Writing on Multiple Journeys

Article English OPEN
Sarah Robbins ; Ann Ellis Pullen (2012)
  • Publisher: eScholarship Publishing, University of California
  • Journal: Journal of Transnational American Studies (issn: 1940-0764)
  • Subject: Transnational | Social sciences (General) | H1-99 | Nellie Arnott | Social Sciences | Arts and Humanities | H | Missionary Narratives | Angola | American Studies

In their beautifully researched study and critical edition, <em>Nellie Arnott’s Writings on Angola, 1905–1913: Missionary Narratives Linking Africa and America</em> (Parlor Press), authors Sarah Robbins and Ann Ellis Pullen examine in fine detail the historical record of the transnational network of literary work produced by Arnott. Tracing her legacy in the study’s third chapter, “Writing on Multiple Journeys,” the authors argue on behalf of Arnott’s capacity to create authority and celebrity as well as a sense of community among her distant readers, underscoring the powerful and influential role that missionary women’s writing (mimicking to some extent the popular genre of travel writing) played in shaping attitudes at home, not only with regard to race, but also in relation to women’s roles, place, and purpose. Robbins and Pullen display a conscientious resolve not to obscure the inherent contradictions in Arnott’s changing perspectives as they offer a historical narrative based on Arnott’s public and private texts, which also reveal the “consistent inconsistency” in her attitudes and beliefs. Details of and insights into educational practices in missionary schools, including the observation that mothers in the US appreciated the fact that their middle-class Christian children were sharing curriculum with Umbundu children in Angola, invite interesting conclusions about the transnational, transgenerational, and gendered effects of women’s work in the missionary world.
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