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The art of the public grovel : sexual sin and public confession in America /
Susan Wise Bauer.
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2008.
description
x, 337 p. : ill.
ISBN
9780691138107 (hardcover : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2008.
isbn
9780691138107 (hardcover : alk. paper)
contents note
Grover the good, Belshazzar Blaine, and the rapacious woman -- In the presence of the elect (with the world looking on) -- Aimee Semple McPherson and the devil -- Confession goes public -- Ted Kennedy misreads his public -- Jimmy Carter, traitor to the cause -- Jim Bakker shoots his allies -- Jimmy Swaggart's model confession -- Clinton and the three public confessions -- Unaware of change -- Conclusion: Predictions.
catalogue key
6536459
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
PSP Prose Awards, USA, 2008 : Nominated
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Interesting, well-written, and well-researched, this book should have wide appeal. Who doesn't want to read about sex and confession and how the mighty fall and, in some cases, get up again?"--Stephen Prothero, author ofReligious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--and Doesn't "This very fine book will enrich and deepen the conversation about religion and public life in America. Bauer writes clearly and vividly and she balances good storytelling with sound scholarship."--Alan Jacobs, author ofOriginal Sin: A Cultural History
Flap Copy
"Interesting, well-written, and well-researched, this book should have wide appeal. Who doesn't want to read about sex and confession and how the mighty fall and, in some cases, get up again?"--Stephen Prothero, author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--and Doesn't "This very fine book will enrich and deepen the conversation about religion and public life in America. Bauer writes clearly and vividly and she balances good storytelling with sound scholarship."--Alan Jacobs, author of Original Sin: A Cultural History
Flap Copy
"Interesting, well-written, and well-researched, this book should have wide appeal. Who doesn't want to read about sex and confession and how the mighty fall and, in some cases, get up again?"--Stephen Prothero, author ofReligious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--and Doesn't"This very fine book will enrich and deepen the conversation about religion and public life in America. Bauer writes clearly and vividly and she balances good storytelling with sound scholarship."--Alan Jacobs, author ofOriginal Sin: A Cultural History
Flap Copy
"Interesting, well-written, and well-researched, this book should have wide appeal. Who doesnt want to read about sex and confession and how the mighty fall and, in some cases, get up again?"-- Stephen Prothero, author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--and Doesnt "This very fine book will enrich and deepen the conversation about religion and public life in America. Bauer writes clearly and vividly and she balances good storytelling with sound scholarship."-- Alan Jacobs, author of Original Sin: A Cultural History
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-09-01:
Why do some public figures get away with sexual transgressions (e.g., Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggert, David Vitter, Ted Haggard) while others do not (e.g., Edward Kennedy, Jim Bakker, Cardinal Bernard Law, Mark Foley, Eliot Spitzer)? This is the central question posed in Bauer's important and informative book. Bauer (English, College of William and Mary) maintains that "Public confession has become the most powerful means by which leaders [political and nonpolitical] acknowledge the power of their followers." She supports this claim with a series of mostly contemporary case studies illustrating the transition of confession from a private act to a public ritual; she also explains why some confessions succeed while others fail. Despite some shoddy editing--misspellings, typos, and punctuation problems--Bauer has written a fascinating book that is at once entertaining and thought-provoking. As a seminar in how to cringe with dignity, this book should be required reading for all public figures--and those who aspire to be. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. E. C. Dreyer emeritus, University of Tulsa
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-10-15:
Bauer (The History of the Ancient World) has revised her recent American studies Ph.D. dissertation into this readable book. Traced here are the history of the confession of sexual sins of well-known politicians and religious leaders, from Grover Cleveland, who was elected President for his first term after he refused to acknowledge his sexual wrongdoing and his child out of wedlock, to President Clinton's having the highest approval rating of any outgoing President after his very public but carefully tailored confession, which made him appear more sinned against than sinning. Noting the spectrum from utter silence to wordy, involuted denials of memory and circular definition on the part of alleged wrongdoers, the book reveals how the public comes to sympathize with some and not with others; Aimee Semple McPherson, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Jim Bakker did not manage this art of public confession well, where they sought to morph into victims and be seen on the side of good, while Jimmy Swaggart managed a first scandal confession so well that President Clinton used it as his model. Helpfully, six appendixes make conveniently available the confession texts that Bauer references. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Carolyn M. Craft, emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
[A] canny analysis of American political symbolism.
