Piety and sociability in early modern women's devotional writing
Morrissey, M. and Wright, G. (2006) Piety and sociability in early modern women's devotional writing. Women's Writing, 13 (1). pp. 44-59. ISSN 1747-5848
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/09699080500436075
The letters of early modern women demonstrate that their experience of religion was essentially social, contrary to the impression created by much modern work on diaries or meditations. The stereotypical melancholic, pious lady is far from the ideal offered by spiritual advisors, women and men, in their correspondence. Letters demonstrate how women created networks of spiritual support within and beyond their families. Letters also testify to the agency exercised by early modern women in religious matters, particularly in their assumption of the role of religious advisor and in their engagement with ecclesiastical politics. While this is far from showing that religion empowered all early modern women, it does offer a corrective to the unduly gloomy view of the role of religion in such women's lives. Letters provide indispensable testimony to the social nature of women's responses to the changing religious culture and politics of the eighteenth century.