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  • Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; or the Transformation (40 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 22, 2018

      Data Visualization for Brown’s Wieland.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 29, 2018

      I think this paragraph is a great example of the type of warning that Brown is trying to tell his readers. Wieland becomes too focused on this voice that he believes in God, and he becomes willing to do anything to please this voice. In fact, once he hears the voice tell him to kill his family, he doesn’t even question it. He immediately kills his wife and children as a way to “testify [his] submission to thy will.” I think this excerpt makes a great warning to the audience by showing that there are times when submission to God can go too far, and in Wieland’s case, even cause madness and homicidal behavior.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on April 4, 2018

      I found this paragraph to be very interesting. He is talking about his family, and the differences between his father’s side of the family and his mother’s side of the family. I find it interesting because he does not seem to be faulting his grandfather for marrying “beneath” himself. He seems to just be talking about what happened. In the next paragraph, he says that his grandfather was disowned and rejected because he married a merchant’s daughter. This was interesting to me because it does not seem like something that would happen today.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on April 4, 2018

      This paragraph is very interesting because it displays Clara’s rationality. She is clearly able to reason, maybe even more accurately then her friends. This feels a large jump in what we’ve read thus in class. Clara is a women, and her ability to reason isn’t unseen. Here, she is questioning her own ability to reason. Though, we have seen it more than once, and we know she is capable, she questions herself. She doubted the supernatural voice as anything but supernatural, now she wonders if t could be possible. If she could have been wrong. This may be a turning point for Clara in the novel; she is beginning to rationalize to now, a supernatural level.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on April 4, 2018

      From reading this paragraph and those previous, it sounds like this man got out of an abusive relationship with his family. But it also shows that sometimes getting away from one’s family can be more beneficial than harmful in life.

      In the first part of the paragraph, I also feel that it show that some families care more about their image than the happiness of their own child. Forcing an “my way or the highway” can cause tension in a household and cause those “lesser” to seek out independence just to escape and do as they want. This paragraph also shows that leaving one’s family opens up new opportunities on how to lead their own life as fulfilling as possible.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 5, 2018

      [The temple was no longer assigned to its ancient use.]

      This line could be said to signify the ascendancy of Englightenment rationalism over and above religion and superstition in human affairs. By introducing a bust of Cicero (the ancient Roman statesmand and orator) into the temple, Wieland can be seen to embrace new rationalistic values and seemingly to pivot away from the religious dogma of his father. The events and activities the friends and family pursue in the repurposed temple all suggest good social relations, utility, and the advancement of reason. In this way Brown sets up an enlightment and rationalist standard of values and perceptions that gets steadily undermined as the mysterious and destructive events of the plot proceed.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on April 7, 2018

      I found not necessarily this paragraph alone, but this section, where Wieland is convicted/admits to having committed the murders. I think this was interesting because to me, it just seemed so ridiculous. I watch Dateline or similar documentaries as much as the next person, but for some reason I had a hard time buying the fact that Wieland committed these murders, despite the fact that he admits it and even Clara states, “Such then were the acts of my brother” (Brown 135). However, a source that helped me to understand that they weren’t so extraordinary was the “The Yates and the Beadle Family Murders”. This source examines, as it implies, the murders of the Yates the Beadle’s families. In short, in 1781 James Yates was told by Spirits to destroy his idols. Yates threw his Bible in the fire, but was persuaded to do further. He killed his two boys–five and seven–before chasing his wife and infant daughter. He killed both the infant and injured then killed his wife. Finally, he debated killing his 11 year old Rebecca, but killed her as well. He confessed to his sister, who then got him imprisoned for his crimes. In 1783, William Beadle drugged and killed his wife and four children before committing suicide because, “he considered himself…as mere machines; and that he had a right to dispose of his own and the lives of his family” (Brown 285). This article that explained the tragic murders of these two families is a helpful supplemental text to Wieland. Many readers, such as myself, may struggle to believe that someone would be called to commit such heinous acts. However, these real life crimes show that this may not be as unusual as we may believe. Having the knowledge of these crimes make Wieland more believable for readers.


      Works Cited:

      Brown, Charles Brockden, et al. Wieland; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009. 5-183.

      “The Yates and the Beadle Family Murders. Wieland; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009.278-291.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on April 8, 2018

      In Charles Brockden Brown’s short essay “The Difference Between History and Romance,” he focuses on the idea that motives are an essential difference between natural history and romance.  Brown claims that the reason romance is often more interesting than history is because, “Curiosity is not content with noting and recording the actions of men. It likewise seeks to know the motives by which the agent is impelled to the performance of these actions; but motives are modifications of thought which cannot be subjected to the senses” (Barnard 197). Here, Brown illustrates that while motives cannot be documented scientifically, they are what make stories important and interesting to people. This paragraph in “Wieland, or the Transformation,” lays out this theory perfectly in the story. Wieland says, “My motives have been truly stated. If my judges are unable to discern the purity of my intentions, or to credit the statement of them…they must pronounce me a murderer.” Without the knowledge of Wieland’s motives and purpose for the murders, the reader would only know that he had killed his family, and the story would not be nearly as interesting or informative about the social conditions of this time period. From these texts by Wieland, we can see that the inclusion of motives in narratives is essential in educating readers about specific events, ideas, and theories of the time.

      Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 9, 2018

      In the excerpt of Charles Brockden Brown’s “Terrific Novels,” Brown criticizes other authors’ use of Gothic elements “to keep the reader in a constant state of tumult and horror” by using supernatural tropes such as “trap-doors, back stairs, black robes, and pale faces” (201). Brown states that Ann Radcliffe somewhat made up for this style of writing with her use of “the charms of sentiment and description” (201). Wieland seeks to employ Gothic elements to compensate for previous Gothic writers’ mistakes by using some of Radcliffe’s techniques. Brown found that images that were meant solely to shock or scare readers was overrated and misused, describing these instances of supernatural elements as “indulgences” (201). In Wieland, Brown was not interested in scaring readers with superstitions or ghosts or any other supernatural form, he wanted the reader to come face-to-face with true life experiences that could happen to anyone at anytime if the right conditions were met. This is why Wieland’s murder of his family is so horrific. What Brown has written, and what we see in Theodore, is a classic case of mental illness taken to the extreme. Hearing voices, murdering people (in the name of God or otherwise), and believing that these actions (murder) are right and justified, aren’t unheard of phenomena, they are very real experiences that happen daily without warning. Brown’s “true” Gothic style comes not from supernatural sources, but from an understanding that real life itself has horrors that cannot be explained.

      Work Cited

      Brown, Charles Brockden. “Terrific Novels.” Wieland; or the Transformation with Related Texts, edited by Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 201.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on April 9, 2018

      This is a very interesting start to the novel. In this paragraph it seems that he is discussing his feelings and thoughts. He states that his state is not destitute of tranquility, meaning that his mind and soul is without tranquility. It seems that in the start of this novel he is in a mindset of panic, without hope, and he has no control over his own thoughts. This paragraph throws you into the mind issues of the story and after knowing his mindset, shows you how it slowly changes him. In this paragraph it gives clue ins to how after letting these feelings over come him, in the end, he knows he has nothing to fear from life or fate because fate has already done its worst and he has experienced the mass of misfortune.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on April 9, 2018

      This passage gave great hope to how their lives seemed to be proceeding. After much disappointment and dread from losing their parents, it seems they grew up in a beneficial environment. From the way he stated it, it seems that he and his brother were allowed more freedom in their learning with being with their aunt, “Our social pleasures were subject to no unreasonable restraints. We were instructed in most branches of useful knowledge, and were saved from the corruption and tyranny of colleges and boarding-schools.” It’s made to sound like they had the opportunity to learn more than commonly acknowledged and its made out to show they were allowed to learn in whatever order that wanted.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on April 9, 2018

      [The divinity that shielded me from his attempts will take suitable care of my future safety.]

      I found it very intriguing how Clara appeals to divinity in her moment of fright and horror after Carwin has broken into her bedchamber. I found it to be a very deistic response in that of course from her childhood, being raised in a very spiritually progressive household, she would not address God specifically. Even in her moment of crisis though, she has her wits about her enough to maintain a level of rationality while at the same time invoking the influence of a higher power.

      I think Thomas Paine would applaud her.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on April 9, 2018

      I think that this paragraph illustrates a lot of enlightenment-esque concepts that continued to influence religious thought well after the enlightenment period came to an end. To me, it represents the way that many individuals saw education and religion as equal entities that could be exchanged and put in place of each other regularly in order to attain differing results, or to alter the impending results into something more desirable or beneficial. I get the feeling that many individuals during this time believed that they could fill the “god-shaped hole in their hearts” as Pascal put it, with higher education and head knowledge. However, we know from class discussion that the innately human need to find meaning in something larger than ourselves can never be stuffed away by a pile of books or diplomas on the walls.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on April 9, 2018

      Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland or The Transformation: An American Tale can be seen as drawing inspiration from Erasmus Darwin’s Zoonomia or The Laws of Organic Life in regard to the themes of madness and mania displayed in chapter six of Brown’s text. Darwin notes that mania is the “radical transformation or changing of an individual’s character based on a deluded belief… formulat[ing] categories of obsession and obsessive-compulsive disorder” (303). This idea is reflected in Clara’s obsession with not only her father’s death but death in general. Clara contemplates that, “Death must happen to all… Sooner or later, we must disappear for ever from the face of the Earth (143). This obsession with the idea of death contributes to her falling into mania. Clara begins to decline into madness. Instead of healthily accepting her father’s death, she decided to focus upon it and begins hearing voices that cannot be attributed to any human source. The decline of Clara’s mental health and into mania can be attributed to Darwin’s theory of the dangers of obsession leading to madness.


      Brown, Charles Brockden. Wieland or the Transformation with Related Texts. Edited by Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro, Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2009.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on April 9, 2018

      The entirety of this chapter seems to be one long meandering memory of gothic strangeness and intrigue. In the earlier part of the chapter, the descriptions of the narrator’s sorrowful reflections about the gloomy man’s appearance demonstrate the author’s intent to examine the narrator’s psyche. The use of the memory in itself helps to subvert the topic of the man, as memories tend to be based on images and not necessarily on the entirety of reality. Later in the chapter, the quintessential woman running down the stairwell from the ghost scene is too perfect as an example for a gothic scene, she even faints. I was initially perplexed as to why these two scenes had somehow come together under one chapter, as they seem utterly unconnected. However, they are connected by the narrators need to seek refuge through sleep, and it is in sleep that she encounters these ghosts in the closet. Brown has lead me through a wandering plot in a dreamlike state, as if to mimic the very psyche of the narrator that I am reading about, it is an experience within an experience.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on April 9, 2018

      This paragraph stood out to me because once again we not only see the similarities between Wieland and elder Wieland but we are told. Wieland has the same gloomy melancholy characteristics his father did. Although he is not devoted to religion like his father, he is devoted to science and reason. The vision and actions Wieland sees are a “shadowy resemblance” to their father’s death. The necessary foreshadowing and comparison made by Brown between the two suggest that the extreme religious devotion can lead to mental perturbation. The horrific events to come will also be shaped by these comparisons.



      Comment by Hillary Colton on April 10, 2018

      In Charles Brocken Brown’s Wieland or the Transformation, Brown uses his characters to demonstrate the value of human psychology. He explores the human condition by blurring two main themes: science and superstition. In the “Related Texts” section, Elias Marion exemplifies the supernatural elements we see in Brown’s novel, which also accounts for one possible cause of death for Clara and Wieland’s father. Clara wonders if her father’s death was the direct interference of “the Divine Ruler” (Brown 19), or spontaneous combustion; this is the first time Brown introduces superstition versus science. This same superstition is present in Elias Marion’s essay in “Related Texts”. He says, “At last I feel that the Spirit forms in my Mouth the Words which he will have me pronounce, which are almost always accompanied with some Agitations, or extraordinary Motions, or at least with a great Constraint” (Marion 294). Marion is invoking the same supernatural elements that we see in Clara’s father, and in Wieland. Every word spoken is formed in the mouth by God. Every motion made is for the “Divine Ruler”. With both Marion and Clara’s narrative, horror is invoked. As Clara is reflecting on her father’s death she says, “Was this the penalty of disobedience? this stroke of a vindictive and invisible hand?” (Brown 18). The horror involved in the divine rule, the power of God, becomes a fear for Clara’s father and Wieland. In Marion’s declaration, God says to him “No Peace for the Wicked; He must be destroyed. Oh the Wonders that are preparing for my People” (Marion 295). Here, the horror of the supernatural is invoked for the ones who are “wicked”. In both Marion’s declaration, and Brown’s novel, supernatural elements are present, making Brown’s protagonist and the reader question what is supernatural, and what is science.
      Brown, Charles Brocken. Wieland or the Transformation. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009.
      Marion, Elias. “Related Texts.” Wieland or the Transformation, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 291-296.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on April 11, 2018

      Available in the Related Texts portion of the book is an excerpt of Brown’s article “Terrific Novels” from The Literary Magazine and American Register dated April 1805). In this short excerpt Brown tries to explain how the Gothic genre, as established by Walpole and Radcliff, has become diluted as imitators of the style fail to uphold the two main literary elements that can truly incite terror, “sentiment and description” (201). In this passage, as Clara lies in bed and hears the whispers of threats from her closet, description and sentiment are key to invoking fright from the reader. The described proximity and tone of the whispers, regardless of the actual threats themselves, and the notion of the invasion of privacy is enough to disturb a reader. Clara flees and the passage closes with, “I had not gained the threshold, when, exhausted by the violence of my emotions, and by my speed, I sunk down in a fit” (51-52) shows how Brown uses both description and sentiment to heighten the level of, urgency, terror, and fear in the text. For Brown, the Gothic style depends on the use of strong and descriptive prose, as he demonstrates here, in order to truly invoke fear in the audience.

      Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; Or the Transformation. An American Tale, with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.

