Imaginary Friends: Representing Quakers in American Culture, by James Emmett Ryan

By James Emmett Ryan

Whilst americans this day think about the non secular Society of neighbors, larger referred to as Quakers, they could photo the smiling determine on containers of oatmeal. yet seeing that their arrival within the American colonies within the 1650s, Quakers’ religious values and social conduct have set them except different american citizens. And their example—whether genuine or imagined—has served as a spiritual sense of right and wrong for an increasing nation.             Portrayals of Quakers—from risky and anarchic figures in seventeenth-century theological debates to ethical exemplars in twentieth-century theater and movie (Grace Kelly in excessive midday, for example)—reflected makes an attempt through writers, speechmakers, and dramatists to grapple with the troubling social problems with the day. As foils to extra generally held spiritual, political, and ethical values, individuals of the Society of buddies grew to become touchstones in nationwide discussions approximately pacifism, abolition, gender equality, purchaser tradition, and modernity.     Spanning 4 centuries, Imaginary acquaintances takes readers throughout the transferring representations of Quaker existence in quite a lot of literary and visible genres, from theological debates, missionary paintings files, political concept, and biography to fiction, poetry, theater, and movie. It illustrates the ways in which, through the lengthy historical past of Quakerism within the usa, those “imaginary” associates have provided an intensive version of morality, piety, and anti-modernity opposed to which the evolving tradition has measured itself.  Winner, selection awesome educational e-book Award

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Extra info for Imaginary Friends: Representing Quakers in American Culture, 1650-1950 (Studies in American Thought and Culture)

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The silent era appears to have used Quakers consistently in its plotting. Although the films themselves have not survived, A Quaker Mother (1911, Vitagraph Company of America), The Quakeress (1913), Bred in the Bone (1915), The Dancing Girl (1915), The Quack Quakers (1916), and Beauty’s Worth (1922) mirrored developments on the popular stage by featuring Friends as important characters. This chapter also examines representations of American Quakers in a range of films from the first half of the twentieth century, including Down to the Sea in Ships (1922), The Courageous Mr.

My survey of three centuries of debate over 24 E Introduction the role of Quakers in American society concludes with an examination in chapter 6 of theatrical and cinematic representations of Quakers from the late eighteenth century to approximately 1950. The overwhelming dominance of print as a mass medium during the nineteenth century, which by the antebellum period had made it the primary form of national acculturation, expanded unabated until the rise of cinema in the early years of the twentieth century, when visual mass media began its rapid ascent to preeminence in depicting American society for ever-larger audiences.

After the repeal of a series of eighteenth-century laws prohibiting plays of any kind, after the American Revolution, dramatists like John Murdock began featuring Quakers prominently in their works, such as his popular farce The Triumphs of Love (1795), which is also the first American play to broach the subject of abolitionism. As Quakers grew into newly Introduction E 25 public positions in the national discourse over slavery during the antebellum period, and distinguished writers began to include Friends as fictional characters and American types (see chapter 5), Quakers continued to make occasional appearances in plays The perceived “theatricality” of Quakers in American life can be attributed both to specific religious views that placed them at a considerable distance from the norm and also to habits of speech, dress, and moralistic demeanor that lent their characters a large measure of peculiarity instantly recognizable as at variance from the larger culture.

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