A new approach to puritan studies has been emerging in recent decades, but until now, no single volume has tried to gather in a comprehensive way the new histories of this literature. In A History of American Puritan Literature (Cambridge UP, 2020), edited by Kristina Bross and Abram Van Engen, eighteen leading scholars in the field help to mark a turning point in our understanding of the literary cultures of the American puritans, even as the publication of this volume signals 400 years since the Mayflower landing. This new approach is geographically and thematically broader than previous generations of similar literary histories. It is increasingly clear that the literatures emerging from early modern puritans were not written in a vacuum. More attention is being paid to the Caribbean, European, and global influences on the production of puritan texts. And with this expanded geography, a new generation of scholars are moving beyond some of the more well-covered themes, such as typology and the jeremiad, and reading the old texts with new questions: What does American Puritan literature tell us about early American attitudes toward gender, the environment, and science, to list only a few of the themes covered. Tune in to hear the editors of this volume describe this brilliant collection of scholarship.
Ryan David Shelton (@ryoldfashioned) is a social historian of British and American Protestantism and a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast.
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