Based largely on research in popular journals, self-help manuals, newspaper accounts, and archival collections, American Feminism and the Birth of New Age Spirituality demonstrates that the New Age movement first flourished more than a century ago during the Gilded Age under the mantle of 'New Thought'. Tumber pays close attention to the ways in which feminism became grafted, with varying degrees of success, to emergent forms of liberal culture in the late nineteenth century, and questions the value of the new age movement-then and now-to the pursuit of women's rights and democratic renewal.
Catherine Tumber is a staff editor for the Boston Phoenix. She holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Rochester.
Chapter 1 Introduction: Gnosticism and the Erosion of Public Life Chapter 2 The Moral Revolution of Metaphysics: The Rebirth of Gnosticism in Modern Times; The Public Crisis of Liberal Religion; Women and Fractured Appearances; Gnosticism and the Reform Impulse Chapter 3 New Thought and the Cosmic Sphere of Women: Emma Curtis Hopkins and Women's Alienation; Ursula Gestefeld, Therapeutic Space, and the Claims of Duty; Lilian Whiting's Muddle of Manners: Taste, Appearances, and the A-Cosmic Self Chapter 4 The Metaphysics of Nationalism: Abby Morton Diaz, the Emersonian Inheritance, and the Cult of Oneness; Edward Bellamy's Passion for the Nude in Things of Thought; The Theosophical Ensoulment of Nationalism; The Diseased and Discordant Elements of the Body Chapter 5 Cultural Experimentation in the New Age: Gnostic Syncretism and Its Dearth of Critics; The Syncretic Cultus of Greenacre: A Peaceful Thought Colony Chapter 6 Everyday Physics: Gnostic Theology and the Bohemian Manners of Mass Culture: The Stilted Esthetics of New Thought; Feminine Bohemianism; From the Higher Self to the Universal I WANT Chapter 7 Conclusion: The Empowered Self and Gnostic Spiritual Flight