The Acoustics of Abolition: Recovering the Evangelical Anti–Slave Trade Discourse Through Late-Eighteenth-Century Sermons, Hymns, and Prayers

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Title: The Acoustics of Abolition: Recovering the Evangelical Anti–Slave Trade Discourse Through Late-Eighteenth-Century Sermons, Hymns, and Prayers
Authors: Gilman, Daniel
Date: 2013
Abstract: This thesis explores the late-eighteenth-century movement to end Britain’s transatlantic slave trade through recovering one of the major discourses in favour of abolition, namely that of the evangelical Anglicans. This important intellectual milieu has often been ignored in academia and is discovered through examining the sermons, hymns, and prayers of three influential leaders in this movement: Member of Parliament William Wilberforce, pastor and hymn writer John Newton, and pastor and professor Charles Simeon. Their oral texts reveal that at the heart of their discourse lies the doctrine of Atonement. On this foundation these abolitionists primarily built a vocabulary not of human rights, but of public duty. This duty was both to care for the destitute as individuals and to protect their nation as a whole because they believed that God was the defender of the enslaved and that he would bring providential judgement on those nations that ignored their plight. For the British evangelicals, abolishing the slave trade was not merely a means to avoid impending judgement, but also part of a broader project to prepare the way for Jesus’s imminent return through advancing the work of reconciliation between humankind and God as they believed themselves to be confronting evil in all of its forms. By reconfiguring the evangelical abolitionist arguments within their religious framework and social contexts, this thesis helps overcome the dissonance that separates our world from theirs and makes accessible the eighteenth-century abolitionist discourse of a campaign that continues to resonate with human rights activists and scholars of social change in the twenty-first-century.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24055
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-2956
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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