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German-Language Cultures and Identities in Eighteenth-Century North America
Through innovative interdisciplinary methodologies and fresh avenues of inquiry, the nine essays collected in A Peculiar Mixture endeavor to transform how we understand the bewildering multiplicity and complexity that characterized the experience of German-speaking people in the middle colonies. They explore how the various cultural expressions of German-speakers helped them to bridge regional, religious and denominational divides, to develop a new sense of ethnic solidarity and, eventually, a national identity. Instead of thinking about early American culture and literature as evolving continuously as a singular entity, the contributions to this volume conceive of it as an ever shifting and tangled “web of contact zones.” They present a society with a plurality of different native and colonial cultures interacting not only with each other, but also with cultures and traditions from outside the colonies, in a “peculiar mixture” of Old World practices and New World influences. Aside from the editors, the contributors are Rosalind J. Beiler, Patrick Erben, Cynthia G. Falk, Marie Basile McDaniel, Philip Otterness, Liam Riordan, Matthias Schönhofer, and Marianne Wokeck.
Race, Gender, and Biblical Rhetoric in Early American Autobiography
For pious converts to Christianity in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century New England, all reality was shaped by religious devotion and biblical text. It is therefore not surprising that earnest believers who found themselves marginalized by their race or sex relied on their faith to reconcile the tension between the spiritual experience of rebirth and the social ordeal of exclusion and injustice. In Piety and Dissent, Eileen Razzari Elrod examines the religious autobiographies of six early Americans who represented various sorts of marginality: John Marrant, Olaudah Equiano, and Jarena Lee, all of African or African American heritage; Samson Occom (Mohegan) and William Apess (Pequot); and Abigail Abbott Bailey, a white woman who was subjected to extreme domestic violence. Through close readings of these personal narratives, Elrod uncovers the complex rhetorical strategies employed by pious outsiders to challenge the particular kinds of oppression each experienced. She identifies recurrent ideals and images drawn from Scripture and Protestant tradition—parables of liberation, rage, justice, and opposition to authority—that allowed them to see resistance as a religious act and, more than that, imbued them with a sense of agency. What the life stories of these six individuals reveal, according to Elrod, is that conventional Christianity in early America was not the hegemonic force that church leaders at the time imagined, and that many people since have believed it to be. Nor was there a clear distinction between personal piety and religious, social, and political resistance. To understand fully the role of religion in the early period of American letters, we must rethink some of our most fundamental assumptions about the function of Christian faith in the context of individual lives.
In Two Volumes
The early political culture of the American republic was deeply influenced by the religious consciousness of the New England preachers. Indeed, it was often through the political sermon—the "pulpit of the American Revolution"—that the political rhetoric of the period was formed, refined, and transmitted. And yet the centrality of religious concerns in the lives of eighteenth-century Americans is largely neglected. This has created a blind spot regarding the fundamental acts of the American founding.
Political sermons such as the fifty-five collected in this volume are unique to America, both in kind and in significance. This volume thus fills an important need if the American founding period is to be adequately understood.
Ellis Sandoz is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Eric Voegelin Institute at Louisiana State University.
The Religious Rhetoric of George Whitefield and the Founding of a New Nation
The third volume in the Studies in Rhetoric & Religion, Preaching Politics traces the surprising and lasting influence of one of American history's most fascinating and enigmatic figures, George Whitefield. Jerome Mahaffey explores George Whitefield's role in creating a"rhetoric of community "that successfully established a common worldview among the many colonial cultures. Using a rigorous method of rhetorical analysis, Mahaffey cogently argues that George Whitefield directed the evolution of an American collective religious identity that lay underneath the emerging political ideology that fueled the American Revolution.
The Rise and Decline of Virginia's Old Political Elite, 1680-1790
A "Topping People" is the first comprehensive study of the political, economic, and social elite of colonial Virginia. Evans studies twenty-one leading families from their rise to power in the late 1600s to their downfall over one hundred years later. These families represented the upper echelons of power, serving in the upper and lower houses of the General Assembly, often as speaker of the House of Burgesses. Their names—Randolph, Robinson, Byrd, Carter, Corbin, Custis, Nelson, and Page, to note but a few—are still familiar in the Old Dominion some three hundred years later.