      Comment by Ries Cope on April 11, 2018

      Charles Brockden Brown, the author of “Weiland; or the Transformation,” had strong beliefs about the form and usage of ‘gothic’ styles of writing. In traditional gothic pieces, the supernatural is used to “excite fear and suspense in [the] audience” (200). Brown believed that gothic should mimic reality and be fulfilling for the audience to read, rather than merely exciting and terrifying. Brown criticizes other gothic authors saying, “They endeavor to keep the reader in a constant of tumult and horror, by the powerful engines of trapdoors, back stairs, black robes, and pale faces…” (200). Brown exercised a realistic gothic style. Although ‘supernatural’ events occur in his writing, Brown always provided an explanation and revealed these odd happenings to be completely natural. In this paragraph, Brown shows his audience that the voices that Theodore and Clara heard were simply a vocal manipulation that Carwin had learned. “The art of the ventriloquist consists in modifying his voice according to all these variations, without changing his place” (154). Instead of ghosts and spirits, Brown backs up his writing with actual truths which adds another level of understanding between him and his audience. With this information, the readers can trust that the answers will be revealed. With the knowledge of Brown’s attention to detail, the entire piece is enriched. Each mysterious happening will have an answer, and that draws the reader even further into the work. 
      Charles Brockden Brown, excerpt from “Terrific            Novels.” The Literary Magazine and American Register 3:19 (April 1805)

      Brown, Charles Brockden, et al. Wieland; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on April 11, 2018

      There is an evident similarity between Brown’s fictional character, Wieland, and the real Mr. Yates, as detailed in the article, “An Account” by Ann Eliza Bleeker (280-84). Though there are clear deviations in the particulars of the murders, the similarities are enough to intentionally illustrate Brown’s belief or idea that the absence of a father figure, literally or figuratively, leads to a severe and profound disconnect wherein the current patriarch fully embraces a self-determining agency in order to solidify his wavering religious convictions by sacrificing his family as a testament to his faith. As a Deist, both the fictional Wieland and real Yates, he is creating his own religious enlightenment, something he fervently desires and lacks, but at a severe cost- loss of life for his family at his hands and insanity and a life sentence for himself. Both men appeal to a “father” when in the throes of their madness and it leads us to believe they are appealing to the ultimate father-figure, God, in the hopes of receiving clarity, arguably not for mercy or forgiveness, though, as neither shows remorse for his actions but, as true Deists do, rationalizing the deaths of their families as painful but necessary payment for that fervent and unshakeable belief.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on April 11, 2018

      This relatively small passage in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland; or the Transformation epitomizes a couple of the major themes seen throughout Brown’s work dealing with ideas of faith and failure. The concept of faith is expressed by different camps in the text. There are both the more classic religious ideals that are pitted against those of the sometimes overly logical Deists. On either side however,  we are presented with how that faith is corrupted or fails the practitioner at key moments in the tale. When comparing events in the book with those of the real life occurrences found in the accounts of “The Yates and Beadle Family Murders” we are again presented with this concept of people’s faith steering them to tragic ends. Like James Yates, Wieland is confronted with the image of an angel, and upon doing the specter’s bidding, confesses to a kind of elation. Where Yates says, “My spirits were now high” (281), Wieland is likewise jubilant with his, “I thus soared above frailty” (132). But from the heinous actions that surround these words it is clear that both men’s reason have failed them. The reverse of that can arguably be seen in Pleyel and William Beadle’s purely Deistic choices (though obviously Pleyel did not go to Beadle’s extremes).  Pleyel and Beadle depend too heavily, as Beadle says on being, “collected in…mind(s) and reason” (285), and this lack of faith, Pleyel in Clara’s strength of self and Beadle in the importance of familial ties, causes a great and terrible chain of events to happen to themselves and those around them. All those mentioned have their faith fail them or fail to correctly interpret and utilize that faith which leads to heartbreak, death, or both.


      Works Cited:

      Brown, Charles Brockden, et al. Wieland; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009. 5-183.

      “The Yates and the Beadle Family Murders.” Wieland; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009. 278-291.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on April 11, 2018

      I think Brown’s related text “The Difference Between History and Romance” could be used in relations to this paragraph. In the first paragraph of “The Difference Between History and Romance,” it stated history is fact, and romance is/can be fiction or not entirely true.  In life, people like to exaggerate when it comes to telling their life’s story we like to add fluffy to make our stories more interesting; be it scarier, funnier, happier, or sadder–in the same way like Brown states we try to reduce our experiences to make them closer to the story we want to tell.

      In this paragraph, it is based on the mother’s history, but as the reader or listener of the story, we have no way to tell if everything is in fact and not fiction without seeing those facts in person.

      Charles Brockden Brown, “The Difference Between History and Romance.” The Monthly Magazine and American Review 2:4 (April 1800)

      Comment by Aleida Luna on April 11, 2018

      “The Difference Between History and Romance” by Charles Brockden Brown, focuses on the correlation between history as documentation and romance as interpretation. Brown states, “History describes and documents the results of actions, while fiction investigates the possible conditions and motives that caused these actions” (195). According to Brown, the historian focuses on facts about events and behaviors, while the romancer concentrates on the why and how of the behavior and events. Brown exemplifies the history element in the novel by Clara’s detailed introduction of her family’s history. The history of her paternal side and the mysterious death of Mr. Wieland. The goal of “Wieland or the Transformation” is not solely for entertainment but to stimulate social awareness. Another key point is when Brown reflects an idea of romance when Clara states that she has never been afraid of shadows and how she considers apparitions and enchantments to be silly. However, when she mysteriously hears voices, her sentiment changes. She expresses, “Here were proofs of a sensible and intelligent existence, which could not be denied. Here was information obtained and imparted by means unquestionably super-human” (41). In this instance, her fear-driven superstitions make her contemplate the possibility of supernatural intervention. Brown suggests that the character of Clara Wieland or Frank Carwin need to be read as an exploration of present social dynamics instead of looking at the novel as a “terrific” tale of enchanting sensationalism at the expense of accuracy.
      Bernard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance” Wieland or the Transformation with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195-198.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on April 11, 2018

      In Charles Brockden Brown’s excerpt from “Terrific Novels” he makes it clear that he does not like the conventional gothic style, and that his own use of the gothic style is much more oriented toward modern life. Traditional gothic uses supernatural to “excite fear and suspense in their audience” (200). He makes it known that the only reason he calls novels that use sensational devices of mystery “terrific” because they are meant to generate terror, rather than a sense of excellence. While other writers focused on things like “castles, monks, and superstitions”(201) Brown’s own version of gothic is more centered around situations that could actually happen, such as mental illness. In Wieland, he makes it seem like supernatural things are happen, but the reader is left to guess until the end of the novel when it becomes known that nothing supernatural is going on, and it seems that Wieland has suffered a psychological break. In “Terrific Novels” is it said, “… Brown criticizes conventional gothic’s emphasis on premodern superstitions rather than the anxieties and stresses of contemporary life” (201). Brown says, “The Castle of Ottanto laid the foundation of a style of novel writing, which was carried to perfection by Mrs. Radcliff, and which may be called the terrific style“(201). It is clear that his is criticizing the novels that Mrs. Radcliff wrote because of their supernatural elements.


      Charles Brockden Brown, excerpt from “Terrific Novels.” The Literary Magazine and American Register 3:19 (April 1805)

      Brown, Charles Brockden, et al. Wieland; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on April 11, 2018

      Charles Brockden Brown’s “Letter to Samuel Miller of June 20, 1803” offers further details about Frank Carwin’s experiences in Spain. Brown explains that the reformation in religion was the most prominent movement in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire; individuals were divided between religionists, or christians, and atheists (226-227). In the eighteenth century the big question became whether Christ ever existed and how they could know whether there was any historical credibility to his existence. Brown details the colonization of ever more continents that establishes the Christians’ dominant influence over the world; he accurately claims that there is not a foreseeable end to wars or political division and that these conflicts will, in fact, spread throughout every part of the world. Brown concludes by writing that, even though printing and the availability of information has greatly increased, “…little knowledge of the world at large has been gained by European nations, during a century so active and enlightened” (229); there is still a large amount to be discovered and documented about other civilizations besides Europe. This letter from Brown to Samuel Miller expands upon the ideas Carwin presents in chapter eight of Wieland when he’s discussing his experiences in Spain and offers further explanations and clarity for readers. 

      Works Cited
      Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. “Charles Brockden Brown, Letter to Samuel Miller of June 20, 1803.” Wieland; or the Transformation, with Related Texts.  Hackett Pub. Co., 2009.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 11, 2018

      This paragraph stuck out to me because, from his recollection, he was having these self-questioning and worldly thoughts at such a young age. I also love that he said he was impressionable which is very true for a kid his age and all the things around him, like his parents and environment will affect how he will grow up. He is going through a spiritual crisis and questioning how involved the ‘Divine Ruler’ is in his everyday life. I think this was a very important and life-changing section for him.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on April 11, 2018

      This comment is of interest to me regarding the social perspective on psychological thoughts, feelings, and emotions of the time that Brown brings out more in his pieces than many authors we have read up to this point. He is more in depth into a person’s mindset, and even brings out drama and emotional turmoil and how it was painted over or perceived in the day. In Chapter XXI of Brown’s “Wieland, or the transformation with related texts, Brown brings out this very point by referring to social disorder or trauma as a “disease,” as Clara says, “I understood that he had frequently visited me during my disease,” referring to mental trauma or turmoil as a disease in this sense. This paragraph also similarly refers to social perspectives on communication, “According to his custom he spoke what he thought.” This compounds the idea of social regard to a person being highly dependent on their discourse, countenance, self-control, and the ability to remain within one’s senses, and if faltering or breaking in turn experiencing a type of mental “disease.”
      Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; Or the Transformation. An American Tale, with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on April 11, 2018

      In a short letter written to Samuel Miller in 1803, five years after the completion of Wieland; or the Transformation, Charles Brockden Brown criticizes simplistic views of global history in a two section argument and includes the nominalism of Christian history with a favor towards a broader perspective of history, and that society will continue to move towards globalization, creating an Empire. In his letter, Brown argues that the war over Catholicism and Protestantism has been completed and broader questions such as, “whether Christ himself ever existed,” are at the forefront of history, in place of nations fighting over religion, “This age has likewise been eminently distinguished from all others by the progress the european or christian nations made towards political ascendancy over the Earth to which they are destined to arrive (227). Brown’s perspective on the importance of the Christianity debate is exemplified in the novel where Pleyel mentions where he had met Carwin, “He expressed his astonishment at meeting our guest in this corner of the globe, especially as, when they parted in Spain, he was taught to believe that Carwin should never leave the country,” speaking to the implied importance of small nation values in Pleyel’s worldview, with the narrator then stating about Catholicism and Protestantism, “they speak the same dialects of the same tongue” (62). In his letter, Brown insists that imperialism and nonnationalism will lead to a world “in which the most distant parts of the will become members of the same vast community,” and “This age is distinguished from former ones by the extraordinary prevalence of this art [printing],” demonstrating that he believes that his age should not be defined by changes in nation state by religion but by global movement (228). In the above mentioned passage in the novel, Brown uses Carwin to speak to global movement, “they were formerly provinces of the same civil, and till lately, of the same religious, Empire,” demonstrating Brown’s view that the eighteenth century is marked by a global identity rather than a fued of religious nation states (62). Through his letter to Samuel Miller and through interaction between Pleyel and Carwin in Wieland; or the Transformation, Brown demonstrates his argument for broader analysis of the eighteenth century international history, beyond politics and religion, to better understand a global system of change, which he has, aptly, both perceived and predicted.

      Works Cited

      Brown, Charles Brockden. “Charles Brockden Brown, Letter to Samuel Miller of June 20, 1803.” Wieland; or the Transformation, with Related Texts. Edited by Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro, Hackett Pub. Co., 2009. pp. 223-230.

      Brown, Charles Brockden. Wieland; or the Transformation, with Related Texts. Edited by Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro, Hackett Pub. Co., 2009.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on April 11, 2018

      This paragraph fits well with the general message of Brown’s “Romances” from The Literary Magazine and American Register(1805). The main idea brought up in “Romances” is the value of new literature versus the value of old literature. Brown argues that the works that served to entertain and educate former generations will not be able to serve the new generation and that it is vital that these new ideas and perspectives are brought out in new forms of storytelling. Brown says that different time periods need texts that are, “…agreeable to our own conceptions of truth and nature” rather than conforming to the pre-established ideas from what were then seen as “novels”. This particular section of Wieland goes well with this message because it establishes new ideas that will serve the new age, in Brown’s opinion, better than that of the old texts. This section is involved with horror, gothic themes, and early psychology. These ideas weren’t entirely new for the time, but they served a changing American mindset better than a sermon, for example. Brown’s “Romances” brings up an interesting question to even readers in modern times: What is truly the best way to educate yourself with literature, and can a story actually be timeless?

      Charles Brockden Brown, “romances.” The Literary Magazine and American Register 3:16 (January 1805)

      Comment by Paige Hatch on April 11, 2018

      In this paragraph, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction because of the unreliability of the narrator at this point. In that way it relates to Charles Brockden Brown’s text “The Difference Between History and Romance”. Brown describes the difference between history and romance as history being fact. History is “a documented description” of events while romance falls more under fiction, and stories. This paragraph is his interpretation of his mothers history. There could be elements of what Brown would consider “romance”, although there is no way to be clear on this issue. The theme of fact versus fiction ties these two texts together.

      Bernard, Philip, Stephen Shapiro,editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance” Wieland or the Transformation with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009,pp. 195-199



      Comment by Anne Albertson on April 11, 2018

      Let us moralize on this passage, moralize here meaning to comment on the issues of right or wrong. This passage ends the tale of Wieland and leaves many unanswered questions. The narrator here admits or acknowledges that she is unreliable as a narrator and leaves the reader to discuss what the tale could be about and what message it is trying to leave us with. This passage can leave us with mixed emotions due to the genre of early american gothic romance. It brings in elements of horror and confusion whilst using an unreliable narrator to explain things to the reader. Will states in his article about Horror novels and state romance, “The sources from which we derive the knowledge of what is good and true, orginate from sensation, experience, refelction, reasoning. . . we then cannot avoid the deviations of fanaticism, and are easily led to confound our feelings and ideas with external effects” (Will).  Gothic romance throws readers into the story and into the loop without giving them a solid source of information, especially here in Wieland where our narrator herself eventually confirms herself as unreliable. Overall, when reading Wieland, readers need to keep in mind that what is learned should come from the own mind. Do not rely on the narrator or the blatant cries of false knowledge, allow yourself to open ones mind to take in this knew knowledge and allow it to be felt with own emotions, sensations, and experience while reading.

