“Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy: Gendering the Transpersonal Subject”
Schrager, Cynthia D. “Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy: Gendering the Transpersonal Subject.” American Literature 70, no. 1 (1998): 29–62.
Schrager finds commonality between Mary Baker Eddy’s “theological/therapeutic movement” and Mark Twain’s “mental telegraphy” (30). Both sought legitimacy by associating their convictions with the “newly professionalizing discourse of science” (31). However, Schrager sees tension between the autonomous individualism (i.e., masculine) characterizing the sciences, and Twain’s and Eddy’s transpersonal, self-abandoning, subjective, “mystical belief in the transcendental power of the mind” (30) (i.e., feminine). According to Schrager, to deal with the tension, both sought to “displace the anxieties generated by the anti-individualistic implications of a transpersonal theory of consciousness onto the opposite sex” (31). For Twain the autonomous, democratic individualism of the male is threatened by Eddy’s transgression of 19th-century female norms—her daring public ministry, “monopoly of religious interpretation” and power (43), and her hierarchical, corporate church structure. For Eddy, the integrity of womanhood is threatened, if not mentally seduced, by the aggressive masculinity of mesmerist and physician—”a materialistic, masculine agent who, wresting moral authority from the clergy, invaded and violated a specifically feminine realm of the spirit” (34). Although Schrager documents the tensions and contradictions of Eddy and Twain, a few of her less-than-credible sources would have been balanced by access to the archival materials later made available in the Mary Baker Eddy Library that capture more of Eddy’s faith and character.
Print ISSN: 0002-9831
See also annotations:
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Academic Credentials or Fee
- Controversy: Sex and Marriage
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Twain, Mark
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Article
- Subjects: Feminist Perspectives
- Subjects: Medicine
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies