I am looking at the intersection of Seventh-day Adventism, health reform movements, changing gender constructions during the 19th century. The development of Seventh-day Adventism reveals many of the conflicting impulses and ideologies that shaped the lives of nineteenth-century Americans.
In combining progressive concerns about women’s health and dress with more conservative notions of domesticity and motherhood; linking salvation to diet, health, and reform but rejecting the predominant Protestant goal of creating heaven on earth; and adapting new medical technologies while insisting on divine guidance in the formation of their practices, Seventh-day Adventism complicates many of the standard narratives of American culture and religion’s place therein. Because of its situation at the intersection of many different religious and cultural traditions of thought, Seventh-day Adventism offers a unique opportunity to investigate the mutually constructing relationship between the religious tenets of a particular community, the constructions and uses of gender, race, and class to designate and contest claims of authority, the links between spiritual and physical fitness, and broader conversations in nineteenth-century America about health and social organization.
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