Inventing Eden: primitivism, millennialism, and the making of New England Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Hutchins, Zachary McLeod
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Seventeenth-century exegetes described Eden as a three-fold paradise because they believed that Adam and Eve lived in an external garden of delight, possessed incorrupt physiologies, and enjoyed intellectual, spiritual, and social perfections before the Fall. Accordingly, the dissertation is organized thematically, treating the ways in which New England colonists sought to mold their lands, bodies, minds, language, souls, and social spheres after the pattern provided in Eden. Chapter one traces the transition of terms used to describe the New England landscape from the present paradise of John Smith to the hideous and desolate wilderness of William Bradford and the prospective Paradise of Cotton Mather. Chapter two outlines programs of physiological reform, as colonists like Anne Bradstreet disciplined their physical bodies and ministers like Edward Taylor regulated the ecclesiastical body's consumption of communion in order to achieve humoral temperance--the somatic and spiritual state of Adam and Eve in Eden. Chapters three and four document Francis Bacon's influence on educational and linguistic aspirations in New England. I argue that because the encyclopedic knowledge and divinely denotative language of Adam were believed to be inseparably linked, Leonard Hoar's plans to turn Harvard into the world's first experimental laboratory in chemistry situated at a university and John Cotton's attempt to model the language of the Bay Psalm Book after the lingua humana of Eden should be understood as related endeavors, companion contributions from New England to the Baconian project for the instauration of prelapsarian intellectual perfections. Chapter five examines the ways in which ministers of the Great Awakening presented Adam and Eve to their congregants as types of Christian conversion, and chapter six details the process by which theories of natural law distilled from Genesis became the basis for colonial rebellion and republican government through the influence of Oceana, James Harrington's vision of an idealized, edenic republic. Spanning two centuries and surveying the works of major British and American authors from George Herbert and John Milton to Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin, Inventing Eden is the history of an idea that irrevocably altered the theology, literature, and culture of early modern New England.
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  • In Copyright
  • Gura, Philip F.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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