Type of Document Dissertation Author Armstrong, Margaret Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-04092007-182054 Title Sacraments, Sacrifice, and Ritual: High Church Mysticism in the Letters of Jane Ellen Harrison and Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Humanities Program Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Barry Faulk Committee Chair Francis Cairns Committee Member Karen Laughlin Committee Member Nancy Warren Committee Member Keywords
- High Church
- Cambridge Ritualists
- Victorian Church
- Anglican ritualism
Date of Defense 2007-02-16 Availability unrestricted AbstractA gap exists in the biographical scholarship on Jane Ellen Harrison’s own personal religious beliefs that has affected how her work on ancient religion has been interpreted. Front and center in the discussion of Harrison’s religious beliefs has been her disdain of the Evangelical upbringing administered by her stepmother; this hatred of Evangelicalism has been interpreted as proof of her antagonism against all Victorian religion with no attention paid to the intricacies of Victorian Anglicanism. Harrison herself helped to muddy the waters. For instance, she often paradoxically referred to herself as a “religious atheist” and joined societies with names such as the Heretic Society. For all her bluster, however, allusions to the Anglican Church and it symbols and sacraments appear in her letters throughout her life. This bluster and the emphasis on Evangelicalism have made researching her religious background appear to be a futile undertaking.
A close reading of Harrison’s letters and work, however, reveals that as a young girl in Yorkshire she discovered her own brand of religion far removed from that of her evangelical stepmother—a religion that made her intensely aware of ritual and the religious impulse. In fact, Hope Mirrlees the companion of her latter years, called Harrison’s religion a “very wild brand.” In short, around the age of 17 Harrison became a High Church ritualist replete with all the “papist” paraphernalia so feared by evangelicals like her stepmother. Harrison’s letters, her autobiography Reminiscences of a Student’s Life, and Mirrlees’ notes combine to help piece together a puzzle about an undetected aspect of her life–the High Church Movement that swept through Mid-Victorian England, and became synonymous with what was called Anglican “ritualism.” There is a simple reason why this aspect of Harrison’s life has never been interrogated: Harrison’s deliberate silence on her ritualistic roots was part and parcel of her religious dogma and has misdirected the scholarship, which resulted in a misinterpretation of the her work.
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