Speaking, Silently Speaking: Thomas Shepard's "Confessions" and the Cultural Impact of Puritan Conversion on Early and Later America

Show full item record

Title: Speaking, Silently Speaking: Thomas Shepard's "Confessions" and the Cultural Impact of Puritan Conversion on Early and Later America
Author: Young, Alexander
Abstract: My dissertation reappraises the Puritan conversion narrative's influence on early and later American literature. It centers around the accounts recorded by the Reverend Thomas Shepard, minister to Cambridge's first church, and looks at how New England's earliest settlers represented their spiritual encounters. My study argues for Puritanism's continued cultural relevance by explaining how the inter-personal, social, and expressive energies that informed Puritan spiritual confession is both sustained and evolves in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Chapter I accounts for the social, historical, and intellectual contexts in which the Puritan conversion narrative took place and outlines the scholarship it has received. Amid this scholarship I offer my analysis in Chapter II, pointing to the performance's formal, doctrinal, and expressive requirements to explain how believers delivered successful narratives and how they pushed the bounds of the religious doctrine that informed their accounts. Chapter III re-imagines the experience of Puritan conversion. It considers the performance from an affective framework and argues that the ambivalence endemic to spiritual assurance provoked in believers a psychogenic and narratological discord that promoted a form of self-understanding in which believers were unsure of themselves even as their spiritual communities were certain that their conversions were complete. Chapter III concludes by assessing the literary consequences of this relationship with reference to Benjamin Franklin's
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/12337
Date: 2012


Files in this item

Files Size Format View
Young_oregon_0171A_10308.pdf 1.080Mb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record