Word and Its Witness
The Spiritualization of American Realism
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Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of Pages: 424
Width: 16.3 cm
Height: 23 cm
"What would Jesus do?" is now a rhetorical fixture, but the phrase was first popularized in one of the nineteenth century's best-selling novels, "In His Steps". Charles Sheldon's book is part of the vast, but mostly overlooked, history of evangelical culture that began during the Great Awakening. In this ground-breaking study, Gregory S. Jackson reveals the full impact of this tradition by exploring the development of religious media in America.Jackson shows how the homiletic tradition in Protestant sermons provided a foundation for the development of visual and literary realism. Evangelical preachers and writers used vivid language grounded in everyday life to translate abstract concepts like hell into concrete reality - a key influence on realist authors that brought about the more secular forms of the movement we know today. This emphasis on the sensuous also paved the way for Protestantism's embrace of new media, evident in the photographs of Jacob Riis as well as the video game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces".With its remarkable scope and timely insights into the interplay between religion, secularism, and politics, "The Word and Its Witness" will transform the way we understand American realism and American religion.
"This is a smart and ambitious book. Jackson exhibits a refreshing mixture of punchy prose, playful allusiveness, lucid explanation, and careful use of sources. By reconnecting realist narrative to its religious roots, his book is destined to leave its mark on critical narratives about American readers and texts." - Russ Castronovo, University of Wisconsin - Madison"