This dissertation studies the many ways in which physical pain produces instances of personal piety in poems, narratives, and theological tracts from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Puritan New England. Specifically, the project revises the idea that spiritual regeneration happened only through Puritan contacts with established liturgical means and precast homiletics; it contends instead that conversion occurred because of bodily pain. Analyzing four canonical Puritan writers—Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, Cotton Mather, and Jonathan Edwards—Theologies of Pain demonstrates that texts of even the most historically mainstream Puritans contend with the disruptive force of pain. Anne Bradstreet sees pain as an object of contemplation destabilizing the semiotics of the human body inherited from ancient and Renaissance philosophy. For Mary Rowlandson, it is a paradoxically reassuring force that allows her to retain her spiritual identity while under captivity in the wilderness of western New England. Cotton Mather, perhaps the most loquacious spokesperson for the Puritans in this study, theorizes that pain is a uniquely divine sensation that reorients thinking. And Jonathan Edwards—by contrast to the three other writers—reasons that pain is never a sensation but is, instead, a posture of mind attributable only to the unregenerate, or "natural," man. After conversion, pain becomes negated in Edwards's theology. This project thus shows that in New England Puritanism, pain resists collective interpretation and, instead, signifies intensely in its adherents' personal expressions of piety.
|Commitee:||Barney, Richard, Lilley, James, Wills, David|
|School:||State University of New York at Albany|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Theology, American literature, Spirituality|
|Keywords:||Bradstreet, Anne, Early American literature, Edwards, Jonathan, Mather, Cotton, Pain, Puritanism, Rowlandson, Mary White, Spiritual conversion, The human body, The mind|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be