Harold Frederic's Social Drama and the Crisis of 1890's Evangelical Protestant Culture

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The books written by Harold Frederic depict a self-made, properly Protestant American. Yet, in some of his books in particular The Damnation of Theron Ware, Frederic depicts self-made women, and challenges the idea that only men can attain culturally-defined success. The works offer an inversion of late 19th century gender-based expectations.


“Adams presents the code of accepted Victorian etiquette as being the basis for an ‘interlocking series of sociological systems,’ which lends Frederic’s work worthy of an interdisciplinary study.”
Prof. Amanda Knight, Andrew College

“Scrupulously researched, Adams uncovers Fredric’s clever use of etiquette mistakes to highlight the slow-but-sure ‘damnation’ of Reverend Theron Ware as he grapples with the modern world. While other scholars have focused on the usual suspects: class, gender, regionalism, Adams shows that middle class Americans, especially ‘proper’ Protestant ministers, were bound by a tight, complex web of etiquette rules. Thus each moral misstep of Reverend Ware is accompanied by some fumbling of etiquette that would have shocked readers at the time. Violate the rules of etiquette and be damned!”
Prof. Jonathan Bean,
Southern Illinois University

“This book carefully, yet accurately, asks us to consider nineteenth century masculinity and femininity as lived out in religious and social contexts long forgotten, yet essential to the development of our current attitudes and ‘manners’.”
Rev. Thomas R. Jewell
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma

Table of Contents

Foreword by Thomas R. Jewell
Chapter 1: Serpents v. Doves and the ‘Sabe’ of ‘Common Sense’ : The Gospel According to Sister Soulsby
1. Debt Raising, Handshakes and the Theater of Revival:
2. “No,…the chief thing is to have her like you”:
3. Bumbling Through Gender Spheres:
Chapter 2: The Emblem of Modernity and Manners: Father Forbes, Dr. Ledsmar, and the Devolution of Theron Ware
1. Meandering Towards the Evolving Organ:
2. “The word ‘Abram’ is merely an eponym”:
3. Entering the Lion’s Den of Post-Biblical Modernity
4. The Soul of the American Twentieth Century
5. The Not-So-Well-Bred Christian Gentlemen
Chapter 3: Delusional Boredom: Celia Madden, Theron Ware, and the New Woman
1. “My poor inferior sex has to be introduced”
2. “I have a reason for wanting to know”
3. “Fate walked abroad this summer night”
4. “There was something very pleasingly human”
5. “Yes, this is New York”

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