Abstract

Studying the life and literary legacy of May Drummond, a celebrated Quaker female preacher who was ignominiously expelled from the Society of Friends in 1766, enables scholars to focalize intersections of religious controversy and secular satire during the First Great Awakening. In her travelling ministry, Drummond advocated principles that seventeenth-century Quaker theorists derived from Ibn Tufayl’s Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓn (“Alive, Son of Awake”), a twelfth-century Arabic fiction that depicts a protagonist who achieves enlightenment unfettered by the dogmas of religious institutions and authorities. Drummond’s ministry threatened the increasingly centralized organization of a transatlantic Society of Friends, while also inspiring writers to appropriate her persona in controversial satires. Alexander Pope invoked Drummond’s humble virtue in order to critique corruptions of church and state, and Samuel Johnson cited her ministry as exemplary of Quaker subversions. My article attributes Drummond’s notoriety to the convergence of two cultures of writing: an arena of popular print and an internal system of ministerial certification that Quaker elders used to curtail her influence.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 287-312
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-30
Open Access
No
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