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Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England: Book by Abram Van Engen

Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England

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ISBN: 9780199379637    Publisher: Oxford University Press Year of publishing: 2015     Format:  Hardback No of Pages: 328        Language: English
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,...Read more
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 presented sentimentalism 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. In contrast, Van Engen's work unearths the pervasive presence of sympathy in a large archive of Puritan sermons, treatises, tracts, poems, journals, histories, and captivity narratives. Sympathetic Puritans also 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) - pervaded Puritan society and came to define the very boundaries of English culture, affecting conceptions of community, relations with Native Americans, and the development of American literature.
By analyzing Puritan theology, preaching, prose, and poetry, 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 in seventeenth-century New England, the book reveals the religious history of a concept that has largely been associated with more secular roots.
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About the author: Abram Van Engen
Abram C. Van Engen is Assistant Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Review:
Focusing on the importance of the affection that bound Puritans together, Abram Van Engen illuminates an important and yet neglected aspect of the society that speaks primarily not to formal ideas...Read more
Focusing on the importance of the affection that bound Puritans together, Abram Van Engen illuminates an important and yet neglected aspect of the society that speaks primarily not to formal ideas but to how Puritanism was lived in the families, churches, and towns of colonial New England. Francis J. Bremer, author of Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, a Puritan in Three Worlds Van Engen focuses on fellow feeling as both a defining feature of seventeenth-century Puritanism and a precursor to forms of sympathy better known in later literature. In so doing, he offers a challenging interpretation of the motivations of New England colonists. Sympathetic Puritans does not ask us to empathize with the likes of John Winthrop or Mary Rowlandson, but it does demand that we consider them and our enduring connections to them in a new light. Kristina Bross, Associate Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University 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
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