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Seized by the Jerks: Shakers, Spirit Possession & the Great Revival

Professor Douglas Winiarski, Department of Religious Studies, University of Richmond will give a lecture with the following description: "Of the many dramatic embodied religious exercises that spread across the trans-Appalachian frontier and southern backcountry during the Great Revival (1799–1805), none drew more astonished commentary or more virulent opposition than “the jerks”: involuntary convulsions in which the subjects’ heads lashed violently backward and forward. Understudied Shaker manuscripts indicate that the jerks emerged relatively late in the course of the revivals out of a shadowy Scots-Irish world of signs and wonders in eastern Tennessee. Radical Presbyterian “jerkers” fueled the explosive growth of the early Shaker communities in Ohio and Kentucky, and they played a crucial role in the development of the distinctive subculture that scholars have termed Appalachian mountain religion."

Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 6:00pm to 7:15pm
This is a past event.

University Center, 302
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

Event Type

Lectures & Forums


Centers and Institutes, Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life

Target Audience




Event Contact

Jeff Scholes

Event Contact Email



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