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Early American Literature The Puritan Era

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1 Early American Literature The Puritan Era

2 Outcomes of the lesson Timeline overview of American Literary Movements Early American Literature overview and timeline Emphasis on Puritan Literature, beginning with the historic context. Writing style, major themes, methods of interpretation and author’s intent of Puritan works Notable writers of the Puritan Era and their works

3 Prior Knowledge Inquiry
How do you define the terms pure, purist and puritan in our modern era? Connect how these denotations might relate to the Puritan Era of writing.

4 Point of View Inquiry Massachusetts Bay Colony seal from 1689-1692
Seals were used as signatures because many people were illiterate, and proved the confirmation of a document or charter. Seal 1: In 1629, King Charles I granted a charter to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which included the authority to use a seal. It featured an Indian holding an arrow pointed down in a gesture of peace, with the words "Come over and help us," emphasizing the missionary and commercial intentions of the original colonists. This seal was used until 1686, shortly after the charter was annulled, and again from Seal 2: From 1686 to 1689 Governor Edmund Andros used a seal with two sides, one side showing King James II with an Englishman and Indian kneeling in front of him, the other side showing the lion and unicorn of the royal coat of arms. When the Province of Massachusetts began in 1692, the royal coat of arms of England, combined with a motto specific to the reigning monarch, became the official seal. Royal governors affixed their personal seals to commissions issued to officers in the military service. Examine the two seals above and make an inference about the perception and agenda of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the reigning Monarch. What changes transpired between the eras of these two seals. Massachusetts Bay Colony seal from

5 Literary Movements Modernism Romanticism
Contemporary and Post-Modernism Age of Reason Puritan painting, Thomas Paine, Common Sense; Edgar Allen Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Langston Hughes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, JD Salinger, Tim O’Brien, Gloria Naylor Realism Puritan Era Transcendentalism Present

6 Early American Literature
Puritan painting (William Bradford, John Edwards, Cotton Mather), Thomas Paine ( ) “Common Sense”, Edgar Allen Poe ( ) “Annabell Lee”, and Henry David Thoreau ( ) “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience”. Transcendentalism Age of Reason/ Enlightenment Romanticism Puritan Era

7 Puritan Literature ( )

8 American writing from 1600-1750
Native American (oral stories) Puritan Writing Early American Political Writings influenced by John Locke (natural rights) and Charles Montesquieu (separation of powers).

9 Puritan Literary Era Jamestown, Virginia the first permanent English colony in the Americas is founded by the Virginia Company of London in 1607. Plymouth Colony is founded in 1620 by English separatists (Pilgrims) governed by William Bradford who wrote about their experience in Of Plymouth Plantation. Puritans immigrated to Americans to establish a “city on a hill” led by John Winthrop. Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. 1628 1741

10 The Puritans and the Founding of the New England Colonies
Historic Context of the American Puritans

11 The Puritans “City on a Hill”
Following the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther (Germany, ) and John Calvin (French ), the Puritans came to the Americas to separate or reform their own church, The Church of England (aka, the Anglican Church). The Puritans divided into two main groups: 1. the separatists, who wanted to sever ties with the Church of England (aka, the Pilgrims) and 2. those who wanted to reform or purify the Anglican church from within, and remain connected to the Church – The Puritans.

12 Reformation Principles
Protestant reformers abided by two foundational principles: 1. The Bible is the supreme authority, not man nor a man-made institution. (The Roman Catholics called this protestant principle “sola scriptura” and noted it as a fallacy, because the Bible was not intended to be read literally. However, the Reformers thought this was just the RC’s way of inserting their hierarchical authority into the interpretation of sacred writing.) 2. The individual has a direct relationship with God (hence, a direct responsibility to God) that does not require mediation through a priest or institution.

13 Of Plymouth Plantation
In 1620 William Bradford and his company of 101 separatists (men, women and children) sailed on the Mayflower with the intention of landing at the Virginia Colony. Instead, they landed at Cape Cod. After surviving their first winter, there were only 50 people left in the spring of Bradford wrote about their experience in Of Plymouth Plantation. This is this the only document we have that elucidates on the experience of the Pilgrims

14 The City on a Hill John Winthrop and his Puritan followers arrived in the Massachusetts Bay in In his sermon, A Model of Christian Charity he expressed the Puritan ethic of purification and reform. “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.” ~John Winthrop

15 Five Primary Beliefs of the Reformation carried by the Puritans
1. Absolute Sovereignty 2. Human Depravity 3. Predestination 4. Covenant Theology 5. Individualism and Reading

16 Absolute Sovereignty God exists outside of time, and is in complete control. Nothing happens outside of his knowledge or power. The Puritans used the words Sovereignty and Providence interchangeably

17 Depravity Human Depravity or Total Depravity states that humans are inherently evil and sinful due to the fall from grace of Adam and Eve. Therefore, humans are incapable of a worthy response to God, and are in need of God’s grace/redemption. All of creation is tainted by original sin and there is nothing good in a human apart from God’s grace, or the saving action of God. Because of the fall, and human decent into depravity, God must initiate all interaction with humans, giving humans an ability, a chance to respond. Depravity: wickedness, a nature of violence

18 Predestination God – in His absolute authority, sovereignty and wisdom – determined before human history who would be saved and go to heaven (“the elect”) and who would be damned to hell. This number was already fixed. The elect have no choice but to be saved, and the damned cannot choose election, even if they think they want to follow God.

19 The number is fixed because God exists outside of time and already knows the choices and outcomes of all creatures in order to direct all choices toward His own purpose, or sovereignty. However, humans who exist in time, are still responsible for their choices in everyday life.

