English Ph.D. Dissertations


Devout Pedagogies: A Textual Analysis of Late Nineteenth Century Christian Women

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Sue Wood (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Ellen Gorsevski (Other)

Third Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)


This project is situated in scholarship surrounding the rescue, recovery, and (re)inscription of historical women rhetors, particularly those within religious spaces. It places a lens on the rhetorical practices of two religious women: Jessie Penn-Lewis and Margaret E. Barber. I argue that it is important to investigate these women, for doing so reveals not only an area that has not received extensive critical attention, but also informs how scholars look at pedagogy, particularly in religious spaces. The project and methods are grounded in feminist research practices. This project is historical in nature and will thus draw upon feminist historical and archival research methods as my primary methods of investigation. Further, this project is framed as two case studies, which examine closely through textual analysis surviving work produced by these women to begin to extend our knowledge of pedagogical and rhetorical practices in religious spaces. The heuristic used to investigate these texts and women bring forward key themes for study and application such as: how space is used, whether rhetorical or physical; what kind of tools can be used or appropriated for teaching practices; how texts and women circulate and under what conditions and intentions. Finally, I argue for their inclusion within the rhetorical canon as well as rewriting histories of women’s rhetoric; for their work is not only worthy of recognition from the past but more importantly for future scholarship that acknowledges the ways in which institutions of power are still over girls and women. This dissertation points further to the need to research literate practices of “ordinary” people and the barriers of public and private still existing today.