Imagining Methodism in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Enthusiasm, Belief, and the Borders of the Self
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Many individuals and institutions have made this book possible, and it is a pleasure to thank some of them here. The University of Tennessee’s Hodges Better English Fund, the College of Arts and Sciences’s Professional Development Awards, department heads John Zomchick and Chuck Maland, Dean Carolyn Hodges, Provost Susan Martin, and Dean...
Introduction. Longing to Believe: Methodism and Modernity
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Charlotte’s mixed reaction exemplifies a familiar split in early accounts of Methodism, the eighteenth-century religious movement that eventually became a denomination, led by John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield. On the one hand, Methodism represented an expression of personal religious transformation, including charity, literacy, self-discipline, and other practices...
1. Historicizing Methodism
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In spite of the voluminous written record left by Wesley as well as an outpouring of journals, hymns, letters, and newspaper reports, early Methodism is strangely hard to define. As Methodist historian David Hempton has observed, “the more one looks for an essence of Methodism, the more one is convinced there is no essence, apart from inspired innovation based on biblical...
2. The New Man: Desire, Transformation, and the Methodist Body
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The tabloid-ready sex crimes of “Mrs. Mary, otherwise Mr. George Hamilton” first appeared in Boddley’s Bath Journal of November 8, 1746, and versions of her adventures spread quickly. The record shows that Hamilton passed herself off as an anatomical male to multiple wives, each of whom lived with Hamilton for periods ranging from two weeks to over three...
3. Words Made Flesh: Fanny Hill and the Language of Passion
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From John Cleland’s point of view, it must have appeared that the movement called Methodism had overrun his homeland on his return to London in 1740, after eighteen years in Bombay. Between Cleland’s homecoming in 1740 and 1749, when the second volume of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure appeared, the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield had corporately...
4. Actors and Ghosts: Methodism in the Theater of the Real
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On June 28, 1760, Samuel Foote inaugurated a lively round of anti- Methodist satires with The Minor, an irreverent afterpiece that mocked Methodism in general and George Whitefield in particular. Foote appeared as himself in the comic prelude, promising his onlookers “one of those itinerant field orators” as “desert” [sic] and openly likening these preachers to...
5. “My Lord, My Love”: The Performance of Public Intimacy and the Methodist Hymn
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Methodist hymn singing, more than any other single feature of their worship, exemplified the Methodist assault on Anglican liturgical identity, bringing sonic innovation, emotional intensity, and a participatory aesthetic of worship to the Methodist meeting. Horace Walpole commented wryly to his friend John Chute that he had been “at one opera...
6. A Usable Past: Reconciliation in Humphry Clinker and The Spiritual Quixote
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After heaping scorn on the movement so often in his correspondence, Walpole’s suggestion that the Methodists are becoming more like midcentury “cultured” Britons, subject to luxury and capable of taste, almost sounds like peacemaking. His observations about the Bath chapel are echoed in The Historical and Local New Bath Guide, which announced the chapel displayed “taste and elegance in...
Afterword. 1778 and Beyond
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Though many more satires would flare, public responses to Methodism mellowed significantly after Whitefield’s death in 1771. The exceptional year in the general calm was 1778, when a burst of verse satires poured from the presses. But the terms of these largely forgettable poems seem motivated more by Wesleyan Methodism’s growing institutionalization than by...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 21 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012