      Works Cited

      Will, Peter. “Preface of the Translator,” from The Victim of Magical Delusion; or, The Mystery of the Revolution of P-L: A Magico-Political Tale. Founded on Historical Facts, and Translated from the German of Cajetan Tschink. BP. Will. London: G. and J. Robinson, 1795. Print.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on April 12, 2018

      In the Literature and Cultural context section of the supplementary materials in our textbook, there is an entire section devoted to this particular scene where Clara recalls the story of the ballad, tying it to an earlier piece of Gothic poetry that “is legible as the primary reference in Clara’s evocation of an emotionally charged ballad” (310). This German ballad by Gottfried Burger, entitled Lenore, tells the frightening story of a young woman distraught when her soldier-fiance fails to return from battle, who renounces God entirely and desires to die until her fiancé unexpectedly returns to carry her away on horseback. However, his armor and flesh begin to disintegrate as they ride away, leaving a skeleton behind, and Lenore realizes that the ‘marriage bed’ that he is taking her to is actually a graveyard. This ballad was one of the first pieces of gothic poetry to create such a terrifying and vivid, sensational picture of such a scene, leading Brown to study it religiously, particularly its meticulous translation from German to English. It is considered that this piece was a primary reference and archetype for him in the chaotic spiral of Clara’s character as it progresses through the novel, as well as his aim in creating a story that caused the reader to experience the same emotions and anxieties of the character they are reading about, what the writers call “the construction of an intensified state of mind through physicalized gothic themes” (311). This parallel carries more depth as it is observed that “by introducing the ballad at a moment when Clara undergoes intensified and overwhelming emotional and physical responses, Brown links the reader’s experience to the newest sensational effects of literature”(312-313).


      Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; Or the Transformation. An American Tale, with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.


      Comment by Kayla Haley on April 12, 2018

      Throughout the short essay “The Difference Between History and Romance,” Charles Brockden Brown explains the difference between the historian and the romancer are. Brown states that “The observer or experimentalist, who carefully watches, and faithfully enumerates the appearances which occur may claim the appellation of the historian. he who adorns these appearances with cause and effect, and traces resemblances between the past, distant, and future..is, therefore, a romance” (Barnard 196). Brown then continues to express that the biggest difference between historian and romancer is motives explaining that motive can’t document but they continue to make stories important.This opening paragraph of the book looks at Clara as both historian and romancer. As she describes her intentions of sharing this tale she is a romancer describing that “the tale I am going to tell is not intended as a claim upon your sympathy”, but she is going to express the contemporary observations of her insights and experiences throughout the tale (Wieland). Then in later paragraphs, she lays out one of her motives for telling the story. Clara expresses that, “Every sentiment will yield to your amazement” (Wieland). As a historian, Clara observes her father the life he made for himself Clar expresses detail about her father and later foreshadows that her brother Weiland and her father will be shown to have many similarities although two separate beings. The descriptions we get from Clara to start to represent how she is both historian and romancer and will continue to represent both throughout the story.

      Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on April 12, 2018

      “History and romance are terms that have never been clearly distinguished… one dealt in fiction, and the other in truth,” Brown’s article “ The Difference Between History and romance” definitely is a counter argument for this statement that he begins his essay with. His point seems to be more along the lines of romance is part of history and help integrate society where the novel is in face what you read when you want to be entertained and fascinated by fiction tales. Weiland or The Transformation uses historical aspect of what was “common” beliefs at the time in order to teach a moral story but also incorporates different romanticized aspects to make the reading more relatable. The historian aspect Brown talks about in his article represent the characters in Wieland that view hard truths like cause and the effects, things that have been carefully looked at. The romanticist side are the character that see and fill in the gaps with things that could be there, they fill in the blank spaces with their ideas that are formed by upbringing and moral beliefs. Clara is seen in this book as being both a historian and a romancer. She clearly expresses the history of her family and even that have taken place in her family but also fills in the blanks in her story with her personal beliefs and assumption. There is even literal romantic notions toward other characters that Clara feels. Both her historical count of what happened and the romanticized aspects of it help create a story that has, or in theory should have, a way of bringing people into society standards. There is a different between history and romance, however they work hand in hand.
      Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on April 12, 2018

      In Charles Brockden Brown’s short essay, “The Difference Between History and Romance” Brown breaks down the difference between History and Romance while simultaneously going in deeper and distinguishing “the historian” and “the romancer.” Brown defines “the historian” as “The observer or experimentalist, who carefully watches, and faithfully enumerates the appearances which occur may claim the appellation of the historian.” In a similar manner he defines “the romancer” as “He who adorns these appearances with cause and effect, and traces resemblances between the past, distant, and future is, therefore, a romance.” History is concrete, its real and can be proven whereas Romance is more abstract, more of an idea or belief. In this paragraph we see history in the passing of time “six years” while this isn’t the focus it definitely makes a point in becoming important in the passage.  Romance enters as he speaks about the four children they are romanticized in the text especially the fourth, “The fourth was a charming babe” there is more to her, more to all of them not just children. 
      Bernard Philip, Stephen Shapiro,editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance” Wieland or the Transformation with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009,pp. 195-199, 

      Comment by Hillary Colton on April 22, 2018

      In Carl Bredhal’s, “The Two Portraits in ‘Wieland’, he argues that while many readers believe the end of Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland, or the Transformation, is sentimental (Clara and Pleyel leaving for Europe together), is not Brown’s intended meaning. Bredhal quotes Larzer Ziff, saying “life is far more complicated than his novels tell him that it is, that the virtue of maidenly reserve and the vice of masculine lusciousness are child’s play compared to the real horrors of life” (Bredhal 54). Bredhal uses the temple as a central symbol for change, saying “movement and growth in the natural world are contrasted with the permanence of the father’s ideals” (Bredhal 56). Here, Clara describes the setting of the temple using the words “fluctuating, rippling, rising,” to suggest movement. This could possibly mirror the changes happening during the time Brown wrote this novel. The true horrors that Clara experiences aren’t that of superstition, but lack of acceptance to the change at the end of the eighteenth century, “a shift toward internal or organic definition and toward function” (Bredhal 55). Brown’s intention with the ending of the novel may have been ambiguous to suggest that Clara’s efforts for transformation were “aborted” (Bredhal 59) when she and Pleyel left for Europe, and in doing so, they lacked individual sovereignty in their environment.


      Bredhal, A. Carl. “The Two Portraits in ‘Wieland.'” Early American Literature, vol. 16, no. 1, 1981, pp. 54-59. JSTOR. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25056400.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on April 26, 2018

      [Yet I will persist to the end. My narrative may be invaded by inaccuracy and confusion; but if I live no longer, I will, at least, live to complete it. What but ambiguities, abruptnesses, and dark transitions, can be expected from the historian who is, at the same time, the sufferer of these disasters?]

      When reading Charles Brockden Brown’s “Wieland”, one starts to notice some inconsistences within the narration and might possibly blame this on Brown as the author of this narrative. Readers will also see little blips such as this passage where the narrator, Clara, explicitly explains that her version of the narration could be inaccurate due to confusion. James R. Russo states this about Clara as a narrator, “. . .Wieland is told by a confessed madwoman, Clara Wieland, and her narrative seems incoherent at times because she is confused, not because Brown is” (Russo). Russo makes the point that readers cannot blame the wayward narration on the author, technically, he meant to write this narrative this way. He made the character of Clara the narrator and because she as a character is a confused woman, the narrative reflects the narrator. Clara admits her flaws, “. . .but her very admission may, ironically, prevent the reader from taking her warning seriously. When she confesses that her version of various actions and motivations depends upon “a coincidence of events” literal truth of her assertion may escape [even] the most alert reader” (Russo). Therefore, when readers do reach then end and the narrator once again addresses the audience and allows them to “moralize on the tale” so that they can decipher what is right and wrong within the narrative, they must keep in mind that it is also wrought with confusion due to the narrator herself, not the author. 

      Works Cited

      Russo, James R. “‘The Chimeras of the Brain’: Clara’s Narrative in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 16, no. 1, 1981, pp. 60–88. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25056401.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on April 26, 2018

      Bill Christophersen begins “Picking Up The Knife: A Psycho-Historical Reading of Wieland” with a detailed summary of Edwin S. Fussell’s comparison of Clara and Carwin to the American Revolution and post-revolutionary tension. According to Fussell, Clara represents the “daughter of the American Revolution” whereas Carwin represents the destruction of the revolution, and his biloquism, a symbol for Britain, is the means for the destruction (115). Ultimately, Christophersen argues that Wieland; or the Transformation represents an allegory for America, a new nation that lacks self-awareness and self-assertion and it is a tale born out of Charles Brockden Brown’s history of liberalism mixed with a moralism and anti-violence. The concept of transformation is attributed to Clara where she is a representative of America, she is wholly unaware of herself, but small aspects of her capacity for violence come up in passing instances (118). Thus, before the revolution, Clara was “sane and sensible,” but post-revolution, or with her transformation, she “thirsted for knowledge and vengeance” (119). Christophersen notes that the climax of Wieland; or the Transformation “echoes a complex national transformation,” and spells out that Clara, like America, had to fight a “former protector,” representing Britain. The author further clarifies that the entirety of the the Post-Revolutionary Era is seen in the “brother-turned-indiscriminate-murder,” which represents France (120). In the concluding pages of the article, Christophersen argues that as an “American Tale,” the novel depicts a family not unlike the insular, new american family, compounding the allegory of the history of the American Revolution and post-revolution (124).

      Christophersen, Bill. “Picking up the Knife: a Psychohistorical Reading of Wieland.” American Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, 1986, pp. 115–126. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40642098.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on April 27, 2018

      Andrew Scheiber’s article “The Arm Lifted against Me”: Love, Terror and the Construction of Gender in “Wieland” explores Clara’s gendered role in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. Scheiber points to patterns of Clara’s marginalization and enclosure throughout the story, specifically in relation to her role in the context of the familial structure of the story’s plot. Scheiber explains that, “though the Age of Reason invites her to identify herself with the life of the mind, Clara is barred by her womanhood from fully achieving such an identification, since the gender ideology of the times defines the intellect as secondary rather than primary, to the essence of “feminine” nature” (Schieber 178) which is an interesting perspective considering the emphasis on reason and intellect throughout the story, and the fact that Clara is the primary protagonist of the story. Schieber claims that when Clara questions the audience, “was I not likewise transformed from rational and human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes” (Brown 137) that she is exposing her “self-condemnation” that is born out of the gendered system that relates “rational” and “human” on the masculine side of gender axis, and the negation of those qualities to the feminine side of the axis.

      Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.
      Scheiber, Andrew J. “‘The Arm Lifted against Me’: Love, Terror, and the Construction of Gender in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1991, pp. 173–194.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 30, 2018

      In Charles Brockden Brown’s article, “The Difference between History and Romance” he writes about the novel, Wieland, and the relationship that the novel has between history and romance. He explains how history and romance are intertwined and how imperfections of man are part of our future, present, and past. In this paragraph, Clara is overtaken by her senses of this man, “I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life”.  Clara is an irrational character taken over by romantic ideas. Her history and her future are based on her emotional decisions. There is no separation between the two. Brockden Brown writes, “when busy in assigning motives to actions, are not historians but romancers.” Which relates directly to what is happening to Clara in this passage. When talking about history, it is the “noting and recording of the actions of men” which I think is very important because mankind is often if not always driven by passion and emotion. This also plays well with the strong theme of passion and emotion that is current throughout Wieland and all the characters

      Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.

  • Phillis Wheatley, <i>Poems</i> (30 comments)

    • Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 5, 2018

      Cynthia Smith closely examines Phillis Wheatley’s Poem “To Maecenas”, while specifically addressing stanza three (paragraph 6). Smith notices the juxtaposition of “the idealized past with her own troubled present,” as the premise of the third stanza (584). Line three of the stanza expresses how Wheatley feels as though she would be more successful writing in another time, as she wishes, “could I rival thine and Virgil’s page”. This reinforces Smith’s idea that Wheatley idealizes the past and understands that her writing does not carry the same weight in the present, as “She has no perfect reader, no Maecenas to her Virgil” (585). The idea of living in a troubled present is continued in lines 29 and 30 of “Maecenas”. Here she recognizes that “here I sit, and mourn a grov’ling mind, /That faim would mount, and ride upon the wind” (29-30). Smith constitutes this to Wheatley’s “sense of inadequacy at being black or to show her presumed ambivalence about her blackness” (586). Wheatley emphasizes her love of the past as compared to the trials she currently faces through racism and inequality in her poem, “Maecenas”.   

      Smith, Cynthia J. “‘To Maecenas’: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader.” Black American Literature Forum, vol. 23, no. 3, 1989, pp. 579–592. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2904208.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 6, 2018

      In his article “Phillis Wheatley’s Appropriation of Isaiah,” William J. Scheick discusses how Wheatley uses allusions to scriptures in Isaiah as a way to equalize race. Scheick shows us through his article that Wheatley interprets these passages as spiritual attributes rather than physical. He says that Wheatley believed both black and white people to be “benighted,” or spiritually black, and that they must become spiritually white through Christ. To do so, these people must be “trained” to become part of the “angelic train” that Wheatley mentions. Through her own interpretations of scripture, Scheick points out that she relies on the scriptures at first, but then takes on a ministerial voice. Scheick says, “Wheatley initially seems to defer to scriptural authority, then transforms this legitimation into a form of artistic self-empowerment, and finally appropriates this biblical authority through an interpreting ministerial voice” (138). Through this self-empowerment and ministerial voice, Wheatley shows the reader just how refined she is both culturally and spiritually.
      Scheik, William J. “Phillis Wheatley’s Appropriation of Isaiah.” Early American Literature, Vol. 27, No. 2, University of North Carolina Press, 1992, North Carolina, pp. 135-140.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on March 8, 2018

      In Cynthia Smith’s “‘To Maecenas’: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader” she discusses the first two lines of this poem. She states that “Many of the problems in the poem clear up if one expands the meaning of the word patron” (583). She says that Maecenas is not addressed as a provider of material support, but rather as a sympathetic reader, maybe even as a critic. Smith states, “By addressing Maecenas on the basis of this shared sensibility, the speaker lifts herself above the narrowness and limitations of race, and places herself in an idealized community” (583). Smith also says that if, because Wheatley is an African American, and cannot write poetry, she can write it to Maecenas because he is from an idealized past. Also because of his taste, his knowledge, and his love for poetry, he will not allow himself to discriminate against inspiration on the basis of race. Smith also states that, “The use of apostrophe, of a direct address to Maecenas, serves as an image of invested passion; it shows how deep the speaker’s personal investment is in the poem’s discussion” (583). She also talks about how this apostrophe to Maecenas substitutes an idealized past for the speaker and suggests that the world on classical antiquity was a time and place that might have accepted the speaker as a poet. These are interesting thoughts because when you read the poem for the first time, this is probably not what comes to your mind. However, after reading Smith’s journal, it is easy to see where her thoughts are coming from.