Women and Politics in the Early American Republic
The Seneca Falls Convention is typically seen as the beginning of the first women's rights movement in the United States. Revolutionary Backlash argues otherwise. According to Rosemarie Zagarri, the debate over women's rights began not in the decades prior to 1848 but during the American Revolution itself. Integrating the approaches of women's historians and political historians, this book explores changes in women's status that occurred from the time of the American Revolution until the election of Andrew Jackson.
Although the period after the Revolution produced no collective movement for women's rights, women built on precedents established during the Revolution and gained an informal foothold in party politics and male electoral activities. Federalists and Jeffersonians vied for women's allegiance and sought their support in times of national crisis. Women, in turn, attended rallies, organized political activities, and voiced their opinions on the issues of the day. After the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a widespread debate about the nature of women's rights ensued. The state of New Jersey attempted a bold experiment: for a brief time, women there voted on the same terms as men.
Yet as Rosemarie Zagarri argues in Revolutionary Backlash, this opening for women soon closed. By 1828, women's politicization was seen more as a liability than as a strength, contributing to a divisive political climate that repeatedly brought the country to the brink of civil war. The increasing sophistication of party organizations and triumph of universal suffrage for white males marginalized those who could not vote, especially women. Yet all was not lost. Women had already begun to participate in charitable movements, benevolent societies, and social reform organizations. Through these organizations, women found another way to practice politics.
Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America
Revolutionary Negotiations examines early American diplomatic negotiations with both the European powers and the various American Indian nations from the 1740s through the 1820s. Sadosky interweaves previously distinct settings for American diplomacy—courts and council fires—into one singular, transatlantic system of politics.
Conservatives who are gratified at the success of David McCullough's wonderful new biography of John Adams will find even more of the real Adams—Adams unplugged, one might say in"The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams."
—Michael Potemra, National Review/July 23, 2001
The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams presents the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States. Though one of the principal framers of the American republic and the successor to Washington as president, John Adams receives remarkably little attention among many students of the early national period. This is especially true in the case of the periods before and after the Revolution, in which the intellectual rationale for independence and republican government was given the fullest expression.
The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams illustrates that it was Adams, for example, who before the Revolution wrote some of the most important documents on the nature of the British Constitution and the meaning of rights, sovereignty, representation, and obligation. And it was Adams who, once the colonies had declared independence, wrote equally important works on possible forms of government in a quest to develop a science of politics for the construction of a constitution for the proposed republic.
C. Bradley Thompson is an Associate Professor of History and Political Science at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, and the author of John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty.
Performance and Danger in Early America
As a number of recent studies have shown, the north European commercial world made the precise calculation of risk a central concern of the intellectual project of exploration, trade, and colonization. The great merit of Fichtelberg's book is systematizing the imaged world of dangers, and charting the various kinds of ritual and discursive performances marshaled to deal with the pressure of the unspeakable in early America from the 17th into the early 19th century. The readings of texts are invariably careful, and the points made, persuasive. ---David Shields, University of South Carolina Risk Culture is the first scholarly book to explore how strategies of performance shaped American responses to modernity. By examining a variety of early American authors and cultural figures, from John Smith and the Salem witches to Phillis Wheatley, Susanna Rowson, and Aaron Burr, Joseph Fichtelberg shows how early Americans created and resisted a dangerously liberating new world. The texts surveyed confront change through a variety of performances designed both to imagine and deter menaces ranging from Smith's hostile Indians, to Wheatley's experience of slavery, to Rowson's fear of exposure in the public sphere. Fichtelberg combines a variety of scholarly approaches, including anthropology, history, cultural studies, and literary criticism, to offer a unique synthesis of literary close reading and sociological theory in the service of cultural analysis. Joseph Fichtelberg is Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Hofstra University.