Marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State in 1917, The Feminine Mystic is an interdisciplinary conference exploring the significance of women’s religious authority in American political and cultural contexts from the early republic through the long nineteenth century. Special consideration will be given to the Shakers’ celibacy and gender separation in relation to their efforts to establish women’s authority from their landing in New York from Manchester in 1774.
The Shaker experience illuminates the troubled, contingent, and fundamentally disunified idea of an American union in contour and counterpoint, and in prologue to the 19th-century heterodoxies of Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen White, Helena Blavatsky and other women whose political agency took forms of ecstatic prophecy, alternative theology, and visionary epistemology. Diverse in doctrine, these women align in their similar relation to structures of power and strategies for critiquing those structures.
This conference, hosted jointly by Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, invites papers in history, literature, theology, gender studies, American studies, and other areas of the humanities and social sciences about any aspect of women’s religious experience in the United States in the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries; the intersection of religious and political contexts for women; the bearing of that intersection upon the suffrage movement, the prohibition movement, and other causes; and literary and visual representations of women’s political and religious commitments during the period. Papers on the antecedents or after-effects of these themes in the earlier 18th or later 20th-21st centuries are also welcome.
Please email an abstract of no more than 200 words to Professor Katie Boswell firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1, 2016.