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Summer 2012, 42:4, pages 353-374

“The Stereoscopic View of Truth”:  The Feminist Theological Rhetoric of Frances Willard’s Woman in the Pulpit

Abstract: Scholarship across the fields of rhetoric, history, and religion credits Frances Willard for her activist work, most notably her contribution to the nineteenth-century temperance movement. Although this scholarship references Willard’s religious motivations, it is silent about one of the causes that Willard was committed to, women’s preaching, and rarely cites her book, Woman in the Pulpit. By offering a close reading of the rhetorical and theological features of Woman in the Pulpit, this essay (1) suggests that Willard introduces a feminist theological resolution to the separate spheres ideological debate of the nineteenth century—the prevailing discourse that men should lead in political=public space, and women should occupy domestic=private space; and (2) recasts Woman in the Pulpit as a central text in Willard’s repertoire—a magnum opus of sorts that represents her feminist brand of Christian Socialist thought.

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