"[A] canny analysis of American political symbolism."-- Laura Miller, Salon.com
[A] canny analysis of American political symbolism. -- Laura Miller, Salon.com
[A]n engaging, sophisticated and wholly persuasive account of how some public figures get away with transgressions and some do not. And the thread linking all of them is the practice of religion. [Bauer's] accompanying texts of successful and failed confessions complete an elegant study, also useful for any aspiring public figure.
"[A]n engaging, sophisticated and wholly persuasive account of how some public figures get away with transgressions and some do not. And the thread linking all of them is the practice of religion. [Bauers] accompanying texts of successful and failed confessions complete an elegant study, also useful for any aspiring public figure."-- Jurek Martin, Financial Times
[A]n engaging, sophisticated and wholly persuasive account of how some public figures get away with transgressions and some do not. And the thread linking all of them is the practice of religion. [Bauer's] accompanying texts of successful and failed confessions complete an elegant study, also useful for any aspiring public figure. -- Jurek Martin, Financial Times
As a bonus, Bauer append the texts of statements by six confessors. Connoisseurs of venial sin will want to compare and contrast.
"As a bonus, Bauer append the texts of statements by six confessors. Connoisseurs of venial sin will want to compare and contrast."-- James Boylan, Columbia Journalism Review
As a bonus, Bauer append the texts of statements by six confessors. Connoisseurs of venial sin will want to compare and contrast. -- James Boylan, Columbia Journalism Review
[A] very entertaining book. Reading this book is like putting the noses of these famous men . . . in the mud all over again. Bauer's book, however, is more than a seminar in how to cringe with dignity. It is a lesson in how religious rituals, no matter how old they are, never die. Bauer is a skilled analyst of political rhetoric. She is also a terrific writer.
"[A] very entertaining book. Reading this book is like putting the noses of these famous men . . . in the mud all over again. Bauer's book, however, is more than a seminar in how to cringe with dignity. It is a lesson in how religious rituals, no matter how old they are, never die. Bauer is a skilled analyst of political rhetoric. She is also a terrific writer."-- Stephen H. Webb, Christianity Today
[A] very entertaining book. Reading this book is like putting the noses of these famous men . . . in the mud all over again. Bauer's book, however, is more than a seminar in how to cringe with dignity. It is a lesson in how religious rituals, no matter how old they are, never die. Bauer is a skilled analyst of political rhetoric. She is also a terrific writer. -- Stephen H. Webb, Christianity Today
Bauer's gallery of scoundrels is . . . worth a lingering visit. And the book includes as an appendix a handy collection of the confessions and apologies of Kennedy, Carter, Bakker, Swaggart, Clinton, and Law. For this alone, I intend to keep my copy on the shelf beside my hardbound edition of The Confidence Man .
Bauer's gallery of scoundrels is . . . worth a lingering visit. And the book includes as an appendix a handy collection of the confessions and apologies of Kennedy, Carter, Bakker, Swaggart, Clinton, and Law. For this alone, I intend to keep my copy on the shelf beside my hardbound edition ofThe Confidence Man.
"Bauer's gallery of scoundrels is . . . worth a lingering visit. And the book includes as an appendix a handy collection of the confessions and apologies of Kennedy, Carter, Bakker, Swaggart, Clinton, and Law. For this alone, I intend to keep my copy on the shelf beside my hardbound edition of The Confidence Man ."-- Peter W. Wood, American Conservative
Bauer's gallery of scoundrels is . . . worth a lingering visit. And the book includes as an appendix a handy collection of the confessions and apologies of Kennedy, Carter, Bakker, Swaggart, Clinton, and Law. For this alone, I intend to keep my copy on the shelf beside my hardbound edition of The Confidence Man . -- Peter W. Wood, American Conservative
Bauer's gallery of scoundrels is . . . worth a lingering visit. And the book includes as an appendix a handy collection of the confessions and apologies of Kennedy, Carter, Bakker, Swaggart, Clinton, and Law. For this alone, I intend to keep my copy on the shelf beside my hardbound edition ofThe Confidence Man. -- Peter W. Wood, American Conservative
[E]legant in its simplicity and surprisingly persuasive.
