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Quiverfull Reality and Rhetoric: Reading Practices in the Biblical Patriarchy Movement

  • Author(s): Sweeney, Bethany E.
  • Advisor(s): Godzich, Wlad
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the Christian Quiverfull movement, focusing on its underlying ideology, how that ideology is created and disseminated, and its similarity with certain aspects of broader U.S. culture. In doing so, it examines the written and visual texts produced and distributed by the movement. Though the dissertation covers a wide range of materials, including sermons, books, blog posts, films, and educational materials, its most significant focus is on the reality TV shows on which Quiverfull adherents appear, as those provide the most conspicuous example of Quiverfull belief and practice. To respond effectively to the Quiverfull use of this and other platforms, the dissertation combines techniques based in both literature and ethnography. This allows it to establish the broad boundaries of Quiverfull community as demonstrated by its textual production, to engage directly with the self-representation that the Quiverfull community practices, to situate that community within its larger cultural context, and to document and evaluate the textual practices that the Quiverfull movement uses to engage public audiences and attract them to its ideology. By using such methods, the dissertation documents not only the parameters of the worldview to which the Quiverfull movement adheres but also the methods by which they devise those parameters. It argues that the Quiverfull movement employs a model of reading that involves first establishing fundamental principles and then instructing its adherents to learn its worldview by teaching them to approach Scripture and other key texts as though engaging in a scavenger hunt. Using this model, readers discover the clues that lead to the construction of essential truths, verifying them and coming to embrace them through a process of identifying and understanding all items given on the scavenger hunt list, with the process ultimately leading to full membership in the community. Finally, the dissertation discusses how echoes of the Quiverfull method of approaching texts can be seen in broader U.S. culture, suggesting that the Quiverfull movement is not nearly as aberrant to dominant culture as it is often treated in public discourse.

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