Contributor: Prof. Dr. emer. Cornelia Niekus Moore, University of Hawaii
Augusta Elisabeth, Freiin von Posadowsky (1715-1739) was born in Braunschweig, where her father was on a mission for the Duchy of Magdeburg. She died in Magdeburg at the age of 24. At the time of her death, she was already an accomplished poet, with several publications of religious poetry to her name. The funeral work (Leichenpredigt) composed by Christoph Sucro contains some of that poetry, plus an extensive biographical description of her path toward rebirth with its highs and lows. Somewhat later (1741), an even more extensive biography appeared in one of the prevalent religious journals of the day,Verbesserte Sammlung Auserlesener Materien zum Bau des Reiches Gottes followed by a publication of that biography in book form and then by the publication of her complete works Geistliche Gedichte by Johann Adam Steinmetz, Abbot of Kloster Berge in Magdeburg, who had also been her spiritual advisor.
I am interested in, and would like to plot in my presentation, what her biographers tried to emphasize in Augusta Elisabeth‘s path toward rebirth. Why did they consider this woman‘s life and works exemplary enough to publish several biographies, and her complete works. What does this say about the concept of pious women and of women authors in eighteenth-century Magdeburg. My second interest concerns the poetry itself, namely, how did the poetry function in this process of rebirth. I would like to point out how the poetry was both an expression of her pilgrim‘s progress and an instrument in obtaining the cherished goal of rebirth.