"[E]legant in its simplicity and surprisingly persuasive."-- Susan Bordo, Chronicle Review
[E]legant in its simplicity and surprisingly persuasive. -- Susan Bordo, Chronicle Review
Honorable Mention for the 2008 PROSE Award in Media and Cultural Studies, Association of American Publishers
People interested in the reasons why confession is different than apology, and how to tell the difference the next time a Senator is caught in a men's room with a 'wide stance' will enjoy this humorous and fascinating book. Wannabe politicians and public figures should keep a copy for reference on hand for the almost inevitable slip up.
"People interested in the reasons why confession is different than apology, and how to tell the difference the next time a Senator is caught in a men's room with a 'wide stance' will enjoy this humorous and fascinating book. Wannabe politicians and public figures should keep a copy for reference on hand for the almost inevitable slip up."-- Sacramento Book Review
People interested in the reasons why confession is different than apology, and how to tell the difference the next time a Senator is caught in a men's room with a 'wide stance' will enjoy this humorous and fascinating book. Wannabe politicians and public figures should keep a copy for reference on hand for the almost inevitable slip up. -- Sacramento Book Review
[T]his exhaustively researched book offers a fascinating trip through more than a century of America's top sex scandals.
"[T]his exhaustively researched book offers a fascinating trip through more than a century of Americas top sex scandals."-- Karen Holt, Barnes & Noble Review
[T]his exhaustively researched book offers a fascinating trip through more than a century of America's top sex scandals. -- Karen Holt, Barnes & Noble Review
Why do some public figures get away with sexual transgressions while others do not? This is the central question posed in Bauer's important and informative book. . . . [A] fascinating book that is at once entertaining and thought-provoking. As a seminar in how to cringe with dignity, this book should be required reading for all public figures--and those who aspire to be.
"Why do some public figures get away with sexual transgressions while others do not? This is the central question posed in Bauer's important and informative book. . . . [A] fascinating book that is at once entertaining and thought-provoking. As a seminar in how to cringe with dignity, this book should be required reading for all public figures--and those who aspire to be."-- Choice
Why do some public figures get away with sexual transgressions while others do not? This is the central question posed in Bauer's important and informative book. . . . [A] fascinating book that is at once entertaining and thought-provoking. As a seminar in how to cringe with dignity, this book should be required reading for all public figures--and those who aspire to be. -- Choice
Wise Bauer's analysis and background make for lively reading. As readers go along with her, they learn something about both rhetoric and democracy itself. . . . Besides its study of rhetoric and cultural trends, Wise Bauer's book also supplies a rather hilarious review of past scandals and shenanigans. Members of First Secular Humanist will enjoy these.
"Wise Bauer's analysis and background make for lively reading. As readers go along with her, they learn something about both rhetoric and democracy itself. . . . Besides its study of rhetoric and cultural trends, Wise Bauer's book also supplies a rather hilarious review of past scandals and shenanigans. Members of First Secular Humanist will enjoy these."-- Tom McBride, Common Review
Wise Bauer's analysis and background make for lively reading. As readers go along with her, they learn something about both rhetoric and democracy itself. . . . Besides its study of rhetoric and cultural trends, Wise Bauer's book also supplies a rather hilarious review of past scandals and shenanigans. Members of First Secular Humanist will enjoy these. -- Tom McBride, Common Review
Interesting, well-written, and well-researched, this book should have wide appeal. Who doesn't want to read about sex and confession and how the mighty fall and, in some cases, get up again?
This very fine book will enrich and deepen the conversation about religion and public life in America. Bauer writes clearly and vividly and she balances good storytelling with sound scholarship.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, October 2008
Choice, September 2009
Washington Post, December 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Revealing the rhetoric, theology, and history that lie behind every successful public plea for forgiveness, this book will interest anyone who has ever wondered why Clinton is still popular while Bakker fell out of the public view, Ted Kennedy never got to be president, and Law moved to Rome.
