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Puritan American writers faced a dilemma: they had an obligation to use language as a celebration of divine artistry, but they could not allow their writing to become an iconic graven image of authorial self-idolatry. In this study William Scheick explores one way in which William Bradford, Nathaniel Ward, Anne Bradstreet, Urian Oakes, Edward Taylor, and Jonathan Edwards mediated these conflicting imperatives. They did so, he argues, by creating moments in their works when they and their audience could hesitate and contemplate the central paradox of language: its capacity to intimate both concealed authorial pride and latent deific design. These ambiguous occasions served Puritan writers as places where the threat of divine wrath and the promise of divine mercy intersected in unresolved tension.
By the nineteenth century the heritage of this Christlike mingling of temporal connotation and eternal denotation had mutated. A peculiar late eighteenth-century narrative by Nathan Fiske and a short story by Edward Bellamy both suggest that the binary nature of language exploited by their Puritan ancestors was still a vital authorial concern; but neither of these writers affirms the presence of an eternal denotative signification hidden within the conflicting historical contexts of their apparently allegorical language. For them, appreciation of the mystery of a divine revelation possibly concealed in words yielded to puzzlement over language itself, specifically over the inadequacy of language to signify more than its own instability of design.
This book is a tightly focused study of an important aspect of Puritan American writers' use of language by one of the leading scholars in the field of early American literature.
John Adams, Toussaint Louverture, and Their Atlantic World Alliance
The Growth of Free Speech in Early America
Historians often rely on a handful of unusual cases to illustrate the absence of free speech in the colonies—such as that of Richard Barnes, who had his arms broken and a hole bored through his tongue for seditious words against the governor of Virginia. In this definitive and accessible work, Larry Eldridge convincingly debunks this view by revealing surprising evidence of free speech in early America.
Using the court records of every American colony that existed before 1700 and an analysis of over 1,200 seditious speech cases sifted from those records, A Distant Heritage shows how colonists experienced a dramatic expansion during the seventeenth century of their freedom to criticize government and its officials. Exploring important changes in the roles of juries and appeals, the nature of prosecution and punishment, and the pattern of growing leniency, Eldridge also shows us why this expansion occurred when it did. He concludes that the ironic combination of tumult and destabilization on the one hand, and steady growth and development on the other, made colonists more willing to criticize authority openly and officials less able to prevent it. That, in turn, established a foundation for the more celebrated flowering of colonial dissent against English authority in the eighteenth century.
Steeped in primary sources and richly narrated, this is an invaluable addition to the library of anyone interested in legal history, colonial America, or the birth of free speech in the United States.
After his 1728 Virginia-North Carolina boundary expedition, Virginia planter and politician William Byrd II composed two very different accounts of his adventures. The Secret History of the Line was written for private circulation, offering tales of scandalous behavior and political misconduct, peppered with rakish humor and personal satire. The History of the Dividing Line, continually revised by Byrd for decades after the expedition, was intended for the London literary market, though not published in his lifetime. Collating all extant manuscripts, Kevin Joel Berland's landmark scholarly edition of these two histories provides wide-ranging historical and cultural contexts for both, helping to recreate the social and intellectual ethos of Byrd and his time.
Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title
Among his many accomplishments, Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in founding the first major civilian hospital and medical school and in the American colonies. He studied the efficacy of smallpox inoculation and investigated the causes of the common cold. His inventions—including bifocal lenses and a "long arm" that extended the user's reach—made life easier for the aged and afflicted. In Doctor Franklin's Medicine, Stanley Finger uncovers the instrumental role that this scientist, inventor, publisher, and statesman played in the development of the healing arts—enhancing preventive and bedside medicine, hospital care, and even personal hygiene in ways that changed the face of medical care in both America and Europe.
As Finger shows, Franklin approached medicine in the spirit of the Enlightenment and with the mindset of an experimental natural philosopher, seeking cures for diseases and methods of alleviating symptoms of illnesses. He was one of the first people to try to use electrical shocks to help treat paralytic strokes and hysteria, and even suggested applying shocks to the head to treat depressive disorders. He also strove to topple one of the greatest fads in eighteenth-century medicine: mesmerism.
Doctor Franklin's Medicine looks at these and the many other contributions that Franklin made to the progress of medical knowledge, including a look at how Franklin approached his own chronic illnesses of painful gout and a large bladder stone. Written in accessible prose and filled with new information on the breadth of Franklin's interests and activities, Doctor Franklin's Medicine reveals the impressive medical legacy of this Founding Father.
