Born in 1835 in East Bloomfield, New York, Amanda Theodosia Jones has been described as a teacher, inventor, businesswoman, poet, and Spiritualist. Jones engaged in many intellectual and artistic practices over her lifetime, but her autobiography details how each was informed by the one practice that she considered to be her true calling: her spiritual practice as a psychic medium. Her work as an autobiographer reveals how she attempted to contextualize her achievements and interests to demonstrate how they were unified by the guiding principles of the spirit world. As such, I aim to examine Jones’s practice and self-representation from a rhetorical perspective, considering how, in her autobiography, she accounted for engaging in what were considered strictly male endeavors. I ask: how did Jones use the power of her various practices to render her gender transgressions palatable to a nineteenth-century readership and what role did her spirit controls play in tempering the effect of these transgressions?
American Communal Societies Quarterly