Main Description
Whether you are a politician caught carrying on with an intern or a minister photographed with a prostitute, discovery does not necessarily spell the end of your public career. Admit your sins carefully, using the essential elements of an evangelical confession identified by Susan Wise Bauer inThe Art of the Public Grovel, and you, like Bill Clinton, just might survive. In this fascinating and important history of public confession in modern America, Bauer explains why and how a type of confession that first arose among nineteenth-century evangelicals has today become the required form for any successful public admission of wrongdoing--even when the wrongdoer has no connection with evangelicalism and the context is thoroughly secular. She shows how Protestant revivalism, group psychotherapy, and the advent of talk TV combined to turn evangelical-style confession into a mainstream secular rite. Those who master the form--Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart, David Vitter, and Ted Haggard--have a chance of surviving and even thriving, while those who don't--Ted Kennedy, Jim Bakker, Cardinal Bernard Law, Mark Foley, and Eliot Spitzer--will never really recover. Revealing the rhetoric, theology, and history that lie behind every successful public plea for forgiveness,The Art of the Public Grovelwill interest anyone who has ever wondered why Clinton is still popular while Bakker fell out of public view, Ted Kennedy never got to be president, and Law moved to Rome.
Main Description
Whether you are a politician caught carrying on with an intern or a minister photographed with a prostitute, discovery does not necessarily spell the end of your public career. Admit your sins carefully, using the essential elements of an evangelical confession identified by Susan Wise Bauer in The Art of the Public Grovel , and you, like Bill Clinton, just might survive. In this fascinating and important history of public confession in modern America, Bauer explains why and how a type of confession that first arose among nineteenth-century evangelicals has today become the required form for any successful public admission of wrongdoing--even when the wrongdoer has no connection with evangelicalism and the context is thoroughly secular. She shows how Protestant revivalism, group psychotherapy, and the advent of talk TV combined to turn evangelical-style confession into a mainstream secular rite. Those who master the form--Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart, David Vitter, and Ted Haggard--have a chance of surviving and even thriving, while those who don't--Ted Kennedy, Jim Bakker, Cardinal Bernard Law, Mark Foley, and Eliot Spitzer--will never really recover. Revealing the rhetoric, theology, and history that lie behind every successful public plea for forgiveness, The Art of the Public Grovel will interest anyone who has ever wondered why Clinton is still popular while Bakker fell out of public view, Ted Kennedy never got to be president, and Law moved to Rome.
Main Description
Whether you are a politician caught carrying on with an intern or a minister photographed with a prostitute, discovery does not necessarily spell the end of your public career. Admit your sins carefully, using the essential elements of an evangelical confession identified by Susan Wise Bauer inThe Art of the Public Grovel, and you, like Bill Clinton, just might survive.In this fascinating and important history of public confession in modern America, Bauer explains why and how a type of confession that first arose among nineteenth-century evangelicals has today become the required form for any successful public admission of wrongdoing--even when the wrongdoer has no connection with evangelicalism and the context is thoroughly secular. She shows how Protestant revivalism, group psychotherapy, and the advent of talk TV combined to turn evangelical-style confession into a mainstream secular rite. Those who master the form--Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart, David Vitter, and Ted Haggard--have a chance of surviving and even thriving, while those who don't--Ted Kennedy, Jim Bakker, Cardinal Bernard Law, Mark Foley, and Eliot Spitzer--will never really recover.Revealing the rhetoric, theology, and history that lie behind every successful public plea for forgiveness,The Art of the Public Grovelwill interest anyone who has ever wondered why Clinton is still popular while Bakker fell out of public view, Ted Kennedy never got to be president, and Law moved to Rome.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. vii
Acknowledgementsp. xi
Introduction: From Private to Public Confessionp. 1
The Shift toward Public Confession
Grover the Good, Belshazzar Blaine, and the Rapacious Womanp. 11
In the Presence of the Elect (With the World Looking On)p. 22
Aimee Sample McPherson and the Devilp. 38
Confession Goes Publicp. 56
Ted Kennedy Misreads His Publicp. 76
The Age of Public Confession
Jimmy Carter, Traitor to the Causep. 97
Jim Bakker Shoots His Alliesp. 115
Jimmy Swaggart's Model Confessionp. 143
Clinton and the Three Public Confessionsp. 152
Unaware of Changep. 183
Conclusion: Predictionsp. 207
The Texts of the Confessions
Edward Kennedy's Confessionp. 221
Jimmy Carter's Confession of "Lust in My Heart"p. 225
Jim Bakker's Original Confessionp. 228
Jimmy Swaggart's Sermon of Confessionp. 235
President Clinton's Statements and Confessionsp. 240
Bernard Law's Apologiesp. 265
Notesp. 287
Works Citedp. 315
Permissions for the Textsp. 323
Indexp. 325
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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