American Feminism and the Birth of New Age Spirituality: by Catherine Tumber

By Catherine Tumber

Opposite to well known idea, New Age spirituality didn't unexpectedly seem in American lifestyles within the Seventies and '80s. In American Feminism and the start of latest Age Spirituality, Catherine Tumber demonstrates that the recent Age circulation first flourished greater than a century in the past throughout the Gilded Age below the mantle of 'New Thought.'

Based principally on learn in renowned journals, self-help manuals, newspaper bills, and archival collections, American Feminism and the delivery of recent Age Spirituality explores the contours of the recent inspiration stream. throughout the lives of famous figures akin to Mary Baker Eddy, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and Edward Bellamy in addition to via extra imprecise, yet extra consultant 'New Thoughters' resembling Abby Morton Diaz, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Ursula Gestefeld, Lilian Whiting, Sarah Farmer, and Elizabeth Towne, Tumber examines the old stipulations that gave upward push to New notion. She will pay shut awareness to the ways that feminism grew to become grafted, with various levels of good fortune, to emergent varieties of liberal tradition within the overdue 19th century―progressive politics, the Social Gospel, humanist psychotherapy, bohemian way of life, and mass industry journalism.

American Feminism and the delivery of latest Age Spirituality questions the worth of the hot age movement―then and now―to the pursuit of women's rights and democratic renewal.

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Modem gnosticism enabled its adherents to escape unbearable tensions caused by the very act of being viewed-as guides to self-presentation became ever more elusive-and to opt out or "disappear" while remaining within a re­ ligious idiom. "23 In the absence of a public realm, nineteenth-century society performed a similar 30 � Chapter One function, which explains why Victorian culture-so easily caricatured and ridiculed---cared so much about appearances. The cult of civility and man­ ners, which arose out of liberal commercialism, was concerned less with so­ cial control or class warfare than with preserving a critical distinction be­ tween what should appear in public and what should remain embedded in privacy.

Social housekeeping,'' as Hannah Arendt has referred to this form of polit­ ical privatization as it found a place within the administrative politics of lib­ eral reform, was surely an oxymoron. )- 33 involvement in political life. But as a young woman in the early 1880s, Ad­ dams was merely one of many who experienced nervous collapse when faced with the complexities of finding meaningful life work in the world outside the home. " Grouped in the loose coterie of organiza­ tions known as New Thought, most had experimented with spiritualism, Christian Science, and Theosophy and found them wanting.

It was precisely because defenders of manners and morals valued "privacy" so much, and even regarded what took place within it as sacred, that they sought to shield its mysteries from the common world through elaborate rules of decorum. But as early as the mid-seventies, the social world-resting as it did on the liberal market-generated invasive pressures that threatened the rules of decorum for which middle-class women felt responsible and that helped them to make sense of the common world. Before department stores, mass advertising, and other recognizable elements of the consumer economy ap­ peared in the 1 880s and 1890s, mass-market consumer culture and its frater­ nal twin, professionalization, had already taken hold in the immediate after­ math of the Civil War.

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