Indians, Colonists, and the Seventeenth Century
From angels to demonic specters, astonishing visions to devilish terrors, dreams inspired, challenged, and soothed the men and women of seventeenth-century New England. English colonists considered dreams to be fraught messages sent by nature, God, or the Devil; Indians of the region often welcomed dreams as events of tremendous significance. Whether the inspirational vision of an Indian sachem or the nightmare of a Boston magistrate, dreams were treated with respect and care by individuals and their communities. Dreams offered entry to "invisible worlds" that contained vital knowledge not accessible by other means and were viewed as an important source of guidance in the face of war, displacement, shifts in religious thought, and intercultural conflict.
Utilizing firsthand accounts of dreams as well as evolving social interpretations of them, Dreams and the Invisible World in Colonial New England explores these little-known aspects of colonial life as a key part of intercultural contact. With themes touching on race, gender, emotions, and interior life, this book reveals the nighttime visions of both colonists and Indians. Ann Marie Plane examines beliefs about faith, providence, power, and the unpredictability of daily life to analyze both the dreams themselves and the act of dream reporting. Through keen analysis of the spiritual and cosmological elements of the early modern world, Plane fills in a critical dimension of the emotional and psychological experience of colonialism.
Maps were at the heart of cultural life in the Americas from before colonization to the formation of modern nation-states. The fourteen essays in Early American Cartographies examine indigenous and European peoples' creation and use of maps to better represent and understand the world they inhabited.
Drawing from both current historical interpretations and new interdisciplinary perspectives, this collection provides diverse approaches to understanding the multilayered exchanges that went into creating cartographic knowledge in and about the Americas. In the introduction, editor Martin Bruckner provides a critical assessment of the concept of cartography and of the historiography of maps. The individual essays, then, range widely over space and place, from the imperial reach of Iberian and British cartography to indigenous conceptualizations, including "dirty," ephemeral maps and star charts, to demonstrate that pre-nineteenth-century American cartography was at once a multiform and multicultural affair.
This volume not only highlights the collaborative genesis of cartographic knowledge about the early Americas; the essays also bring to light original archives and innovative methodologies for investigating spatial relations among peoples in the western hemisphere. Taken together, the authors reveal the roles of early American cartographies in shaping popular notions of national space, informing visual perception, animating literary imagination, and structuring the political history of Anglo- and Ibero-America.
The contributors are:
Martin Bruckner, University of Delaware
Michael J. Drexler, Bucknell University
Matthew H. Edney, University of Southern Maine
Jess Edwards, Manchester Metropolitan University
Junia Ferreira Furtado, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
William Gustav Gartner, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Gavin Hollis, Hunter College of the City University of New York
Scott Lehman, independent scholar
Ken MacMillan, University of Calgary
Barbara E. Mundy, Fordham University
Andrew Newman, Stony Brook University
Ricardo Padron, University of Virginia
Judith Ridner, Mississippi State University
Native Americans and Europeans in New England. From the Papers of W. Sears Nickerson
Early Encounters contains a selection of nineteen essays from the papers of prominent New England historian, antiquarian, and genealogist Warren Sears Nickerson (1880-1966). This extensive study of his own family ties to the Mayflower, and his exhaustive investigation of the first contacts between Europeans and Native Americans, in what is today New England, made him an unquestioned authority in both fields.
The research upon which the text of Early Encounters is based occurred between the 1920s and the 1950s. Each of Nickerson’s works included in this carefully edited volume is placed in its context by Delores Bird Carpenter; she provides the reader with a wealth of useful background information about each essay’s origin, as well as Nickerson’s reasons for undertaking the research. Material is arranged thematically: the arrival of the Mayflower; conflicts between Europeans and Native Americans; and other topics related to the history and legends of early European settlement on Cape Cod. Early Encounters is a thoughtfully researched, readable book that presents a rich and varied account of life in colonial New England.
Reconsidering the Old Dominion
By highlighting emerging scholarship on neglected topics, this collection of original essays begins to rewrite the history of Virginia, the colonial Chesapeake, and early America, while setting a research agenda for the next decade and beyond.
By the American Revolution, the farmers and city-dwellers of British America had achieved, individually and collectively, considerable prosperity. The nature and extent of that success are still unfolding. In this first comprehensive assessment of where research on prerevolutionary economy stands, what it seeks to achieve, and how it might best proceed, the authors discuss those areas in which traditional work remains to be done and address new possibilities for a 'new economic history.'