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150BOOK REVIEWS protection, the translation of reUcs, homeopathic medicine in the nineteenth century, and Catholic devotionalism to explain the spread of this devotion and its meaning for participants. In the course of her discussion, she also makes a number of teUing points of far-reaching taiportance for the history of Catholics in America. She notes, for example, that men as well as women participated enthusiasticaUy in the Lourdes devotion, raising questions about common characterizations of CathoUc devotionalism as female-dominated. Her discussion of debates over Christian art in the 1950's and 1960's is likely to be more controversial. She argues that these debates were fought out"within a binary aesthetic system shaped by cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity." Critics of the older, representational art of devotional CathoUcism, McDanneU points out,frequently attacked it as sentimental, superficial, and thus "feminine," whüe they praised new, more abstract or hieratic art for its cleanUness and forceful simpUcity, or "masculine" power. McDanneU does not assume that this debate is only about gender (or about class which also seems to figure prominently in this controversy), but through her close examination of the language of the debate, she intelligently uncovers the complexity of what previously may have seemed only a straightforward conflict between Uturgical "tradition" and "reform." By just opening up study ofthe material dimension of Christianity, McDanneU has written a criticaUy important, necessary book; through her Unagtaative research and insight, she has also written an intriguing and exceptionally fine one. TimothyJ. Meagher The Catholic University ofAmerica Roads to Rome: The Antebellum Protestant Encounter with Catholicism. By Jenny Franchot. [The New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics, 28.] (Berkeley: University of CaUfornia Press. 1994. Pp. xxvii, 500. $55.00 cloth; $18.00 paperback.) InAmerica, no reUgious community can avoid interaction with its neighbors. In theory free and equal, these meetings have often been marked by disdain mixed with longing, stirred by the fear and excitement of approaching a reUgion unlike one's own. Jenny Franchot's Roads to Rome explores the unsettled and yet much-visited boundary between antebeUum Protestantism and CathoUcism . Although Franchot explains that she might have studied both Protestant and CathoUc responses, she wrote, for the sake of focus, about the Protestant imagtaation only. She masterfuUy estabUshes Protestants' obsession with things CathoUc. Seen through a mental lens associating Catholicism with quaUties of tateriority sensuaUty, and femininity, Protestant writers investigated thee own identities by paetag Catholic and Protestant images. Not only did they draw BOOK reviews151 Unes to distinguish themselves from Catholics in such fevered exposés as Maria Monk's AwfulDisclosures ofthe HotelDieu Nunnery (1836), but, in a far more conflicted mood, considered what they beUeved to be Catholicism in complex fictions, including Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter (1850) and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Agnes ofSorrento (1862). Franchot's impressive cataloguing and interpretation of texts help a reader such as mysetf, trained as a historian, to situate Roads to Rome as a kind of Uterary criticism interested in language as an index of culture. Historians accustomed to linear arguments about cause and effect may be perplexed by the book's structure (the first haU on nervous dismissal of Catholicism, the second on anxious courtship) and exhaustive reading of tension-fiUed literature. Franchot does offer a subtle thesis, however, about reUgion, creativity, and language. It poses questions appUcable to the study Franchot did not undertake: the formation of antebeUum American CathoUc culture through dialogue with Protestantism . The condition of Protestants' tremulous exchanges with Catholicism was "the modernWest's withdrawal from a cohesive spirituaUty" (p. xxvii).Although Franchot does not quite mean secularization, she turns repeatedly to the concept of"authenticity" to connote the renewal sought by a flaccid Protestantism through engagement with Catholicism. The CathoUc tradition may have been no more grounded than the Protestant sects (though she impUes it was); but Protestant contact with its Unagtaed opposite was, at its best, the spark of a reclaimed tawardness expressed as Uterary creativity. Stories with CathoUc themes by Poe and MeIvUIe "forged new authenticities," for example,"from the taauthenticities of nativism"(p. 164). Protestant spUitual decline is not a new idea among scholars nor would antebeUum CathoUcs have been surprised by Franchot...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 150-152
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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