The American Jeremiad
Publication Year: 2012
When Sacvan Bercovitch’s The American Jeremiad first appeared in 1978, it was hailed as a landmark study of dissent and cultural formation in America, from the Puritans’ writings through the major literary works of the antebellum era. For this long-awaited anniversary edition, Bercovitch has written a deeply thoughtful and challenging new preface that reflects on his classic study of the role of the political sermon, or jeremiad, in America from a contemporary perspective, while assessing developments in the field of American studies and the culture at large.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, Copyright
Preface to the 2012 Edition
This new preface comes as a challenge as well as a privilege. The American Jeremiad was in many ways a product of the radical sixties and seventies. Now that the protest has borne fruit—students’ rights in the universities, women’s rights in the workplace, gay rights in ...
Preface to the 1978 Edition
Rhetoric functions within a culture. It reflects and affects a set of particular psychic, social, and historical needs. This is conspicuously true of the American jeremiad, a mode of public exhortation that originated in the European pulpit ...
1. Introduction: The Puritan Errand Reassessed
On board the Arbella, on the Atlantic Ocean, John Winthrop set forth the prospects of the infant theocracy* in a provisional but sweeping prophecy of doom. The passengers were entering into covenant with God, as into a marriage bond - and therefore, ...
2. The Blessings of Time and Eternity
Considered in Plinlimmon's perspective, the term jeremiad is an apt one. Jeremiah is at once a historian of horologicals and a chronometer of the future; he both laments an apostasy and heralds a restoration. In Hebrew tradition this dual function is something of a ...
3. The Genetics of Salvation
The American jeremiad was born in an effort to impose metaphor upon reality. It was nourished by an imagination at once defiant of history and profoundly attuned to the historical forces that were shaping the community. And in this dual capacity it blossomed with ...
4. The Typology of America’s Mission
The Puritan jeremiad set out the sacred history of the New World; the eighteenth-century jeremiad established the typology of America's mission. That outlook, to be sure, had become almost explicit by the last decades of the seventeenth century. But the Puritans were ...
5. Ritual of Consensus
By all accounts, the jeremiad played a central role in the war of independence, and the war in turn confirmed the jeremiad as a national ritual. The Whig sermons and tracts express a rite of passage into nationhood, an official coming-of-age ceremony, which had ...
6. Epilogue: The Symbol of America
The ritual of the jeremiad bespeaks an ideological consensus - in moral, religious, economic, social, and intellectual matters - unmatched in any other modern culture. And the power of consensus is nowhere more evident than in the symboIic meaning that the ...
Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Studies in American Thought and Culture
Series Editor Byline: Paul S. Boyer, Series Editor