From “The Literature of Colonial English Puritanism”
By Philip F. Gura
in Teaching the Literatures of Early
Is the early colonial literature American, or British? It was written by British citizens on
American soil! Perry Miller introduced the idea of the Puritan “errand into
the wilderness.” Why did the Puritans
Why aren’t we Puritans today? What went wrong? (1) prosperity, (2) increase in diverse populations, (3) dissention—Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams – free to organize their spiritual and political lives in accordance with their understanding of Scripture, New Englanders from an early date often disagreed on matters of ecclesiastical and civil polity. Unanimity of doctrine was never the rule.
debate still exists in
Criticisms of Miller’s theory: (1) Miller relied upon clerical authors instead of the New England population as a whole; (2) unwillingness to examine the more affective dimensions of Puritan theology; (3) gender.
Anne Bradstreet” “To My Dear Children”
· How do you define yourself?
ü Through a theological emphasis? The Puritans found it difficult to subdue their ego. This is demonstrated in Anne Bradstreet’s poetry as well as Emily Dickinson’s poetry. “I’m Nobody, Who Are You?” Self-effacement versus self-aggrandizement.
ü Through a familial emphasis?
ü Through a community emphasis? There is a conflict between the individual goals and the community goals. The Puritans’ much vaunted ethic of charity was severely compromised by the colonists’ treatment of Native Americans and those within communities who practiced magic and thus condemned as witches.
Why did the Puritans believe in witches? Folk
literature versus high literature. (What
controls the cosmos?) Narratives of
witchcraft, the wilderness, and Native Americans, then, vividly demonstrate
that precisely when
· How many of you believe in typology?
Answer these questions:
How did the Europeans come to view themselves as ”Americans?”
How an American self might differ in its self referentiality as well as in its understanding of others, from the Europeans
How concepts of the other framed colonial identity.