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John Wesley, Superstar: Periodicity, Celebrity, And The Sensibility Of Methodist Society In Wesley’s Journal (1740–91)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers how Wesley's serially-published Journal cultivated the evangelist's celebrity as the symbolic embodiment of Methodism in England, enabling early Methodists to identify themselves individually and collectively as constituting a movement of social and cultural, not just religious, proportions. The Journal operated as the sort of text it explicitly purported to be, a periodical, a work of journalism in the manner of an organizational newsletter. The common sense embodied in the Journal became a distinguishing feature of Methodist society within the bourgeois public sphere of the eighteenth century. Because the Journal was an integral component of Wesley's evangelical mission, it can also be held responsible along with the other aspects of the evangelist's ministry for Methodism's troubled social and cultural legacy, which became apparent in the decades immediately after Wesley's death, if not before.

Keywords: celebrity; cultural legacy; eighteenth century; evangelical mission; John Wesley; methodist society; Wesley's Journal



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