20 Covenant Theology Covenant theology is a core idea of Calvinism that influences all of Puritan life, grounding their religious beliefs within their experience. Relationship with God Social and Civil relationships Church organization Covenant: an agreement or contract between God and his loyal, faithful followers. The Puritans also called a covenant, a compact.

21 Puritans were Congregationalists who rejected hierarchy, especially before the Creator, or between themselves and the Creator. Instead they favored a personal relationship with God. Each church body needed to be self-governing and autonomous. Members entered into a covenant with each other as a communal body. They chose a pastor, elected elders and deacons to carry out the activity of the church. Members demonstrated their election (being chosen by God) by telling their testimony, being a witness to divine intervention, or telling of their conversion experience (such as a conversion story).

22 Example: Anne Bradstreet’s letter to her children
My dear children,– I, KNOWING by experience that the exhortations of parents take most effect when the speakers leave to speak, and those especially sink deepest which are spoke latest– and being ignorant whether on my death bed I shall have opportunity to speak to any of you, much lesse to All– thought it the best, whilst I was able to compose some short matters, (for what else to call them I know not) and bequeath to you, that when I am no more with you, yet I may bee dayly in your remembrance, (Although that is the least in my aim in what I now doe) but that you may gain some spiritual Advantage by my experience. I have not studyed in this you read to show my skill, but to declare the Truth– not to sett forth myself, but the Glory of God. If I had minded the former, it had been perhaps better pleasing to you,– but seing the last is the best, let it bee best pleasing to you.1. The method I will observe shall be this– I will begin with God's dealing with me from my childhood to this Day. In my young years, about 6 or 7 as I take it, I began to make conscience of my wayes, and what I knew was sinfull, as lying, disobedience to Parents, &c. I avoided it. If at any time I was overtaken with the like evills, it was as a great Trouble. I could not be at rest 'till by prayer I had confest it unto God. I was also troubled at the neglect of Private Dutyes, tho: too often tardy that way. I also found much comfort in reading the Scriptures, especially those places I thought most concerned my Condition, and as I grew to have more understanding, so the more solace I took in them.

23 Individualism and Reading
Puritans were middle class, and due to the Reformation influence (personal relationship with God), they emphasized individual responsibility. This led to the practical outcome of increased literacy, particularly Bible reading, because each person needed to be able to interpret God’s word. Both men and women studied and interpreted the Bible for themselves, and raised their children to be literate and learned.

24 Puritan Writings Because of the belief in God’s election, Puritans also believed in individual reflection and examination of conscience on their interpretations of personal experience. This resulted in writings about: Sermons Poetry Journals, Diaries and Letters Histories reflective writings/conversion narratives/ everyday-event stories

25 Writing Style, Form and Content
Puritan plain style: direct, straight-forward without embellishments or hubris. Focused on God and the Bible Wrote about daily events, and the hardships of everyday life Applied and interpreted symbolism Inward Reflection Autobiographical; each person speaks for oneself and not for others. Distrust of drama, non-fiction and novels (false idols). Art was intended to direct one in their holy life, and not as sensory pleasure or distraction.

26 Writing Style, Form and Content
If therefore the verses are not always so smooth and elegant as some may desire or expect; let them consider that God’s Altar needs not our polishing.” ~Cotton Mather All of their writing was created and kept to document the work of God in their lives, in humanity, through their individual response to their experience with a reflection upon their Creator’s will. Therefore, Puritans were always reading books and reading signs. They literally read scripture, and read their experience for signs and symbols to interpret God’s intention in their daily lives.

27 The Practical Outcomes of Symbol-Making
Puritans interpreted everyday events as manifestations of God’s will. A calamity might be a sign of God’s judgment, and prosperity a blessing. They held a deep belief in the supernatural and in the mysterious. “Signs and Wonders” were read to show that God was at work; the corporeal pointed to the transcendent. The words/signs of the Bible revealed God’s intentions for those of the earth, in heaven. Reading physical and figurative signs led to: Increased education and literacy for everyone. The Puritans founded Harvard University in 1636. The “Puritan Work Ethic” The Puritan communities developed and sustained a healthy economy in the New World, while many of the established cities in Europe suffered economic hardship.

28 William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation
William Bradford traveled to the Americas on the Mayflower. He became the governor of the Pilgrim’s settlement in Plymouth. Of Plymouth Plantation details the historic journey of the separatists/Pilgrims across the Atlantic to the Americas. It describes the founding of the Plymouth Plantation, their first winter, the Pilgrim’s contact with the Native Americans and the first Thanksgiving.

29 John Edward’s Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God
John Edward’s penned the famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in 1741, and delivered it to his Enfield, Connecticut congregation that was swept up in the Great Awakening. Though many of Edward’s sermons were more pastoral, even reasonable and logical, Sinners stands as the penultimate classic of fire and brimstone preaching. This work assumes a highly disciplinary tone and is said to have caused listeners to rise from the pews and enter an extreme emotional state. This piece captures the fervent religious spirit of the Great Awakening and Edward’s power of persuasion. *He was said to be a quiet and thoughtful teacher in private. *He was one of the founders of Princeton University.

30 Early American Writers
Additional Sources: John Edwards Early American Writers: John Smith, John Winthrop and Roger Williams Anne Bradstreet: Poems and Biography Cotton Mather’s Writing Mayflower Salem Witch Trials

31 Evaluation question By 1660 only 20% of the Massachusetts population remained members of the church.  The tension between the secular (non-religious) aspects of daily life and religious belief was growing.  Judge and provide reasons for why religious community was so difficult to sustain in the New World.

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