Puritanism in America Lives and Legacies

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When thinking about New England Puritans two images often come to mind: 1) that of social and religious reformers who sailed to the New World and laid the foundations of the United States; 2) that of a group of hypocrites who denied everyone around them anything considered fun and who meddled in other people's affairs. In this class we look at and beyond these images by investigating the main religious and political ideas as well as economic and cultural practices that formed the pillars of Puritan society between 1620 and 1750. We particularly stress how Puritans dealt with ideological and racial otherness, highlighting that diversity was as much part of the founding features of America as social angst and control. Toward the end of the semester, we assess the imagined continuity of Puritanism in selected moments of American history. During our visit to colonial New England, the questions we ask include: How did colonial ideologues instrumentalize religion to create a tightly knit society and a thriving economic order? To what extent did Puritanism contribute to the idea and practice of American exceptionalism? What do certain evocations of Puritan social and political ideas reveal and conceal about the usability of America's colonial past?

Anglistik Universität Duisburg-Essen SS 2012 Master, Master Dr. Priewe Marc