Settlement is a frequent topic in scholarly conversations about early American literature. From studies about William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation to Anne Bradstreet's poetry, settlement is a consistent theme in texts written by early Americans and in scholarship written by experts about early American texts. Settlement is also a major theme in the poetry written by Eliza R. Snow after fleeing with the Latter-day Saints from Missouri and settling in Nauvoo, Illinois. Both Bradstreet and Snow lived through settlement crises, crises that incorporated and exacerbated religious tensions within their communities eventually taking the form of the Antinomian Controversy and the Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844. The poetry left behind by Bradstreet and Snow is often an overlooked archive of historical sources that gives its readers insight into how these women responded to the crises within their communities and how feminine virtue played a role in their settlement crises. In light of this, in this paper I combine recent scholarship that focuses on Mormon settlement with scholarship that complicates the narratives about prominent women in Mormon history to unearth new insights into the lived experiences of Mormon women during settlement crisis. I borrow this move from scholars of early American history who have done this for a long time and have similarly uncovered new discoveries into the women that they study. Given that we now understand things that the Puritans did not fully--namely, that women are complex and that their historical images are often posthumously determined by archives (often controlled by powerful men)--I pay specific attention to the similarities of how settlement affects Puritan and Mormon women, both in their present-tense and in the historical narratives about them. Focusing on the intersection between settlement and women helps us to understand female writers, the way that women endured settlement, and the way that settlement affected the gender and overarching politics of their communities. Most notably, examining this intersection gives scholars insight into the ways that women writers--such as Anne Bradstreet and Eliza R. Snow--discipline their own narratives and leave behind poetical archives in order to be remembered as virtuous and well-behaved women, while the women who did not leave an archive are more susceptible to the narrative control of powerful men over historical archives.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Adams, Britta Karen, "An Archive of Poetry: Surviving Settlement, Upholding Feminine Virtue, and Practicing Narrative Discipline in Anne Bradstreet's and Eliza R. Snow's Poetry" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9573.
archive, poetry, settlement, virtue, Anne Bradstreet, Eliza R. Snow, Puritan, Mormon, Latter-day Saints