      Smith, Cynthia J. “‘To Maecenas’: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader.” Black American Literature Forum, vol. 23, no. 3, 1989, pp. 579–592. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2904208.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 8, 2018

      In Phillip M. Richards article titled, “Phillis Wheatley and Literary Americanization, Richards argues that Wheatley was heavily influenced by her ambivalence as it concerned her identity. The ambivalence and perhaps even “self-hatred” that Richards suggests can be seen in the following stanzas, when Wheatley writes, “They fan you in the bright immortal fire,/But I less happy, cannot raise the song,” (NAAL 811). Richards suggests that Wheatley feels as though she “cannot raise the song” due to her social experience.

      Richards states that, while Wheatley was a slave, she isolated herself from other slaves and, when it came to the white community, she had a somewhat tentative relationship. While Wheatley may have been invited to mingle with whites, it was as a guest or an exception–even, as Richards suggests, “a showpiece novelty” (Richards 166). Richards suggests that this unstable, tentative ground of socialization that Wheatley stands on is reflected in her writing. Wheatley was not part of a dominant culture–she was not fully assimilated into either the black nor the white community, making her ambivalent in her writing. This ambivalence is the reason that “The fault’ring music dies upon my tongue.” (NAAL 811). Wheatley’s isolation, or lack of community when it comes to her social standings can be seen in this stanza and her writing.

      Richards, Phillip M. “Phillis Wheatley and Literary Americanization.” American Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 2, 1992, pp. 163–191. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2713039.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on March 9, 2018

      The article I read by Eleanor Smith titled, “Phillis Wheatley: A Black Perspective” 

      brought out some interesting insights into the perspective of Wheatley that I thought applied to this poem and this paragraph specifically because of the clear use of scripture and historical turmoil without explicitly stating race. The article professes that Wheatley is extraordinarily intelligent and has incredible historical value, however it questions whether or not her writings were of value to the African American culture as far as that her works do not explicitly speak to race.  In this paragraph specifically, she speaks of being prompted to write, and speaks of her “native shore,” even equating that shore to Egypt, alluding to the Isrealites wandering the desert and being slaves in their own land. However, this relationship between slavery and her situation are not outwardly spoken upon or openly presented. The article brings out that because these connections must be ascertained rather than being outwardly spoken, and therefore it is of question whether she is a beacon of hope for her race or rather simply not interested in outwardly discussing the issue of race and slavery during this time. It could be, the article brings out, due to her religion speaking of peace and “safety” that she chooses to seemingly ignore the issue of race. However, this paragraph clearly beings out that she does allude to connections between her situation and scriptural slavery situations speaking to both her race and religion.

      Smith, E. (1974). Phillis Wheatley: A Black Perspective. The Journal of Negro Education, 43(3), 401-407. doi:10.2307/2966531

      Comment by Kayla Smith on March 10, 2018

      In her journal article, “Becoming Colored in Occom and Wheatley’s Early America” Katy L. Chiles takes a moment to reflect on Phillis Wheatley’s second reference to “dies” and what it represents in the poem “Thoughts on the WORKS of PROVIDENCE”. Chiles states that Wheatley calls back to the earlier used term in order to, in this passage, draw parallels between people of color and God. In this way, Chiles argues, Wheatley is able to create a defensible position for her and other darkly skinned individuals, because she “intimates that she herself is infused with the same kind of ‘die'” as God is (1410). In this particular stanza, Wheatley changes the imagery and therefore the perception of those beings that are tied to the “die” and what it represents. Chiles concludes that this use of reason is a valid one in making Wheatley one of God’s works, and not something wicked or otherwise unworthy of God’s or (white) people’s goodwill.

      Work Cited

      Chiles, Katy L. “Becoming Colored in Occom and Wheatley’s Early America.” PMLA, vol. 123, no. 5, 2008, pp. 1398–1417. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25501943.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on March 11, 2018

      In Cynthia Smith’s, “To Maecenas”: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader” She dissects Phillis Wheatley’s Poem, “To Maecenas”. She states, “It seems to suggest, that the historical Maecenas was himself a writer whose genius equaled that of the poets to whom he was patron.”(Smith) Instead of developing this notion, the poem goes on to discuss a personal response to the epics of Homer and Virgil. Wheatley says, “The Nine inspire, and all the bosom glows. O could I rival thine and Virgil’s page, Or claim the Muses with the Mantuan Sage.”(Wheatley) The entire poem seems to be an homage to literary greats. This reinforces Smith’s idea that Wheatley idealizes the past and understands that her writing isn’t as strong or iconic and won’t have the same effect in the present as it did when it was wrote. “She has no perfect reader, no Maecenas to her Virgil”(Wheatley). The idea of patronage is central to the poem, but Wheatley, as we shall see, uses it for purposes that transcend self-interest. Smith claims, “Even outside classical circles the name Maecenas has become a byword for patron” (Smith) She goes on to touch upon the issue that only the wealthy and powerful had a say in the world much of how it is in present day. By forming the bridge between history being repeated due to the same statures in power she subliminally, connects the past in her writing making it relevant to present day.
      Smith, Cynthia J. “‘To Maecenas’: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader.” Black American Literature Forum, vol. 23, no. 3, 1989, pp. 579–592. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2904208.





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      Comment by Ries Cope on March 11, 2018

      Phillis Wheatly’s poem “To The University of Cambridge in New England,” she writes to the students and requests of them that they take advantage of the opportunities that they’ve been given and that they protect themselves from sin. However, the odd aspect of the poem is the way in which Wheatley refers to herself. Jamison notes that “…she refers to the students, who were obviously white, as practically God-like…”(Jamison 412). Wheatley advises the students with wisdom, but refers to herself in the third person as, “An Ethiop…” (line 18). Wheatley inflicts this racial derogation on herself, which is reflective of her opinion about her race. Jamison says that this, “…reflects a lack of self-worth particularly within the context of the poem. If an Ethiop is aware of the danger of sin then certainly these ‘blooming plank of human race divine,’ those who belong to the best race, should also be aware” (Jamison 412). Wheatley’s self-image seen throughout her poetry reflects not only on herself, but on the era that she lived in. Oftentimes, she is referred to as the first African American poet. She paved the way for others to rise above oppression and follow her path, yet she held no pride in her own accomplishments or history.


      Work Cited

      Jamison, Angelene. “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 43, no. 3, 1974, pp. 408–416. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2966532.




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      Comment by Denise Holbrook on March 11, 2018

      In the article “Phillis Wheatley: The Dark Side of the Poetry” author Terence Collins argues that Wheatley’s reference to the “diabolic die” is a reference that works to impel the prejudice belief of the inherit evil of the African American, which myth had perpetuated the story that throughout time this “evil” has been reflected in their dark skin tone, as descendants of Cain. Collins claims that Wheatley’s references to a “diabolic die” and persons “black as Cain” in the poem is, “an implicit affirmation of the very indictment that she seeks to refute” (83). While in her works Wheatley  generally promotes a message of freedom and equality for the enslaved African American, the way Collins reads the close of this poem Wheatley seems to acknowledge a defect or stain on the African American’s soul that makes them have a, “corrupt moral nature” (83). As Collins reads the piece the “diabolic die” that Wheatley speaks of is a cardinal stain upon the soul of the African American and the final line of the poem describes that they can only hope to be “refined” enough for admittance to the “angelic train”. Collins describes the act of refinement as the complete rejection of African culture in favor of the appropriation of the moral virtues of the white Christian.

      Collins, Terence. “Phillis Wheatley; The Dark Side of the Poetry.” Phylon (1960-), vol. 36, no. 1, 1975, pp. 78–88. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/274847.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on March 11, 2018

      In Mary Balkun’s article “Phillis Wheatley’s Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology”, Balkun argues for Wheatley’s “cultural awareness” (129). Wheatley attempts to turn the tables on her audience; the goal is for the audience to learn from her, to gain perspective. When Wheatley refers to “diabolic die”, she is doing just that. “Suddenly the audience is given an opportunity to view racism from a new perspective, and to either accept or reject this new ideological position” (130). Wheatley’s use of quotations implies that someone is speaking, and what is important is her lack of specification on who is speaking. In doing this, Wheatley allows her strategy to work; she is “reinforcing the similarities” (130) between Christians; therefore, drawing parallels between race and Christianity. Balkun suggests that Wheatley uses the term “diabolical die” interchangeably: “It is the racist posing as a Christian who has become diabolical” (130). In the final lines, Wheatley is drawing another parallel when she groups “Christians”, “Negros” and “Cain” together. Here, as with “diabolic die”, Wheatley places no blame. Instead, she leaves the meaning open to interpretation from her audience; she allows the audience to ponder who will “join th’ angelic train”.  As with Wheatley’s use of “diabolical die”, the audience is left without specific direction. This leaves Wheatley with a sense of authority, and with hope her audience will too make the connection needed for redemption.


      Balkun, Mary McAleer. “Phillis Wheatley’s Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology.” African American Review, vol. 36, no. 1, 2002, pp. 121-135. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2902270.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on March 11, 2018

      Phillis Wheatley begins and ends the poem by praising Maecenas. She goes on to state that she will praise them and hopefully write as well as they did. Throughout the poem, Wheatley also mentions various Greek gods and even other authors such as Homer and Terence. John Shields in his essay “Phillis Wheatley’s use of classicism” he addresses the fact that Wheatley comes from a slavery background and a background with limited education which has been thought to be the reason she addresses other great authors to compare herself to. She wants to be an amazing author and she ask that she can be with the right support, but because of the time she lives in, Shields argues that slavery and lack of education will keep her from becoming great. The narrator in the poem addresses Maecenas and insults the institution that keeps Wheatley and others in bondage because of their supposedly inferior intelligence. According to Shields, this poem in particular, suggested that she had more on her mind than conformity. She definitely doesn’t follow the typical standards of writing and what was considered normal in that time. She prayed to different gods about her mistress and uses inspiration from other authors. This poem is different from all of the other readings we have don’t in the past in the simple sense that she isn’t looking for grace, or to be one the elect or anything else like the typical writers we have been reading about, rather, according to Shields she uses classicism and her form to prove her points.


      Shields, John C. “Phillis Wheatley’s Use of Classicism.” American Literature, vol. 52, no. 1, 1980, pp. 97–111. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2925190.

      Comment by Erin McManis on March 12, 2018


      In the article Who Are Lost and How They’re Found: Redemption and Theodicy in Wheatley Newton, and Cowper by Jeffrey Bilbro he points out that Wheatley is writing on her own theodicy. He believes that her poem “On Being Brought from Africa to America” gives us a complex rhetorical answer to a question asked by William Cowper- How God might bring some good from the evil slave trade? Wheatley describes the slave trade as being merciful. Dwight McBride argues “Wheatley seperates the two issues that are so easily conflated…her gratitude for redemption as opposed to her condemnation of slavery.” (565) This speaks powerfully to 18th century evangelicals who saw the slave trade as evil but also as seeing God’s sovereignty by having a providencial hand in it.

      BILBRO, JEFFREY. “Who Are Lost and How They’re Found: Redemption and Theodicy in Wheatley Newton, and Cowper.” Early American Literature, vol. 47, no. 3, 2012, pp. 561–589. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41705691.


      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 12, 2018

      Data Visualization for Wheatley’s poems.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on March 12, 2018

      In the journal, Phillis Wheatley and Literary Americanization Phillip M. Richards talks about the “mental voice” that Phillis Wheatley mentioned within her poem Thoughts in the Works of Providence. Within his journal, Richards describes the “mental voice” as “glory of God is a kind of speech which is heard wherever there is ‘speech or language’; that is, wherever there are men.” The “mental voice” is to relay the message of His Grace through a persona, an evidence to God’s glory. Richards goes on to explain that the “mental voice as a visions/dreams. It wants to put more emphasis on a person’s belief in God.

      Richards, Phillip M. “Phillis Wheatley and Literary Americanization.” American Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 2, 1992, pp. 163–191. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2713039.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 12, 2018

      Arthur P. Davis analyzes Phillis Wheatley’s poetry under a different lens than most other critics of her work. Many critics seem to think that Wheatley pays little attention to the position of both herself and her people as African slaves, yet Davis writes that close readers of Wheatley’s poetry can see that “in spite of the generally held contrary opinion she is definitely race conscious” (192). Davis points out that Wheatley often mentions that she is an “Afric poet” in her works in order to use her race and condition to her advantage (192). He goes on to support this idea using the third stanza of her poem “To the University of Cambridge, in New England”. In warning the well-educated white men of the dangers of sin, Wheatley refers to herself as “An Ethiop” (28). Davis argues that this is an “obvious contrast between her own disadvantage as a slave…and the silver-spoon opportunities of these Harvard young men” (193). To Davis, this one small mention of Wheatley’s background is an indication that she did indeed know that her race was not on equal standing with the white Americans, but instead of using her experiences as a black slave to fight against her poor situation, she used it bolster her messages to her white audience.
      Work Cited
      Davis, Arthur P. “Personal Elements in the Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” Phylon (1940-1956), vol. 14, no. 2, 1953, pp. 192–193. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/271667.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on March 12, 2018

      In Hilene Flanzbaum’s article “Unprecedented Liberties: Re-Reading Phillis Wheatley”, Flanzbaum argues that Phillis Wheatley’s muse poems allow Wheatley to assert her own opinions and voice them without being controlled by the views of her master; through the muse poems she is able to address subjects without her master’s interference. Flanzbaum states that within the poem “To Mæcenas”, Wheatley addresses the white, wealthy poet as her muse because her needs are material. Without her muse she would have no creative inspiration, similarly, without the help of her white masters Wheatley’s work would never have reached an audience; she never would have been able to begin writing without their help. Through this poem, according to Flanzbaum, Wheatley is asserting that she will serve her masters so long as they allow her to write but she draws inspiration from a source more powerful than them. Wheatley finds some solace through this poem by declaring that she truly serves her muse, an individual that is even more powerful and authoritative than the whites that control her. In support of Flanbaum’s argument, Wheatley is voicing her opinions in a way that she cannot be punished or restricted from doing.

