American Feminism and the Birth of New Age Spirituality: Searching for the Higher Self, 1875-1915

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Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 - 203 pages
Contrary to popular thought, New Age spirituality did not suddenly appear in American life in the 1970s and '80s. In American Feminism and the Birth of New Age Spirituality, Catherine Tumber demonstrates that the New Age movement first flourished more than a century ago during the Gilded Age under the mantle of 'New Thought.' Based largely on research in popular journals, self-help manuals, newspaper accounts, and archival collections, American Feminism and the Birth of New Age Spirituality explores the contours of the New Thought movement. Through the lives of well-known figures such as Mary Baker Eddy, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and Edward Bellamy as well as through more obscure, but more representative 'New Thoughters' such as Abby Morton Diaz, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Ursula Gestefeld, Lilian Whiting, Sarah Farmer, and Elizabeth Towne, Tumber examines the historical conditions that gave rise to New Thought. She pays close attention to the ways in which feminism became grafted, with varying degrees of success, to emergent forms of liberal culture in the late nineteenth century-progressive politics, the Social Gospel, humanist psychotherapy, bohemian subculture, and mass market journalism. American Feminism and the Birth of New Age Spirituality questions the value of the new age movement-then and now-to the pursuit of women's rights and democratic renewal.

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Page 14 - Metaphysical Healing," or other forms of spiritual philosophy, who are so numerous among us to-day. The ideas here are healthyminded and optimistic; and it is quite obvious that a wave of religious activity, analogous in some respects to the spread of early Christianity, Buddhism, and Mohammedanism, is passing over our American world.
Page 16 - Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966). On pollution beliefs in New Guinea, see Shirley Lindenbaum, "A Wife is the Hand of Man," in Man and Woman in the New Guinea Highlands, ed.

About the author (2002)

Catherine Tumber is a staff editor for the Boston Phoenix. She holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Rochester.

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