Religious Impulse in Selected Autobiographies of American Women (c. 1630-1893) Uses of the Spirit

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This study develops the theme of spiritual rhetoric as an important foundation of the American autobiographical tradition and the related idea that the marginalized voices of women and African-Americans worked to alter and redefine America's conception not only of autobiography but of self and gender. The redefinition process is illustrated through readings of texts ranging from Puritan conversion (Anne Bradstreet) through evangelical autobiography (African-American evangelist Amanda Berry Smith) and from Indian captivity narrative through the slave and ex-slave (post-bellum) narratives.


". . . a literate, insightful, and beautifully articulate exploration of the female autobiographical tradition. . . . She draws together a superb cast of writers, from the well known to the newly recovered. . . . In tracing the parallels within her selected texts, Davidson shows in eloquent detail the shape of that women's tradition, which is just now beginning to garner scholarly attention. . . . This is both a beautiful and an important work." -- Elizabeth Bell

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