      Flanzbaum, Hilene. “Unprecedented Liberties: Re-Reading Phillis Wheatley.” MELUS, vol. 18, no. 3, 1993, pp. 71–81. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/468067.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on March 12, 2018

      Phillis Wheatley is most often cited as the first early Black American poet, according to Angelene Jamison’s article, “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley“. While Jamison doesn’t deny the point, she is quick to point out that Wheatley was educated on literature written by Whites, wrote predominantly for Whites, and didn’t necessarily “address herself in any significant degree to the plight of her people” (408). If anything, Wheatley’s poems reflect a strongly religious self-image as evidenced in “On Being Brought from Africa to America”. Jamison references the instances of color in the poem and argues that it illustrates at least a partial acknowledgement by Wheatley of “the existing attitudes of Whites towards Blacks” (412). As well as evidence of Wheatley’s deeply religious ideals and expressions of gratitude for the introduction of that religion, this poem (and others) also demonstrates what Jamison calls “white orientation” and Wheatley’s belief of her own inferiority, due in part to the color of her skin.


      Jamison, Angelene. “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 43, no. 3, 1974, pp. 408-416.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 12, 2018

      In an article entitled “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley”  Angelene Jamison examines poetry by Wheatley through a racial lens of self worth. Jamison acknowledges that Phillis Wheatley wrote many of her poems for white people such as her owner. Because of the harsh racial separations of the time period that Wheatley wrote in, Jamison claims aspects of Wheatley’s own self worth are reflected in her poems. These images of self worth that readers get through her poems show the influence of white culture on Wheatley. Jamison specifically focuses on the last four lines of the poem “To the University of Cambridge, in New England” in his analysis. He claims that here “she refers to the students, who were obviously white, as practically God-like” (Jamison) while she refers to herself as “an Ethiop”. Jamison claims that her referring to herself as an Ethiop “reflects a lack of self-worth” (Jamison). This reading of the poetry that Wheatley wrote shows readers the influence that power has on an oppressed race.

      Works Cited

      Jamison, Angelene. “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 43, no. 3, 1974, pp. 408–416. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2966532.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on March 12, 2018

      In his article Appropriation of Isaiah William J. Scheick observes the spiritual and racial issues in the poem “Being Brought from Africa to America” by Phillis Wheatley. Scheick argues that Wheatley is no barbarian from a “pagan land” as her critics claim.  She fails to address slavery issues in her poetry. For instance, she opens the brief poem expressing her gratitude for her extraction from a pagan country. She states, “Twas mercy brought me from my pagan land” (line 1). According to her critics, her choice of language demonstrates her repudiation of her sinful African heritage. However, Scheick sustains that Wheatley wrote the poem to prove her love for her people. She writes, “Some view our sable race with scornful eye, “their color is a diabolic die” (5-6). Scheick states that she is very much aware of the racism and inequality toward her black race. Notwithstanding, she makes references to biblical allusions to dismiss assertions of spiritual distinctions between the white and black race. She writes, “Remember, Christians, Negro, black as Cain, may be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train” (7-8). Wheatley is suggesting that Cain symbolizes both race’s sinful nature and alludes that they can be beneficiaries of spiritual refinement joining the “angelic train” by divine grace. Scheick attributes the success of the poem to “the blooming graces” because it represents both races culturally and spiritually.


      Phillis Wheatley’s Appropriation of Isaiah
      Author(s): William J. Scheick
      Source: Early American Literature, Vol. 27, No. 2 (1992), pp. 135-140 Published by: University of North Carolina Press
      Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25056895




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      Comment by Ky Alexander on March 12, 2018

      In “‘To Maecenas’: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader,” Cynthia J. Smith undertakes a line by line analysis of Phillis Wheatley’s poem, “To Maecenas,” to explore the meaning of the poem beyond an ode to patron themes. The intent of this analysis is to demonstrate that the details of the poem point to a commentary on reader and audience relationship, whereby the poet can find an unjudging audience in patrons such as Maceanas and Homer through Alexander Pope. Smith comments that the poem has not been deeply analyzed because the use of multiple audiences has been perceived as disjointed. Smith explains that the poet addressing both Maceanas and Homer shows that Wheatley “idealized past was a time in which she might have been more successful” (585). By invoking an audience of the past, Wheatley may be looking for the “right kind of reader,” or an audience that perceives people as equals that read poetry “across barriers of race” (580, 590). Smith maintains that the poet is using the past to speak to the present by using patron figures as a sounding board for her poetry to be read uncensored, where in her world, as a black slave, prejudice prevents her work from being indiscriminately read.

      Smith, Cynthia J. “‘To Maecenas’: Phillis Wheatley’s Invocation of an Idealized Reader.” Black American Literature Forum, vol. 23, no. 3, 1989, pp. 579–592. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2904208.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on March 12, 2018

      In Mary McAleer Balkun’s article “Phillis Wheatley’s Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology” Balkun argues that Wheatley’s cultural awareness and rhetorical skill helps her to create complex poems about religion and slavery that were not immediately dismissed by slave owners. Balkun states that Wheatley intentionally confuses her reader with certain words and messages throughout her poem, “On being brought from Africa to America”, for example the word mercy in the first line does not tell the reader if the mercy comes from the white man or God himself. The complexity and mixing of religious and slave related themes creates a poem that pleases a wide range of people while being truly understood by certain types of individuals. Balkun says, ” The speaker, carefully aligning herself with those readers who will under stand the subtlety of her allusions and references, creates a space wherein she and they are joined against a common antagonist: the “some” who “view our sable race with scornful eye” (5)”(129-130). Balkun claims that the careful writing of this poem creates a divide in the mind of the understanding and knowledgeable reader where they must pick the side of religion for all of God’s creations, including the black Christians, or the side of discriminatory religion.

      Balkun, Mary McAleer. “Phillis Wheatley’s Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology.” African American Review, vol. 36, no. 1, 2002, pp. 121–135. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2903370.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on March 12, 2018

      In Angelene Jamison’s article, “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley” from the Journal of Negro Education, she writes that in this poem, Whealtey “shows her gratitude for having been taken from what she perceived as a pagan land, brought to America and taught Christianity.” In this article, Jamison makes reference to the fact that Wheatley isn’t proud of her heritage. She often doesn’t refer to herself in her poems and writes “to whites for whites.” She believes she was saved from Africa and is thankful for her life in America, despite being a slave. But Wheatley also makes it clear that she believes she is equally as allowed to be saved by God, just like the “Whites” because God is an “impartial” and “merciful” Savior that doesn’t see race.  Jamison explains that many of her poems reflect her feelings towards religion and express piety and the hope to earn God’s approval into heaven. This can be seen in “On being brought from AFRICA to AMERICA” in her lines “Remember, Christians, Negros, b’lack as Cain,/ May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.” Wheatley expresses her desire to go to heaven and how she believes if she follows the word of God, this is all possible.

      Jamison, Angelene. “Analysis of Selected Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 43, no. 3, 1974, pp. 408–416. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2966532

      Comment by Anne Albertson on March 12, 2018

      Phillis Wheatley is a poet that gives many personal elements to her poems that allows readers to understand what their thoughts were at the time of writing. This paragraph gives forth many natural aspects such as “nature’s constant voice; the fost’ring rains and dews; mercy shine” these things give a natural feel to the poem and also draws in the aspect of nature. In Arthur P. Davis’s journal article, “Personal Elements in the Poetry of Phyllis Wheatley” he eludes to these natural aspects. He states, “she is convinced that “an intrinsic [natural] ardor”‘l prompts her to write; she wishes to cultivate virtue to learn “a better strain, a nobler lay”” These natural aspects allowed her to hone in on a certain part of her that her inspiration and courage to write came from. She stayed strong and focused on the nature in life and let the natural things occur, merely documenting the thoughts and feelings surrounding her.

      Davis, Arthur P. “Personal Elements in the Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” Phylon (1940-1956), vol. 14, no. 2, 1953, pp. 191–198. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/271667.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on March 12, 2018

      In her analytical article, titled ‘Philis Wheatley’s Vocation and the Paradox of the ‘Afric Muse’’, author Paula Bennett attempts to explain the racial tensions in Wheatley’s complaint poem, “To Maecenas”, by addressing Wheatley’s “rage at the limitations slavery imposed on her and her commitment to a vocation from whose full practice she felt barred” (64). After giving a detailed account of her unexpectedly rich education for a slave, Bennett states that “None of Wheatley’s poems expresses more fully her desire to participate in Western culture and her bitterness at her exclusion from it that “To Maecenas”” (66). Prior to this paragraph, Wheatley uses her extensive knowledge of neoclassical references to solidify and legitimize her status as a poet, which she finds to be hopeless in the selected paragraph. Wheatley yearns to “ride upon the wind” and knows that she cannot because of her dark skin. Bennett concludes her article with the assertion that “In heaven, if nowhere else, (African) artists such as Wheatley would no longer be compelled to steal their laurels from Maecenas’s head. They would have “gem-blazed” crowns of their own and would take their rightful places in “the heav’nly choirs”” (71). Here we see even the spunky Wheatley resign herself to her fate and accept the religious views of those around her to justify the unjust postponing of her recognition and legitimization of her role and vocation as an early African American poet.
      Bennett, Paula. “Phillis Wheatley’s Vocation and the Paradox of the ‘Afric Muse.’” PMLA, vol. 113, no. 1, 1998, pp. 64–76. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/463409.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 12, 2018

      Throughout the article, “Becoming Colored in Occom and Wheatley’s Early America“, Katy L. Chiles compares the letter’s exchanged between the two writers and how their ideas both compare and differentiate from each other. Focusing specifically on Wheatley’s poetry Chiles argues that Wheatley’s poetry “rethinks how human difference is used to cohere an ontological identity category, here to justify slavery”. For example, we see that when Wheatley refers to the sunlight, comparing it to the “Abhor[ed] life” of her race under the “Lenth’ne chain”(Lines 35-36) Connecting the sun to her life suggests that  “divinely bestowed blackness becomes problematic only when linked directly to slavery” (Chiles). Wheatly emphasizes the blackness as a characteristic God himself has created. Highlighting the idea of Natural philosophy, Chiles makes the point that Wheatly uses this idea to show how blackness is a quality  has purposely provided. Blackness is one of the many colors that has been created and it is a part of God’s plan to “Vary the progeny” of this creation.

      Chiles, Katy L. “Becoming Colored in Occom and Wheatley’s Early America.” PMLA, vol. 123, no. 5, 2008, pp. 1398–1417. JSTOR, JSTOR.





      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 13, 2018

      Wheatley’s use of muse poems addresses her desire to find a place in society where she is recognized for her writing rather than her skin color.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 13, 2018

      Our group’s thesis:

      Through Phillis Wheatley’s education in a white household, she gained great understanding of biblical references and used these to write to an audience that is both black and white, secular and religious.

      Comment by Ries Cope on March 13, 2018

      In her poems, Phillis Wheatly conveys the perspective of an African American without explicitly stating the racial inequalities of her time.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on March 13, 2018

      In Phillis Wheatley’s “To Maceanas” Wheatley seems to invoke ancient poetic patrons and figures to show that she will never be within the same poetic realm and that this realm serves as a racially unprejudiced audience.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 13, 2018

      Throughout Phillis Wheatley’s poem “Thoughts on the Works of Providence” Wheatley uses both God and nature to express ideas of black spirituality.

  • Edward Taylor, Preparatory Meditations (26 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 22, 2018

      Data visualization for Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 26, 2018

      Robert Reither addresses Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations: Meditation 26, second series”. This passage directly acknowledges Taylor’s sins in passage 46 and exemplifies the need to be clean before one can enter into heaven. According to Reither, this means his sins must be washed away before he can enter “church fellowship and … heaven” (120). During the second part of this passage, Taylor asks specific questions relating to his sins and how he will be made clean. These questions are answered in the following stanzas of the 26th meditation.


      Reiter, Robert E. “Poetry and Typology: Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations’, Second Series, Numbers 1-30.” Early American Literature, vol. 5, no. 1, 1970, pp. 111–123. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25070450.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 26, 2018

      Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations: A Decorum of Imperfection by Charles W. Mignon discuss’s how Taylor’s prologue offers insight into his poems. Explaining how Taylor attempts to use his writing to praise God. Mignon explains how in the second stanza of the prologue when Taylor says “It would but blot and blur, yea, jag and jar, unless thou mak’st the pen and scribener.” Taylor is asking God to give him Grace so that he is able to write a praiseworthy, heavenly poem. Through the entirety of the stanza, Taylor is asking God to bless his pen with grace because even “If it pen had of an angel’s quill, And sharpened on a precious stone ground tight, And dipped in liquid gold, and moved by skill In crystal leaves should golden letters write, It would but blot and blur” Taylor’s saying no matter how holey the pen or writer is, no man on his own will can create any praise of God worthwhile, unless God himself gives grace to the material and by grace enables the poet to write.


      Work Cited
      Mignon, Charles W. “Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection.” PMLA, vol. 83, no. 5, 1968, pp. 1423–1428. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1261315

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 27, 2018

      The “Bird of Paradise” in this paragraph is described by Clark Griffith as a representation of our souls. The bird feeds on the forbidden fruit, and falls into “Celestial Famine” because of its sin. It’s eventually saved by the bread given to the bird from God, who baked the bread and ground the flour. Griffith shows us that in Taylor’s poem, the bird is like our souls, “partaking of both sin and salvation” (Griffith), and the bird is trapped in an earthly cage, similar to us being trapped in our material and earthly bodies. The only way the bird survives is through its dependency upon God for the nourishment that leads to its salvation. Griffith points out that the metaphors used throughout Meditation 8 can range from simple to “contrastingly complex and inventive” (Griffith). Taylor uses bases and motifs from Genesis 2 and the rest of the Gospels, and then begins to add more of his own imagination and creativity to them to make them more unique. Griffith points out that from a Puritan perspective, Taylor has probably seen too much, or “beholds Godhead with far too great a degree of intimacy” (Griffith), yet his poems give us an insight into how metaphors were used by Puritans.

      Griffith, Clark. “Edward Taylor and the Momentum of Metaphor.” ELH, vol. 33, no. 4, 1966, pp. 448–460. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2872201.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 29, 2018

      Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection, written by Charles W. Mignon, argues against critics who claim Taylor to be a primarily metaphysical poet. Throughout the article, Mignon points to various poems to win this argument, but in this stanza, we see Taylor allude to absolute sovereignty, which Mignon and I will both agree separates Taylor from metaphysical poetry. Taylor refers to himself as “a Crumb of Dust”. Mignon argues this referral relates to Taylor’s commitment to his possible election; “…even in the elect there is an irreconcilable war between the flesh and the spirit” (Mignon). Without grace, Taylor views his writing as a failure. His poetry directly relates to his election, and it is not by Taylor’s hand or imagination that his poetry will succeed, it is by the hand of God.

