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Using narrative analysis and discourse analysis to determine patterns of meaning in the sermon language of women preachers

Author: Pamela Davis Hopkins; Donna L Lillian; East Carolina University. Department of English.
Publisher: [Greenville, N.C.] : East Carolina University, 2010.
Dissertation: Ph. D. East Carolina University 2010
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Throughout Western history, women preachers have been marginalized. Even though women have filled the pews as members of the congregation, acted as Sunday school teachers, cooks, and members of the choir, in addition to coordinating bake sales and other fund raising events, men have customarily held the leadership positions. In 1853, Antoinette Brown Blackwell became the first woman to be ordained in the  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Sermons
Named Person: Anna Howard Shaw; Lucretia Mott; Melissa Frazier; Lucy Lind Hogan; Shauna Hannan; Wanda Neely
Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Pamela Davis Hopkins; Donna L Lillian; East Carolina University. Department of English.
OCLC Number: 701552793
Notes: Presented to the faculty of the Department of English.
Advisor: Donna Lillian.
Title from PDF title page (viewed April 4, 2011).
Description: 246 pages : digital, PDF file
Details: System requirements: Adobe Reader.; Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Responsibility: by Pamela Davis Hopkins.

Abstract:

Throughout Western history, women preachers have been marginalized. Even though women have filled the pews as members of the congregation, acted as Sunday school teachers, cooks, and members of the choir, in addition to coordinating bake sales and other fund raising events, men have customarily held the leadership positions. In 1853, Antoinette Brown Blackwell became the first woman to be ordained in the Congregationalist Church. In the 21st century, women are still fighting to preach from the pulpit. More women than ever before are entering seminaries, but not all of those women will receive a call from a church. Some of those women who do receive a call will encounter resistance from male colleagues, bosses, church hierarchy, and even congregational members. While the struggle of women preachers to gain access to the pulpit is not the focus of this study, it is important to recognize that struggle, and it is interesting to wonder how that struggle might be reflected in the lives and work of female preachers. Therefore, this study examines the sermon language of women preachers. Specifically, it uses narrative analysis to look for patterns of meaning evident in the language employed by the women preachers as they attempt to adapt to the traditionally male-dominated occupation of preaching. Two of the sermons under consideration in this dissertation come from 19th- century women preachers, and eight of the sermons come from 21st- century women preachers. Two forms of analyses are used: a narrative analysis to determine whether each sermon utilizes the six elements of narrative structure designated by William Labov (abstract, orientation complicating action, evaluation, resolution, and coda), and a discourse analysis based on the work of James Paul Gee who suggests asking questions based around seven building tasks, using six tools of inquiry. The results of the analyses illustrate that each of these women preachers utilize Labov's narrative structure, although each preacher modifies the structure to create her sermon discourse, and that women preachers utilize their sermon language to construct significance, activities, identities, relationships, politics, connections, sign systems, and knowledge. None of these women create a sermon discourse that highlights her own struggle to become a preacher. Instead, each preacher creates a sermon discourse that focuses on the Bible text for the day and her interpretation of that text. In short, each of these women preaches like a preacher and not like a woman.

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