Spiritual Interrogations: Culture, Gender, and Community in Early African American Women's Writing

By Katherine Clay Bassard | Go to book overview

Introduction

Methinks I heard a spiritual interrogation— “Who shall go forward, and take off the reproach that is cast upon the people of color? Shall it be a woman?” And my heart made this reply—“If it is thy will, be it even so, Lord Jesus!” (Maria W. Stewart, “Lecture Delivered at Franklin Hall”)

IN HER “Lecture Delivered at Franklin Hall” in Boston on September 22, 1832, Maria W. Stewart includes this conversation with God. 1 Significantly, this dialogue harkens back to an earlier encounter with divinity in Stewart's life for which this dialogue serves as a response. The call to political and social action is preceded by Stewart's conversion experience in 1830, which commands her “to come out of the world and be separate; to go forward and be baptized”:

Methought I heard a spiritual interrogation, are you able to drink of that cup that I have drank of? And to be baptized with the baptism I have been baptized with? And my heart made this reply: Yea, Lord, I am able. (66)

In the public forum of oratorical performance, Stewart speaks of the most private of communications—between self and Spirit. And it is this public utterance of private communication that marks so much of early African American women's writings, as the experience of Christian conversion figures so prominently in their texts. As Stewart's theological formulation makes clear, communication with Spirit is dialogical, a giveand-take signified by its interrogative nature. Unlike the commands, demands, catechisms, and chastisements that often characterized black women's interactions with white male and female owners/employees, and black male fathers, spouses, and community leaders, dialogue with Spirit signifies neither conquest nor coercion. 2 Rather, God as spiritual interrogator asks questions that prompt a response from the “heart.”

It is within these private encounters with Spirit that African American women often experienced a conferral of personhood denied by larger social constructions of African American and female subjectivity. For it is within this divine dialogue that black women's subjectivity is produced even as her agency is acknowledged and affirmed. The “I” that

-3-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Spiritual Interrogations: Culture, Gender, and Community in Early African American Women's Writing
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 183

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.