      Mignon, Charles W. “Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection.” PMLA, vol. 83, no. 5, 1968, pp. 1423–1428. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1261315.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on January 29, 2018

      Joseph M. Garrison addresses Edward Taylor’s style and theme in his Meditations as adding to the emotion of the topics he is discussing. Garrison points out that in Taylor’s Meditations he references poetic structure and implies that worship would not prosper without structure. Specifically in this stanza, Taylor uses structure and voice to stress his religious uneasiness as shown in the line “That I may enter…” and then goes into express Taylor’s “oneness” and relationship with God. Garrison points out that the structure and verses are a large part of what gets Taylor’s puritan views across so well to the readers because of how he uses tone and ties it all together throughout all of his Meditations. While words are important, this article points out the importance of the writers thought process in the structure and how that also ties into the meaning and the writers tone.



      Garrison, Joseph M. “The ‘Worship-Mould’: A Note on Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations.’” Early American Literature, vol. 3, no. 2, 1968, pp. 127–131. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25070368.

      Comment by Erin McManis on January 30, 2018

      Mignon notes that the prologue raises questions while also giving clues to Taylor’s attitude to poetry. It also brings us to the matter of decorum. While Taylor’s writings have thrown him into the cluster of metahysical poets, when we look at decorum, and choice, plus organization of his metaphors, we distinguish him from other English metaphysicals. To see this decorum, we can firstly look at his prologue to preparatory meditations. He notes that Grabo had indicated “that the full meaning of (the poem’s) terms is not contained in the poem itself, but draws from the entire body of Taylor’s writing, including his prose.” Taylor’s style leads to this decorum. He believes in looking at Taylor’s attitude to style set him apart from who he has been compared to. “One clue to Taylor’s attitude to poetry is given in stanza two of the Prologue. Even if the man the Crumb of Dust had a Pen of Angel’s Quill, and that…” This leads to one theme in puritan poetry of Election. That only God can give us grace that enables us to give him praise. (Mignon)


      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 30, 2018

      When I read this stanza in the first read-through, I initially assumed it to only be talking about the original sin–that of Adam choosing to eat from the forbidden tree. The line, “Had pecked the Fruit forbade” led me to this assumption, and I read on under the impression that the Bird of Paradise was Adam and This Wicker Cage referred to Eden. However, when I went back in my second read-through, I began to doubt myself, and realized that my doubt was right–there is much more to this than solely the Original Sin. In his article,”Edward Taylor’s Attitude toward Classical Paganism” , author John Shields noted that Taylor, “…alludes to the histories or mythologies of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, indicating a broad familiarity with these cultures” ( Shields 168). Having read Shield’s analysis, I began to wonder if this stanza could contain an allusion to mythology. Not seeing any footnote, I did some research and found that the Bird of Paradise in ancient Greece often referred to the soul. That being said, Taylor states that this bird was, “…put in/This Wicker Cage…” If the Bird of Paradise is the soul, I wonder if the Wicker Cage refers to the body. In this paragraph, Taylor combines both the Greek allusion of the Bird of Paradise with the allusion to the original sin of Adam and Eve. This juxtaposition not only shows that Taylor is educated in both Greek mythology and Christianity but shows the absolute sovereignty of God. Combining both allusions into one stanza shows that God is present everywhere, even in Greek mythology. As stated in the discussion in class, “God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere and center is everywhere.” This stanza just shows the omniscient presence of God.

      Shields, John C. “Jerome in Colonial New England: Edward Taylor’s Attitude toward Classical Paganism.” Studies in Philology, vol. 81, no. 2, 1984, pp. 161–184. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4174170.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 30, 2018

      The piece I read in the journal article titled “Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection” by Charles W. Mignon and what he brought out regarding Taylor is that, unless ordained by God, everything that Taylor did he felt was worthless unless inspired by God’s grace. I thought this particular stanza was interesting because of Taylor referring to himself as a “child.” During this time, they viewed children as there to learn and to be seen and not heard. He even brings out his childlike imperfect qualities and lowers himself even further, “Yet being a child, whether consonant or mute, I force my tongue to tattle.” So here you can clearly see that he views himself as not only a child, but a child that either talks too much or too little. He has lowered himself, because in his view nothing he does without the favor of God is worthwhile. Another point that the article I read over suggested is that Taylor is unique because he believes glory is only possible in heaven, and he also regularly point out his own failures and shortcomings while here on earth as is seen in this reference to himself as being a child. However we see towards the end of the stanza, “I thy glorious praise may trumpet right.” This shows what the article discussed, that he can “trumpet” the word of God but whatever comes from his lips in childish and useless.


      Mignon, C. (1968). Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection. PMLA, 83(5), 1423-1428. doi:10.2307/1261315


      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 30, 2018

      Robert E. Reiter examines Edward Taylor’s use of the symbolic ties to blood and its relationship in the piece to both poetic structure and typology. Reiter argues that by focusing the poem around such imagery as “The Brisk Red heifer’s Ashes” and “The Dooves assign’d Burnt” that Taylor is using these examples of blood sacrifice not only to show the superiority of Puritan faith, but also as a way of conducting a kind of introspection or as Reiter refers to it, “inscape”. The hierarchy that Taylor establishes with blood, meaning here the dominance of Christ’s blood over that of the bulls and doves, Reiter believes is directly linked to Taylor’s attempts of understanding his own spiritual well-being. By analyzing Taylor’s use of blood and realizing its importance, Reiter is able to make strong arguments about the overall meaning and importance of the poem, both its poetic structure and its use of typology.

      Work Cited

      Reiter, Robert E. “Poetry and Typology: Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations’, Second Series, Number 1-30.” Early American Literature, vol. 5, no. 1, 1970, pp.111-123. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25070450.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on January 31, 2018

      In the article Edward Taylor and the Momentum of Metaphor author Clark Griffith explains the meaning behind the metaphor of “the Bread of Life” in Taylor’s Meditation 8. To Griffith a reference to the “Bread of Life” has two meanings, the first being “entry into the penitent of Christian grace” and the second as being through partaking in the body of Christ the author (Taylor) is granted with his creative powers of expression. Griffith explains that this metaphor of bread is important to the audience because it links a commonplace item with bigger metaphysical understanding. These simplified metaphors are easy to understand for the audience but Griffith notes that they refer to a bigger meaning of Taylor’s works of the replenishing nature of God’s grace. Griffin also explains that in Mediation 8 contrasted with the “Bread of Life” is “the forbidden fruit of sin”. Griffin says that characterizing the speaker as a “Bird of Paradise” is intentional in the image that the bird “pecks at the fruit… but is replenished by the bread”. The metaphor of the “Bread of Life” refers to the soul’s dependency on a nourishment that only God can provide.

      Griffith, Clark. “Edward Taylor and the Momentum of Metaphor.” ELH, vol. 33, no. 4, 1966, pp. 448–460. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2872201.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 31, 2018

      In the journal article, Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection, Charles W. Mignon implies that the phrase of “Crumb of Dust” symbolizes the feelings as to how Edward Taylor sees his attempts as failures–unless God had previously inspired his to create art as an election. Mignon states that Taylor was by design to be a “Crumb of Dust,”  and that “Crumb of Dust,” was designed to be a poet whose only purpose was to praise God. The imagery in his works is thought to show Taylor’s praises to God from a human rhetoric. It was also stated that Taylor promoted the worth of God, by being a “Crumb of Dust,” and writing from the excellency of natural objects.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on January 31, 2018

      This passage was very interesting to me because Taylor talks of the Lord’s ‘bright beams.’ After doing some looking, I found William J Scheick’s article on the different references to light and optics in this poem. His interpretation of these references is that Taylor is using Aristotelian ideas of optics. Scheick says that Taylor was not completely satisfied with Aristotle’s thoughts. Scheick said, “He evidently believed that Aristotelian optics was accurate concerning lunar reflections, light in nature, and the postlapsarian state of the spiritual eye still undergoing the regenerative process”. He also used the Platonic Theory in his poem. http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/stable/pdf/2926284.pdf


      Comment by Paige Hatch on January 31, 2018

      In his article “The Puritan Structure of Edward Taylor’s Poetry” E.F Carlisle discusses Edward Taylor’s puritanical writing style. Carlisle begins his article explaining that in Taylor’s comparison of God and man, there is a clear reflection of his Puritan beliefs in the way that Taylor glorifies God and diminishes man. In reference to the prologue of Taylor’s Meditations Carlisle states “The “Prologue” develops at all levels from a very basic contrast of man  as dust or as nothing with God as glory or as everything” (Carlisle 153-154). Carlisle goes on to point out specific pieces of the prologue such as “Inspire this crumb of dust…” and uses that as support to his claim that Edward Taylor used his writings to praise God. Taylor believed that the only poetry worth writing or reading was that which was inspired by God. The crumb of dust is what Taylor uses as a metaphor for man, and for God to “inspire” the crumb of dust, is for God to inspire the poet to write.


      Carlisle, E.F. “The Puritan Structure of Edward Taylor’s Poetry.” The Johns Hopkins University Press.


      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on January 31, 2018

      Wilson Brissett’s article “Edward Taylor’s Public Devotions” covers this passage. In his article Brissett argues that this passage serves as an opening to Mediation 22. He states that it is important to view these lines in a Puritan point of view rather than clouding our interpretations with modern day judgement. Brissett argues that this passage shows Taylor’s perceived brokenness of the soul in the eyes of the Lord. The first few lines of this passage are a plea from Taylor to God for some sort of assistance in his journey to holiness, claims Brissett. Brissett argues that Taylor is looking for some sort of “transformative” action from God.


      <a href=”http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/stable/pdf/27750146.pdf?refreqid=search:fd3af0a6fd72dc5e78af04bdb73a8ae1″ rel=”nofollow”>http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/stable/pdf/27750146.pdf?refreqid=search:fd3af0a6fd72dc5e78af04bdb73a8ae1</a&gt;


      Brissett, Wilson. “Edward Taylor’s Public Devotions.” The University of North Carolina Press, vol. 44, 3 Nov. 2009, pp. 457–487. JSTOR.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 31, 2018

      In “Edward Taylor: A Puritan ‘Sacred Poet’,” Thomas Johnson provides insight into the qualities that make Edward Taylor’s poetry unique, speculates which authors that Taylor may have taken influence from, and discusses the imagery of “Meditation 38” as an example of Taylor’s carefully crafted use of metaphor. The entirety of the “Sacramental Meditations” is compared to George Herbert’s “The Church-porch,” with its use of iambic pentameter and the tendency to employ metaphysical verse (319-320). Where Taylor uses conceit, he also has the impeccable ability to develop unified metaphor, even if it is at times difficult to decipher (320). In “Meditation 38,” Taylor demonstrates the use of a unified metaphor with the concept of God as the Judge and Jesus as the Attorney, mixed with legal phrases, to “express the covenant idea” (320). The final line of “Meditation 38” is praised for the use of “Waggon Loads of Love” as a “homely metaphor” which connects the concepts of his poetry with the usual experience of the puritans (320). Johnson maintains that Taylor’s “Sacramental Meditations” at times lacks standard poetic quality, but the use of inventive imagery, with its tie to the commonplace, and the ability to fervently express his devotion to God, makes his poetry brilliant and distinctive (317, 321-322).

      Works Cited

      Johnson, Thomas H. “Edward Taylor: A Puritan ‘Sacred Poet.’” The New England Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 2, 1937, pp. 290–322.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 31, 2018

      Michael Schuldiner approached Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations as “the first stage of the classical journey of the hero as it had earlier been Christianized” (114). Meditation 22, is an expression of John Calvin’s Doctrine of Assurance in which a converted individual creates a work that they believe is flawed. Due to this thought process, the individual think that “his works are not motivated by regenerate inclinations but by some hidden sin that still inhabits the flesh. It is this sense of sin, which is in a manner persistent throughout the believer’s development, that troubles the conscience” (115). Schuldiner hypothesizes that Taylor is part of this process, incapable of writing a poem on Christ’s Glory without feeling that “his motives for wanting to write of the Glorification may not be entirely in order to glorify God, but rather perhaps in part to further his own worldly ambitions as a poet” (118). Schuldiner uses this specific passage as evidence to his claim, the first three lines most clearly highlight Calvin’s Doctrine of Assurance as Taylor’s desire to glorify God is overshadowed by the fear that he is doing so for his own pride. By relating Taylor’s meditation to Calvin’s doctrine, Shuldiner’s outlook shifts from a stand-alone piece to a piece of a whole that documents the journey of a Christian soul.

      Work Cited

      Schuldiner, Michael. “The Christian Hero and the Classical Journey in Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations. First Series.’” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 2, 1986, pp. 113–132. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3817179.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on January 31, 2018

      Michael Schuldiner implies that Taylor’s sinful nature was a stumbling block that prevented him from presenting an image of the glory of Christ. Taylor simply struggled to achieve the level of inspiration to recapture the experience, he once had when the light of glory entered his soul at conversion in Meditations 5 through 7. The conversion consisted in the illumination of the mind and regeneration of the will. Furthermore, Schuldiner states that Tylor motives for writing the Meditations was not to glorify God but to fulfill his personal and selfish ambitions as a poet. In addition, Schuldiner perceives Taylor’s act of confessing of sins as denigration. But then in Meditation twenty two Taylor says, “It’s my desire , thou should be glorified:/ But when the glory shines before mine eye,/I pardon Crave, lest my desire be Pride.” Schildiner concluded that Taylor did not reach his spiritual endeavor up until this Meditation because he didn’t recognize his pride in view of the fact that his soul was not entirely regenerated. 


