The Puritan Origins of the American Self

Front Cover
Yale University Press, Jan 1, 1975 - Religion - 250 pages
Errata slip inserted. Includes bibliographical references and index.
 

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Contents

The Vision of History
35
The Elect Nation in New England
72
From Hermeneutics to Symbolism
109
The Myth of America
136
Cotton Mathers Life of John Winthrop
187
Notes
206
Index
247
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About the author (1975)

Sacvan Bercovitch, who is a professor at Harvard University, is probably the most influential critic in American studies today. Tracing the function of rhetoric in American writing from the Puritans through the nineteenth century, Bercovitch has argued that the persuasiveness of rhetoric is in proportion to its capacity to help people act in history. In his books, Bercovitch has revealed the power of American rhetoric as it creates a myth of America that conflates religious and political issues, transforming even the most despairing and critical energies into affirmations of the American way. Among his major arguments is the idea that the rhetoric of America's colonial sermons and histories, founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, and novels of the American Renaissance, all participate in the project of transforming what he calls dissensus into rituals of consensus.

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