Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England

Hardcover | March 11, 2015

byAbram Van Engen

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Revising dominant accounts of Puritanism and challenging the literary history of sentimentalism, Sympathetic Puritans argues that a Calvinist theology of sympathy shaped the politics, religion, rhetoric, and literature of early New England. Scholars have often understood and presentedsentimentalism as a direct challenge to stern and stoic Puritan forebears; the standard history traces a cult of sensibility back to moral sense philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment, not Puritan New England. Abram C. Van Engen has unearthed pervasive evidence of sympathy in a large archive ofPuritan sermons, treatises, tracts, poems, journals, histories, and captivity narratives. He demonstrates how two types of sympathy - the active command to fellow-feel (a duty), as well as the passive sign that could indicate salvation (a discovery) - permeated Puritan society and came to define thevery boundaries of English culture, affecting conceptions of community, relations with Native Americans, and the development of American literature.Van Engen re-examines the Antinomian Controversy, conversion narratives, transatlantic relations, Puritan missions, Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative - and Puritan culture more generally - through the lens of sympathy. Demonstrating and explicating a Calvinist theology of sympathy inseventeenth-century New England, the book reveals the religious history of a concept that has previously been associated with more secular roots.

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Revising dominant accounts of Puritanism and challenging the literary history of sentimentalism, Sympathetic Puritans argues that a Calvinist theology of sympathy shaped the politics, religion, rhetoric, and literature of early New England. Scholars have often understood and presentedsentimentalism as a direct challenge to stern and st...

Abram C. Van Engen is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, where he researches and teaches early American literature, history, and culture. Van Engen received his Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University in 2010, earning the Hagstrum Prize for best dissertation in English.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:328 pages, 9.29 × 6.42 × 1.18 inPublished:March 11, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199379637

ISBN - 13:9780199379637

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Puritan Sympathy2. Love of the Brethren and the Antinomian Controversy3. Sympathy, Persuasion, and Seduction4. Transatlantic Relations and the Rhetoric of Sympathy5. Sympathy, Sincerity, and Sentimental Technique6. Bewildered SympathyConclusion: Transformation and Continuity at the End of the CenturyNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"An immensely rewarding book that alters our understanding of a canonical text and fills out the intellectual history of early New England." --David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School