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Ministers and Masters

Methodism, Manhood, and Honor in the Old South

216 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations

ebook available

Southern History

  Hardcover / 9780807138861 / November 2011

In Ministers and Masters Charity R. Carney presents a thorough account of the way in which Methodist preachers constructed their own concept of masculinity within—and at times in defiance of—the constraints of southern honor culture of the early nineteenth century. By focusing on this unique subgroup of southern men, the book explores often-debated concepts like southern honor and patriarchy in a new way.

Carney analyzes Methodist preachers both involved with and separate from mainstream southern society, and notes whether they served as itinerants—venturing into rural towns—or remained in city churches to witness to an urban population. Either way, they looked, spoke, and acted like outsiders, refusing to drink, swear, dance, duel, or even dress like other white southern men. Creating a separate space in which to minister to southern men, women, and children, oftentimes converting a dancehall floor into a pulpit, they raised the ire of non- Methodists around them. Carney shows how understanding these distinct and often defiant stances provides an invaluable window into antebellum society and also the variety of masculinity standards within that culture. 
In Ministers and Masters, Carney uses ministers’ stories to elucidate notions of secular sinfulness and heroic Methodist leadership, explores contradictory ideas of spiritual equality and racial hierarchy, and builds a complex narrative that shows how numerous ministers both rejected and adopted concepts of southern mastery. Torn between convention and conviction, Methodist preachers created one of the many “Souths” that existed in the nineteenth century and added another dimension to the well-documented culture of antebellum society.
Charity R. Carney is adjunct faculty in the Department of History at Stephen F. Austin State University

Praise for Ministers and Masters

“[Carney] unquestionably succeeds in giving us a much more satisfying and complex interpretation of the Methodist relationship to these aspects of southern culture than any other account has provided to date.”—Journal of Southern History

“As religious history, getting inside tensions specific to Methodism in the antebellum South, the book makes considerable and unique contributions.”—American Historical Review

“A valuable reference for historians of the South, of American religion, and of Arkansas.”—Arkansas Historical Quarterly

“An insightful analysis of a virtually unexplored topic....A fresh, engaging, and welcome addition to the historiography.”—Georgia Historical Quarterly

“This important new book by Charity Carney...shed[s] light on the complicated interplay of religion, masculinity, and honor...Recommended reading.”—Journal of Southern Religion

“Carney has made an important contribution....Ministers and Masters well worth reading for anyone interested in Methodism, society, slavery, and gender relations in the antebellum South.”—Methodist History

“Charity R. Carney’s new book, Ministers and Masters, represents an important contribution to this relatively young field. For the first time, a capable scholar has provided a narrative that demonstrates how one major southern denomination interplayed with the culture of honor and mastery.”—Louisiana History

“A worthwhile addition to the library of any reader interested in the social and cultural aspects of American society.”—Civil War News

Ministers and Masters, through its attention to discourse and rhetoric, offers a valuable contribution to the historiography of American Methodism, as well as other subfields. . . . In skillful prose, Carney makes a clear and persuasive argument.”—Ohio Valley History

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