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ERIC Number: EJ776455
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 27
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
Fraught Literacy: Competing Desires for Connection and Separation in the Writings of American Missionary Women in Nineteenth-Century Hawai'i
Desser, Daphne
College English, v69 n5 p443-469 May 2007
In this article, the author begins by discussing relevant research in nineteenth-century women's literacy on intimacy and community building. The author then describes how missionary women stationed in Hawai'i maintained some rhetorical expression and autonomous meaning making through the letters they wrote home to the States, the letters they wrote to each other, and entries in their diaries. The author discusses how these expressions of rhetorical power were compromised by ideological functions, such as concepts of "republican motherhood" and "true womanhood," which served both to broaden and to constrain women's access to literacy and discursive roles. The author analyzes specific records of literacy work, where one can observe the dynamic she has described and witness some of its formative effects. These records constitute three different, primary facets of the broader missionary project, each of which she takes up in its own section: (1) the literate practices the missionaries engaged in with the larger missionary culture; (2) reports of teaching English literacy to Native Hawaiians (and reports of the missionary women's own periodic acquisition of Hawaiian); and (3) accounts of the missionaries' teaching of English literacy to their own children. The author concludes by discussing some of the implications and lingering aftereffects of the fraught literacy and literacy education produced in this particular social and historical context. (Contains 13 notes.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Hawaii