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The laws of god and men: Eliza Davies' story of an earnest life

Journal Article


Abstract


  • This article explores Eliza Davies' 1881 autobiography The Story of an Earnest Life through the lens of nineteenth-century spiritual autobiographic genres. It analyses Davies' use of the spiritual autobiography to create a subjectivity beyond the culturally-sanctioned role of wife and mother, a sense of self that is closely linked to her legal identity. In South Australia in the early 1840s, Davies found herself trapped in a position of legal non-subject through her marriage to a violent, alcoholic husband. Her autobiography charts not only her spiritual journey as Christ's missionary, but also he recreation as a legal subject through the divorce proceedings she brought against her husband in the 1860s. Through her interrogation of legal identity, Davies registers a dissenting voice in contemporary religious and imperial discourses regarding women's social and legal position. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Ailwood, S. (2011). The laws of god and men: Eliza Davies' story of an earnest life. Life Writing, 8(4), 433-444. doi:10.1080/14484528.2011.619717

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84857840743

Start Page


  • 433

End Page


  • 444

Volume


  • 8

Issue


  • 4

Abstract


  • This article explores Eliza Davies' 1881 autobiography The Story of an Earnest Life through the lens of nineteenth-century spiritual autobiographic genres. It analyses Davies' use of the spiritual autobiography to create a subjectivity beyond the culturally-sanctioned role of wife and mother, a sense of self that is closely linked to her legal identity. In South Australia in the early 1840s, Davies found herself trapped in a position of legal non-subject through her marriage to a violent, alcoholic husband. Her autobiography charts not only her spiritual journey as Christ's missionary, but also he recreation as a legal subject through the divorce proceedings she brought against her husband in the 1860s. Through her interrogation of legal identity, Davies registers a dissenting voice in contemporary religious and imperial discourses regarding women's social and legal position. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Ailwood, S. (2011). The laws of god and men: Eliza Davies' story of an earnest life. Life Writing, 8(4), 433-444. doi:10.1080/14484528.2011.619717

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84857840743

Start Page


  • 433

End Page


  • 444

Volume


  • 8

Issue


  • 4