      Work Cited

      Schuldiner, Michael. “The Christian Hero and the Classical Journey in Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations. First Series.’” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 2, 1986, pp. 113–132. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3817179.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 31, 2018

      Taylor’s meditations follow a formulaic pattern that uses metaphor to emphasize man’s innate depravity, God’s absolute sovereignty, and the idea of the Puritans as the elect chosen of God. In this meditation, he writes of God’s ability to unlock both doors (or locks) and man’s soul. Sin (man’s innate depravity) has rusted the lock to his soul and God, with unerring and unwavering assurance (absolute sovereignty), picks the exact right key to that lock despite possessing thousands of other keys (election) (8-10). Once open to God’s scrutiny, man’s love is shown to be very small, hidden, and like that of a withered apple and refers to man’s unworthiness of redemption (11-12). The metaphors that Taylor uses are humble and pertain to everyday things or occurrences and, according to Michael North, he looks for metaphor wherever he can (North 14). North also points to Taylor’s repeated use of metaphor to signify the importance of the covenant between God and the elect often focusing more intently on the Last Supper. While this meditation does not particularly address this specific covenant, it does center on the ultimate promise of being among God’s chosen people, man being initially unworthy of such a promise, and God’s benevolence in redeeming man from his own innate sin.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on January 31, 2018

      Charles W. Mignon’s article, “Diction in Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations”  focuses on the diction of Taylor’s poetry, but most importantly what how that diction, and word choice effects the poem. Taylor’s poem seem to me to be doctrinal and reveal his emotional investment and devotion to a transcendent God.  Mignon states that, ” Taylor’s theory of the function of language (and accordingly of diction) is religiously motivated: his art is related to his election” (Mignon 1). Edward believed he was one of the elect and God will perfect him through his devotion. For example Edward writes, “Oh! richest Grace! Are thy Rich Veans then tapt /…For Sinners Here to Lavor off (all sapt) / (With Sin) their Sins and Sinfulness away?” (26. 25, 27-28). This rich expression of personal insufficiency shows how God will open his veins and wash away the sins. In order for him to be saved he must have his sins washed away by God. In the final stanza, the poet calls out directly to for his Lord to , “wash me” (26. 31). Mignon reminds readers however that Edwards “art” or poetry and cries to be clean, “cannot be worthy of the praise of God unless it is inspired by God’s grace” (Mignon 1). The entire meditation is motivated by God’s grace. Edwards belief that, “Thy Church, whose floor is paved with Graces bright” is most clear in this final stanza (26. 33). Edward will then sing, “thy praise” which may seem insignificant however there is no better way to show God’s grace than through singing his praise.

      Mignon, Charles W. “Diction in Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations.’” American Speech, vol. 41, no. 4, 1966, pp. 243–253. 

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on January 31, 2018

      Parker H. Johnson addresses Taylor’s sentiments in this passage in his article, ‘Poetry and Praise in Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations. Specifically, Johnson elaborates on the fierce dichotomy that is evident in this stanza between the glorious resplendence of God and the baseness and unworthiness of the poet, Taylor. Johnson postulates that the Puritan’s despair at being unable to give justice to the majesty of God finds its roots in Calvinistic theology, which he states, “limits metaphoric possibilities” (88) because of man’s total depravity. In Johnson’s words, “The Lord’s glory is simply too overwhelming…[Taylor’s] skill and his desire to praise do not correspond” (88). The painfully self-conscious inadequacy of Taylor’s words, metaphors, analogies and allegories becomes quite clear in the final two lines of the stanza where Taylor laments that his “quaintest metaphors are ragged stuff, / Making the sun seem like a mullipuff” (lines 5-6). Here, we see the concept of disconnected correspondence between God’s glory and man’s insignificance magnified in Taylor’s inability to put the brilliance of God into words. As Johnson put it, Taylor’s best attempts at analogy “only defile and degrade a transcendent subject” (89). Therefore, we see that Taylor’s frustration of living in a state where he is not free to fully express his devotion to his creator as he feels he ought, is deeply rooted in his belief in innate depravity.

      Works Cited

      Johnson, Parker H. “Poetry and Praise in Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations.” American Literature, vol. 52, no. 1, 1980, pp. 84–96. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2925189.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 31, 2018

      Norman Grabo refers to this stanza of “Meditation 42 (First Series)” in his article “Edward Taylor’s Spiritual Huswifery” in which he examines the use of the term huswifery throughout Taylor’s poetry. He specifically examines the “holy robes for glory” which refer to the metaphorical robes that are worn upon the soul for glory with the Lord. According to Grabo, the lines “Adorn me, Lord, with Holy Huswifry. / All blanch my Robes with Clusters of Thy Graces” (37-38) refer to the idea of grace, glory, and righteousness being associated with the robes of glory and the individual that wears the robe. The robes of glory are worn around the souls of those of the elect that have been chosen and saved by God. Grabo argues that studying more fully what was meant by Taylor’s use of huswifery and holy robes for glory can offer a better understanding to all of Taylor’s poetry which concerns these terms and ideas.

      Grabo, Norman S. “Edward Taylor’s Spiritual Huswifery.” PMLA, vol. 79, no. 5, 1964, pp. 554–560. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/461141.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on January 31, 2018

      Edward Taylor has an interesting take on the lords “Last Supper” and for food eaten in memory of the Lord. In the paragraphs before this one in particular, he seems to understand that this supper is eaten in the name of the Lord but then slowly starts to question it saying things that ask why the food is eaten in the Lord’s name when he himself did not bake the bread or physically put the food on the table. In this particular paragraph, he questions why it is so important to eat this food in the first place. As he states, “What Grace is this knead in this Loafe?” meaning was the grace of god baked into this bread, and that is why it is so seemingly special?In an article by James Dave, he suggests that Edward Taylor actually understands the authenticity of the food and what he writes about. How the Lord’s word is in his reality and he actually experiences it everyday in everyday life. I think that Edward Taylor possibly does begin to understand it as he states, “This bread of life dropt in thy mouth, doth cry.” He has learned what the Lord’s meaning is and he will never be able to get enough of it now.

      Works Cited

      Dave, James. “Edward Taylors: “Meditation 8” http://www.james-dave.com/taylor8.html

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on February 1, 2018

      Analysis of Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations
                  In this article, “Diction in Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations” by Charles Mignon studies the Edward Taylor’s diction of his Preparatory Meditations and compares his version of biblical verses to other writers during this time in New England. Charles writes that Taylor’s diction and “function of language is religiously motivated”, since Taylor believes that his writing cannot be “worthy of the praise of God unless it is inspired by God’s grace” (243). Mignon goes into depth with certain words and their difficulty for the readers, contemporary and not, to comprehend them. He dies research on many of Edward Taylor’s words and captions throughout Preparatory Meditations. Words like, “dozde” and “cordillera” which he used in his writing in 1706, but these words weren’t officially illustrated and defined until 1776 and 1808, leaving his readers to infer what he meant by them (250). By studying Taylor’s Diction, Mignon could come to the conclusion that Taylor’s writing has a greater number of difficult words per page than any other writer is this era (253). He decides that it is most likely that Edward Taylor was writing for himself, because the “Puritan context of intelligibility seems irrelevant to him” (253). Edward is motivated by God in his writing, but not in the sense to use his literary work to motivate others to follow God and follow the Puritan lifestyle.
      Works Cited
      Mignon, Charles W. “Diction in Edward Taylor’s ‘Preparatory Meditations.’” American Speech, vol. 41, no. 4, 1966, pp. 243–253. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/453498.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on February 1, 2018

      In Edward Taylor’s poem “Preparatory Meditations” the Prologue contains a lot of content that has subliminal significances. Charles W. Mignon makes some great points in his article, “Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection”. Mignon presents the idea that the Prologue speaks about the way Taylor is criticized as a poet and how he has been defined by the American critics. He proceeds to present the theory of Taylors style and the criticism related to it from the English Metaphysicals. Mignon wants to show how Taylor’s attitude and style set him aside from that of the English.
                  There are many ways in which Taylor views himself as gods instrument to God. He folds onto whatever God asks of him and everything he does he does in his name, “I am this crumb of dust which is designed, to make my pen unto Thy praise alone,”. Here is where Mignon makes his point about Taylor’s attempt to praise God and how he still finds Taylor to be conscious even about “amplification simply because it is by definition human rhetoric.”
                  The Prologue contains lines that are designs that focus on religion yet are still artistic. It again mentions Taylors awareness and consciousness to there being “A Golden Path” and knows that’s God’s grace is his “Golden Wrack”. The point is made often the Taylor is conscious in knowing the connection between being on the path to salvation a religious life and being a religious vessel or tool to practice what is preached. The argument is brought up that Taylor is simply just trying to guide through the metaphors in the piece.
                  Mignon goes onto say that the entire poem “Preparatory Meditations” shows a massive tissue of meiosis of diminishing images… The big statement made in the article is that of Taylor being painfully aware of the gap between himself and God and that the only way to be connected is through Gods side that one individual can’t reach out to God. God has to reach out first.

      Works Cited
      Mignon, Charles W. “Edward Taylor’s “Preparatory Meditations:” A Decorum of Imperfection.” , Modern Language Association, 23 Oct. 2007. Jstor. Accessed 1 Jan. 2018. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1261315

      Comment by Ries Cope on February 1, 2018

      Sorry, this post was meant for stanza three, not stanza six.

  • Edward Taylor, Poems (26 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 22, 2018

      Data visualization for Taylor’s poems

      Comment by Erica Moyer on January 22, 2018

      This reminds me of the class discussion about how the puritans had to have a real story of repent in order to be allowed or welcomed to the church. Is that correct? I know it was the belief in that time. I guess my question is who determines how valid someones attempt to repent is? how exactly does that work? What is the person who is repenting has accepted God grace personally and believes they are filled with Gods Spirit, is it not valid unless the church recognizes it as such?

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 25, 2018

      I thought that this poem was particularly interesting and telling of the culture of the times. This poem was written by Edward Taylor. By doing some research, I discovered that Edward Taylor was a Puritan who fled to American colonies due to religious persecution. This poem really spoke to me because it talks about the care and management of a household, while simultaneously relating to God and becoming closer or being used by God. As the poem says, “Make me, O Lord, thy Spinning Wheele complete” (NAAL 360). This line states that the author wants to be used as a tool for God to work through. This poem in particular just reiterates to me how central God and religion were in their lives. Everything, even the simple act of maintaining a household.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 25, 2018

      I liked how Taylor wrote this poem in response to his other poem “The Soul’s Groan to Christ for Succor”. From his previous poems, it is clear that Taylor is concerned about the sins he has committed. I think this paragraph exemplifies how much grace God has. He talks about how his sins are “Deadened” and “shall not rise again”. Even though Taylor is saying that he has committed these horrible sins that he perceives as unforgivable, God is willing to wipe the sins away and the guilt that comes with it because he sacrificed himself for mankind (“My Blood doth out the stain”).

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 25, 2018

      This paragraph reminds me of our discussion in class about the themes of introspection and internal division from Anne Bradstreet. It discusses the struggle with staying away from sin, but still finding “many faults” in one’s soul.This introspection and internal division leads the speaker to “condemn myselfe before thy Grace” because of the many faults he finds in his soul. This also links back to the theme of dependence upon God for salvation and innate depravity of humans. Humans are naturally weak, sinful, and we are held back by our own frailty. This paragraph is the perfect example of how introspection, internal division, dependence, and innate depravity link together.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 25, 2018

      I also enjoyed this poem. Taylor holds God on a high pedestal as we can see throughout the preface and the poems. Even though he believes the sins are still alive in him he knows they “shall not rise again” because even though God will forgive him again as he did before, he doesn’t want to have to “purge its filthiness clear off” again. He doesn’t want God to have to keep forgiving him. I believe what Taylor is saying here is even though God forgave him and will continue to forgive him for terrible things, Taylor feels he needs to learn from his lessons and attempt to please God. And this is why they “shall not rise again” even though they are still alive within him.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on January 26, 2018

      I find very interesting that Edward Tylor uses the title “Huswifery”  which is a term traditionally designated as the role of a woman in the home. Even though the poem may be well written from a woman’s perspective, I don’t think that is the case here. I think this is a beautiful heart-felt plea of a humble man that wants to be used as an instrument. I like how Tylor employs figure of speech to describe the essential parts of the spinning wheel to express his Puritan spiritual experience and devotion. “My conversation make to be thy Reel.” what I get from this line is that he wants God to use him as an instrument to persuade others to turn from their sinful ways and to adhere to the Puritan faith.




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      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 27, 2018

      There is an incredibly interesting tone offered by Taylor throughout this piece in regards to the Lord’s voice in His exchange with man. Up until this point we’ve studied many authors of the Puritan faith that have presented God in a much harsher light. While these practitioners are always quick to establish His divine right in being so, nevertheless, the overall representation of God is of a mysterious and vengeful being. Here however, we are given a completely different facet of the Lord. In this passage we hear a loving God, the tone of which is incredibly personal, almost intimate in nature. At the very least He comes across as an indulgent parent with His phrasing. By making this choice, Taylor unveils an entirely different facet to the Puritan’s version of the Lord, one that is kind, and not simply occupied with strict discipline.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 27, 2018

      This stanza reminds me of  The Flesh and the Spirit, by Anne Bradstreet. In both this one and Bradstreet’s poems, we see internal division. I admire the comparison Taylor makes between bees and grace; bees give honey, and grace gives internal faith. Though bees also sting. What is to be said of grace, then? Here, Taylor knows that like bees, grace can also sting. The struggle comes in the last two lines; Taylor believes that if he were to run from grace, he would be left without honey.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on January 28, 2018

      This stood out to me, growing up Catholic these morals and viewers were constantly being introduced to me. I interpreted this part of the poem as an indivudial seems to be finding an explanation as to how God’s mercy works. Felt as if there was talk about forgiving sin and washing away all that was done wrong by the individual, yet the idea of a continual sin and the possibilty of, “As if thou couldst not pay the sinners bill” the idea that at some point the sin will be greater than the mercy. hence the sinners bill will be unpaid.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 29, 2018

      Taylor’s poem is focused on the importance and glory of God. To highlight just how powerful He is, Taylor draws attention to all of the awe-inspiring nature in the world, and questioning just who could have made such beautiful imagery. He then answers his own question by telling the reader God is the only one capable of such a feat, while continuing to bolster God’s reputation. I thought that this poem was an interesting example of Puritan Reflex compared to Anne Bradstreet’s poem “Contemplations” since the speaker in her poem seemed uncertain of God’s glory while Taylor’s speaker seems absolutely certain of it.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 29, 2018

