Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World

Hardcover | April 15, 2012

byKathleen Lynch

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Autobiographical narrative is seldom viewed as a catalyst for the social and political upheavals of mid-seventeenth-century England and its colonies. Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World argues that it should be. Focusing on the inward search for signs ofelection as a powerful stimulus for new, written forms of self-identification, this study directs critical attention toward the collective processes through which 'truthful' texts of spiritual experience were constructed, validated, and endorsed. This new analysis of the rhetoric of authenticselfhood emphasizes the ways in which personal accounts of religious awakening became another opportunity to conceptualize experience as an authorizing principle. A broad spectrum of Protestant life-writing is explored, from Augustine's Confessions, first translated into English in 1620, through John Bunyan's Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666) and Richard Baxter's Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696). The forms in which these landmark texts werecirculated and the interests that those circulations served are examined in such a way as to put canonical texts back into conversation with the outpouring of individual life writings that dates from the middle of the 17th century on. As the first new historicized account of the seventeenth-centuryProtestant conversion narrative in a generation, Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World contributes to the reintegration of the scholarly fields of literature, religion, and politics. It revitalizes the study of proto-literary forms which, while devotional in nature,were deeply political in their consequences, contributing as they did to the emerging discourse of personal liberties.

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Autobiographical narrative is seldom viewed as a catalyst for the social and political upheavals of mid-seventeenth-century England and its colonies. Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World argues that it should be. Focusing on the inward search for signs ofelection as a powerful stimulus for new, written f...

Kathleen Lynch is Executive Director of the Folger Institute. She has written on the religious literature of the seventeenth century from the perspectives of material culture and the book trade.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.98 inPublished:April 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199643938

ISBN - 13:9780199643936

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsAbbreviations and conventionsList of illustrationsIntroduction: No self is an island: The validations of autobiographical truths1. Any politic body: The polemics of conversion in the 1620s2. Icons basilicae: Civil war and religious identity3. 1653: Experiencing election in a true gospel-church state4. Writing religious identities in Bedford: Exemplary lives in historical perspective5. Beyond the lives of particular menConclusion: Truth and consequencesReferencesIndex