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Escaped NunsTrue Womanhood and the Campaign Against Convents in Antebellum America$
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Cassandra L. Yacovazzi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190881009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190881009.001.0001

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Solving a Problem Like Maria: Imagining Sisters from Maria Monk to Nunsense

(p.143) Epilogue
Escaped Nuns

Cassandra L. Yacovazzi

Oxford University Press

Nuns in popular media today are a staple of kitsch culture, evident in the common appearance of bobble-head nuns, nun costumes, and nun caricatures on TV, movies, and the stage. Nun stereotypes include the sexy vixen, the naïve innocent, and the scary nun. These types were forged in nineteenth-century convent narratives. While people today may not recognize the name “Maria Monk,” her legacy lives on in the public imagination. There may be no demands to search convents, but nuns and monastic life are nevertheless generally not taken seriously. This epilogue traces opposition to nuns from the Civil War to the present, analyzing the various images of nuns in popular culture as they relate to the antebellum campaign against convents. It argues that the source of the misunderstanding about nuns is rooted in the inability to categorize these women either as traditional wives and mothers or as secular, career-driven singles.

Keywords:   nun kitsch culture, late-night catechism, scary nun, sexy nun, Edith O’Gorman, Ku Klux Klan, Sound of Music, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Awful Disclosures, The Flying Nun

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