Gender issues in contemporary sermons

  • Christine Bainton

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The purpose of this research was to examine gender issues in contemporary sermons. My sample consists of sermons delivered on BBC Radio 4 as part of acts of worship broadcast during 1993-4 which were examined to analyse how language, gender and power intersect to produce these discourses. In order to contextualize this material, chapter one focuses on the history of the sermon and its institutionalisation. Chapter two analyses the preachers’ use of generic terms and their use of the second person plural mode of address. In chapter three, I examine the gendered illustrations offered in the sermon sample in order to investigate how they contribute to create alienating and exclusionary discourses. Chapter four deals with the ways in which self-disclosure and the use of personal experience provide a means by which knowledge can be assimilated and transferred to others as well as acting as an inclusive mechanism in preaching. In chapter five, I demonstrate that metaphors have the potential to function as an inclusive device but that this influence may be negated if the gender content of the metaphor conveys gender-biases. Chapter six centres on the form and structure of the sermons as a way of considering the issue of a participatory address. The conclusion focuses on the way in which aspects of the notions of inclusive language intersect with the ways in which authority is traditionally defined. This thesis demonstrates that contemporary broadcast sermons do not endeavour to reflect the demands for inclusive language or less authoritarian discourses which have been made by feminists and advocated by most denominations in the Christian churches
    Date of Award1998
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorGabrielle Griffin (Supervisor)

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