Disrupting Print: Emigration, the Press, and Narrative Subjectivity in the British Preaching and Writing of Zilpha Elaw, 1840-1860s

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Abstract

This essay examines Zilpha Elaw's Memoirs and her peripatetic theology as acts of resistance against British print culture. In 1827, Elaw began an itinerant Methodist ministry in Burlington County, New Jersey, and traveled extensively from Maine to Virginia. She moved to England in 1840, wrote and published her Memoirs, and continued her ministry into the 1860s. Elaw remarried in 1850, establishing a permanent home in London where she lived until her death in 1873. Both her written and her oral work were rejections of a British press that was overzealous in its depictions of American enslavement and its self-congratulatory representations of England as a bastion of free and enlightened civilization. The essay reads news articles, advertising, and ephemera in local papers of London and northern England as both a means of consumption of and knowledge production about American slavery. Elaw gets scripted by but writes her way out of those boundaries and redefines her own place in the print culture of nineteenth-century religious diaspora.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-109
Number of pages16
JournalMELUS
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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