By Nature and by Custom Cursed: Transatlantic Civil Discourse and New England Cultural Production, 1620-1660

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In a major interdisciplinary reinterpretation of first-generation New England cultural formation, Phillip H. Round demonstrates that Puritanism was only one ingredient in the creation of a new American civil society. Examining five discourses at work in the early modern era -- civic order, truth-telling, gender difference, authorship, and ethnicity -- he provides fresh readings of early American writers like William Bradford and Anne Bradstreet, and historical figures like Anne Hutchinson and Thomas Morton, that reveal the true transatlantic and civil dimensions of our nation's earliest literature.

Though the struggle over social authority took place within a Reformed Protestant context, it was actually far more eclectic, heterogeneous, and secular than contemporary published Puritan discourses -- and their latter day interpreters -- would admit. Round steps outside the official Puritan discourse to emphasize several other modes of rhetorical expression: transatlantic letters, urban revolutionary discourses and performances, town records, and pamphlets and tracts that engaged questions of racial and gender difference. The result is a version of the "New England Mind" and public culture which is far more complicated and interesting than prevailing theories suggest.
 

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INTRODUCTION By Nature and by Custom Cursed I
1
ONE A True Relation
17
TWO Whatsoever We Did When We Lived in England
65
THREE They Must Use Their Eares and Not Their Tongues
106
FOUR From Her That to Yourself More Duty Owes
153
Notes
269
Index
315
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PHILLIP H. ROUND is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Iowa.

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