The spirit in the flesh : the translation of German Pietist imagery into Anglo-American cultures
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During the Protestant evangelical awakenings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, widely-circulated hymnals carried the message of evangelicals by way of mouth across great periods of time and vast geographic expanses. This study traces the cultural route of specific religious expressions in these hymns as they crossed national, linguistic, ecclesiastic, social, and other cultural barriers to become ubiquitous expressions found in religious, social, and political discourses. More specifically, this dissertation traces the route of fleshly-spiritual imagery in Baroque Lutheran and German Pietist hymns as they traveled to England by way of the Wesleys during the eighteenth-century evangelical revival and eventually surfaced during the Methodist revivals of the Second Great Awakening in nineteenth-century America. Fleshly-spiritual imagery, that concretizes spiritual experience in the human body, expressed a change in religious subjectivity experienced by Protestant revivalists in the period. This imagery captures an epistemological change in progress as individuals took authority from the clergy to commune directly with the Divine and judge the validity of that experience for themselves. Rather than framing this work as a study of specific authors or literary movements, I have traced the historical trajectory of a set of discursive practices as they were used by hymn authors, re-written by hymn editors, and often spontaneously reedited by participants. This discursive approach without regard to authorship and often in absence of standard texts more clearly illuminates the convergence of religious and public rhetoric, an intersection that remains occluded by traditional studies of a single author, genre, literary period, or national literature.