism. That is, while American influences may have inspired the Wesleys to consider their connection as a new family, Methodism in America never did function fully as a new family, as it was born in transition. I find Lawrence's main thesis, that Methodist culture helped shape Victorian sentiment, engaging and plausible, but question the effectiveness of her focus on political and institutional history in her final chapter. Ultimately Methodists' emotionalism and their desire for spiritual soulmates were cultural, not political, acts. To fully trace these sources to an end state of companionate, romantic marriage, the final chapter might have trained more focus on the social or cultural changes in American or English life, which would help better explain how Methodism grew influential in this matter. This final political turn in the narrative, in which the fault lies with Methodist bureaucracy, not culture, also obscures the dark side of sentimentality. Methodists did have a hand in furthering companionate marriage, but their individualistic, romantic tendencies were not unmixed blessings. Lawrence suggests as much in noting that the same culture of sentimentality allowed southern

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Jul 5, 2013

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