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Prophetic Peril - The Rhetoric of Nineteenth-Century African American Prophetic-Call Narratives

Prophetic Peril

The Rhetoric of Nineteenth-Century African American Prophetic-Call Narratives

By Thomas M. Fuerst
Series: Race, Rhetoric, and Media Series

Hardcover : 9781496855442, 160 pages, February 2025
Paperback : 9781496855435, 160 pages, February 2025
Expected to ship: 2025-02-17
Expected to ship: 2025-02-17

A study of the call narrative storytelling tradition centered on four influential Black leaders


Prophecy reimagines the world. It critiques what is and encourages its audience to imagine what could be. All prophecy, therefore, begins with a person willing to reimagine their own situation. In the biblical and African American traditions, this person receives a “call” to prophetic ministry that upends their reality and compels them to change the way things are. Prophetic Peril: The Rhetoric of Nineteenth-Century African American Prophetic-Call Narratives invites readers into the imaginative, subversive, and ethically complicated stories of four nineteenth-century Black figures who received the call to challenge the what is and live into the what could be in the midst of a hard-hearted world.

Focusing on the prophetic-call narratives of Maria Stewart, Nat Turner, Julia Foote, and Richard Allen, author Thomas M. Fuerst offers insight into the unique contributions this tradition makes to American oratory, storytelling, history, ethics, theology, and protest. As Fuerst demonstrates, Turner’s call narrative subverts white, political interests and expands politics to include the resistance rhetoric and witness of those on the margins. Allen’s apologetic narration combines deeply thoughtful Protestant exegesis with a liberation theology shaped by the experience of enslavement, anchoring his rhetorical power in the experience of Black people in the nineteenth century. The call narratives of Stewart and Foote circumvent patriarchy and resist patriarchal interpretations of the Bible through biblical, embodied, dramatic, visionary appeals that sidestep persuasion and demand either acceptance or rejection. Taken together, these case studies reveal how antebellum Black preachers used religious storytelling to resist white, patriarchal oppression and assert their own voices, offering unique insight to our understanding of prophecy and resistance.