      You can see the need to appeal to a divine maker in this prose, and also the appeal to nature and to the place of a woman as a “huswife.” The need for humility, to give praise to God, to have order due to status, is all seen in an attempt by the society of the time too please God by doing so. By using references to the Holy Worde we see the appeal to the scriptures in their attempt to follow the word of God in hopes of gaining honor. The humilty from the man is both showing humility to God and to his wife, “make my soule thy Spoole to Bee.” The man is clearly wanting to show humility to all in hopes of also gaining his salvation. He is wanting to gain praise also from his wife in hopes his conversation is worthy of her humble devotion as well, and despite the modern application of the term housewife this man is clearly showing humility and being grateful for his wife and all she does.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on January 29, 2018

      This stanza here really gives insight to the trouble going on with trying to not stray from a somewhat righteous path and how satan is really trying to block their way. I had to look up the word “stratagems” and found it to mean a plan or scheme. So the line literally says “by all his schemes he may” which really shows that Satan is using all his wits and plans to be able to block the righteous way for Edward Taylor in this poem. He has to go through fire for sins but since his sins were not as bad it only barely burnt his shins, he did not let his sins overcome him and that is why Satan was not able to stop his pursuit of the righteous way.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on January 29, 2018

      [Her work in every limb: and lace It up neat with a vital grace, Acting each part though ne’er so small]

      Out of the selections of poetry we read by Taylor this was my favorite. I love the analogy of the warming of the wasp and the Puritan desire for grace and salvation. In this quoted passage above I feel as though Taylor almost envies the simple life of the wasp who does her duty to herself and the hive without the human burdens of sin.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 29, 2018

      This stanza stood out to me for the same reasons as you. Life (or Satan) gives us many challenges to face and walk through fire to overcome. The greater the challenge the greater the outcome but if we misstep or do wrong we are burnt by the challenges that Satan’s puts in front of us. His schemes or Stratagems guild our lives to who, what, and where we need to be.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on January 29, 2018

      I especially liked this passage. The beginning of it reminded me of winter turning to spring. He talks of a northern blast, which reminded me of a northern wind, which I usually associate with winter because they always seem to bring cold air. He also talks of stiff limbs. This just reminded me of winter for some reason. Then he talks about Sol’s warm breath, and warming different parts of the body.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 29, 2018

      I’m not sure I’d agree the speaker in Bradstreet’s Contemplations is uncertain of God’s glory. What she demonstrates is a sense of divided allegiances between the beauty of Nature and the glory of God, and like a good Puritan arrives at the conclusion that God’s glory is eternal (unlike Nature) and opts for devotion to him and everlasting life. I suspect this is what you were getting at in your message. Whereas Bradstreet models the proper and pious behavior of a believer reasoning out her devotion to God, Taylor is here taking an unconflicted, sermonizing sort of approach to the Puritan reflex (he was a minister, and so the authoritative and declarative approach was natural to him and very different from how Bradstreet writes in most of her poems).

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on January 29, 2018

      Hillary, you make some interesting points with your comment, the comparison of grace and honey makes you think on what he could possibly mean with that. I think he is comparing living in God’s grace with the harshness of the life of a Puritan, but without living in this strict life and being governed by God’s rules, then there would be no honey, or the pleasure in the after life. So there is a tough choice to be made.

      Comment by Erin McManis on January 29, 2018

      I completely agree with your points. I also see the militaristic imagery here where he says “…behold this Dreadful Enemy Who makes me tremble with his fierce assaults,” this gives us another side of the internal division as having an enemy inside one’s self that needs to  be beaten. He is only saved by God’s grace and all he can do is give himself to God. “I do Condemn myselfe before thy Grace.”

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 29, 2018

      Taylor seems to use the imagery of a wasp and the sun as a metaphor for the human experience with God. However, it is not clear whether the wasp represents a woman, Taylor, a body of people, or all of the above. Either way, the wasp is given human like qualities, such as having toes and fingers and wearing a satin jacket. The sun literally warms but figuratively represents the grace of God providing light and warmth for the wasp. Such a simple animal as a wasp used in this introspective poem could point to Taylor assuming the human as merely a small insect when compared with the ideals of the sovereign God. Also, Taylor uses nature here as Bradstreet did, by using its beauty as a medium to reflect on the power of God.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 29, 2018

      I noticed the markedly different tone as well. In fact, I had to reread it a couple of times to make sure that I was reading it correctly. Everything else we have read has definitely painted a picture of God as an intimidating and vengeful presence and Taylor has turned that supposition on its ear. Instead we are given this image of an “indulgent parent”, as you aptly named it, that responds to every fear by pointing out the numerous ways in which the Cur is harmless to the reader/audience. Exactly as a parent would to a child having nightmares.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on January 29, 2018

      I found the beginning of this poem particularly interesting. The opening line, “Infinity, when all things it beheld/ In Nothing, and of Nothing all did build.” This reminds me of the discussion we had in class about nature and how God is apart of all nature. Edward implies that God has always and will always be apart of everything in the world. Edward’s belief that God built this world evident when he states, “He turned the globe and rigalled it so trim?” God created this world therefore he can be seen in the world.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 29, 2018

      Taylor’s poem “Huswifery” is a beautiful poem in which it appears that the narrator addresses God and asks him to direct him in the Lord’s will, similarly to how yarn is woven on a spinning wheel. It’s a very effective description of how the narrator believes and/or wishes the Lord would act in his own life. The line “Thine Ordinances make my Fulling Mills” compares the cleansing of cloth to the spiritual cleansing, or baptism, of an individual. The narrator is describing the spiritual cleansing and rebirth in comparison to the everyday occurrence of creating cloth from yarn.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on January 29, 2018

      This stanza really struck me as I was reading the larger poem, for similar reasons as others have stated in preceding stanzas. The view of God that is depicted here is very different from the vengeful, exacting divine personification of Justice we have seen in other Puritan writings, yet it doesn’t go so far as to create an impression of God that is simply comforting or coddling. Taylor helps to reconcile these two seemingly polarized views of God in the third line, “Whose wrath is full of Grace,” and in the intriguing final line where he states that God “Frowns with a Smiling Face.” While the other lines in the stanza seem to indicate that Taylor is focusing on the Lord’s mercy and sovereignty, it is also made obvious that He is a God of justice and righteousness simultaneously. This is the first time that I have seen Puritans attempt to find a balance for these two views and I think that Taylor sums it up very well in this stanza.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on January 29, 2018

      I find this section to be very pleasing to the senses. I’d imagine that this section could be shared with a poetry class and many would guess that it came from the 1900s rather than this much earlier time period. I think the reason this specific passage seems more “modern” to me is the word choice. The constant references to animals, and specifically ones that are not commonly looked at from a religious background. Also, the line, “Rubbing her legs, shanks, thighs, and hands” seems like something ripped out of a pop song about young love and sex. That was not a comparison I was thinking I’d be able to make going into the readings for today. Even the references to religion seem obscure enough to not tip off the readers to this being Early American poetry. The line, “As if her satin jacket hot” is also something that is so vague and weirdly worded that it could be mistaken for something much more modern.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on March 12, 2018

      Norman S. Grabo (1930-2001) editor and critic of Early American Literature, strongly suggests that regardless of the clarity of the poem “Huswifery” readers somehow have not been able to understand it in its entirety and critics have trouble understanding the intended meaning. He argues that no matter how the author’s work is analyzed, the poem is meaningless unless the “Holy robes of glory” are identified. He asserts that the meaning is not revealed solely on the “Huswifery” weaving of garments imagery itself, but, through a deep study and clear understanding of Taylor’s prose and complete “Preparatory Meditations” poem collection. He asserts that the robe of glory does not epitomize a civil, sober life or a doctrinal profession, but a profound spiritual longing for soul purification through righteousness which is the element that prepares the soul for eternal life through Christ’s gift of grace. Therefore, the plea to be “clothed in holy robes” is Taylor’s tangible soul purification henceforward, the culmination in the celebration of The Lord’s Supper which symbolizes the new covenant of Christ’s divine consummation of marriage with human nature.




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      Grabo, Norman S. “Edward Taylor’s Spiritual Huswifery.” PMLA, vol. 79, no. 5, 1964, pp. 554–560. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/461141.

  • Cotton Mather, from Wonders of the Invisible World (26 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 1, 2018

      Data Visualization for Cotton Mather.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on February 2, 2018

      This paragraph was interesting to me because it seems as though they were blaming Benjamin Abbot’s illnesses on Carrier, saying that he got better the longer she was away from him. However, what most likely happened in reality was that his wounds were healing because they had been healing for some time now. Even though Carrier threatened him at one point saying, “that he should repent of it afore seven Years came to an End, so as Doctor Prescot should never cure him,” she had no way to actually follow through with this. From the descriptions of the “swelling in his foot,” “a pain in his side,” a “sore bred in the groin,” and another sore in the groin, it seems as though Benjamin Abbot was just very prone to infections and cysts and wasn’t actually being cursed by Carrier. Besides, even if she had cursed him, the curse would have lasted beyond her capture by the Constable.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on February 4, 2018

      It is and interesting paragraph definitely goes back to the idea that all these trials were false and the victims suffered from common issues. Those being accused had to prove they weren’t witches through nearly impossible tests. Did seem a bit absurd to claim someone was cursing you and you begin to feel better the longer he was away from him.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 5, 2018


      I agree. The statement that Mather makes earlier in the text sticks out even more after reading this passage. He said, “and I report matters not as an advocate, but as an historian” (NAAL 394). Reading these accusations against Martha

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on February 5, 2018

      Cotton Mathers elaborates on how the new world is falling away from God and religious values that were held in high regard by those who first came to the new world. He recalls the Salem Witch Trials, “Trials which have passed upon some of the Malefactors lately Executed at Salem, for the Witchcrafts whereof they stood convicted”. Yet, he maintains his religious beliefs by saying that he is mourning for them and he is hoping the Lord will comfort them. He continues by referring to the bible, “You are to take the Truth, just as it was; and the Truth will hurt no good Man”. Meaning, Men should turn back to the bible and God and if they are a good man, then following the bible will not harm but help them.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 5, 2018

      Reading these accusations against Martha after Mather referring to himself as a historian only makes it sound more accusatory. The symptoms Abbot experiences could have been from anything; that is also true in the remainder of this piece. It is interesting to think that in this time, rationality was based on superstition.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on February 6, 2018


      I agree with each of the points you made. Elaborating on your statement about the Salem Witch Trials, Mather brings absolute sovereignty into discussion. By stating that he hopes the  Lord will comfort them shows that they were supposed to die, and God has his hand in everything. It expresses that he truly believes in providence. We can also see cohesiveness in this passage. Stating, “You are to take the Truth”, and then follow the truth is showing the  cohesiveness of God’s plan.  It can only work if you trust the process. Following  the ways of the Lord will deliver them out of the world and up to God.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on February 6, 2018

      You both made wonderful points! I thought that this paragraph was particularly interesting for both of the reasons you guys said. I thought it was interesting how almost all, if not all, of our readings up to this point have religion involved in some way. Religion was central to colonial lives. I think it’s interesting that this reading is the first one that strays away from God and instead focuses on something they believe that Satan has a hand in–witchcraft. Despite all the darkness and believed evil in this article, Cotton Mather still finds ways to bring it back to God. He states regarding those accused of witchcraft, “The Lord Comfort them!” I find it interesting that surrounded by “evil”, Mather refers back to his faith in God. As Elizabeth pointed out, man is beginning to stray from God and become tempted by Satan and witchcraft. Having minimal knowledge on the Salem Witch Trails, most of what I know is that those accused were often put to death. I wonder if Christians like Mather ever considered that these people deserved an opportunity to be saved by God and His Grace, or if they believed that because these people had strayed from Him, their punishment must be death.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 7, 2018

      I think that it’s important to bring up Mathers’ use of the Devil in these beginning passages. Hardship was often attributed to the Devil trying to challenge God’s providence. By chalking up the Trials as the attempt of the Devil to defeat God and his followers, Mathers appeals heavily to his audience at the time, and potentially changes the mind of anyone who might have been against the Trials by appealing to their religion and the reminder that they (the Puritans) were guided or protected by God’s providence.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on February 7, 2018

      This paragraph marks the beginning of the trial for Martha Carrier, one of the many that were accused of witchery in Salem, Massachusetts. She was accused of bewitching certain persons but then many came forward to say that she had committed witchcraft upon them. If first off it states that only the certain people where bewitched then why did so many come forward when she was taken to court? It is moving that the carrier was to let her live longer because if the majority of the town would have ruled, Martha would have been dead upon her trial. The people were scared, but if my memory of the salem witch trials serves correctly, they basically lynched anyone who was slightly different without the accusations of witchery.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on February 7, 2018

      In this piece we see a possible scheme by some members of the community against specific persons that was perhaps driven by personal or monetary motives. Up until this point our readings have shown how Puritans used their faith and scripture to hold themselves or their congregation together. However, we have also seen it employed to manipulate perceptions, both toward other people of English descent and also more uniformly against the indigenous people of the region. In this paragraph it is highlighted how the accusers employ the Puritan fear of declension to agitate the religious population and achieve their ends. This concern is heard in sentences like, “it is a thing prodigious, beyond the Wonders of the Former Ages, and it threatens no less than a sort of a Dissolution upon the World”. Here the author takes steps to state and reinforce this collective fear, as well as to establish the idea of this declension spreading to encompass not only the colonies but the entire world.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on February 7, 2018

      I agree that it is important to bring up his use of the Devil. I think you’re right to say that hardship was attributed to the Devil. I agree that he appeals to his audience in a huge way here. The simple fact that these people believed so whole heartedly that the Devil was the source of their hardship, is what probably made this passage so persuasive to his audience at the time.

      Comment by Ries Cope on February 7, 2018

      I believe you’re correct. If I’m not mistaken during the witch trials many were said to be guilty without any real evidence. They were just the people that were different. If I remember correctly it was more hearsay. Where if you’re blamed it’s your word against the accuser, and more often than not the accuser was believed. Many people that weren’t directly involved feared the witch trials because if they did anything someone involved saw as a witch act, then they could be killed. People would go missing during the trials and their families would find out later they were in jail and awaiting an unfair trial. I believe so many came forward because they were scared themselves, and it was better to accuse another than to be accused yourself.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on February 7, 2018

      Mather was confident that witchcraft was the tool Satan used to interrupt and destroy God’s plan for the elect. I find interesting that Mather had no problem believing the predictions of a man accused of witchcraft. He states, “We have been advised by some credible Christians yet alive, that a malefactor, accused of witchcraft as well as a murder, and executed in this place more than forty years ago, did then give notice of an horrible plot against the country by witchcraft, and a foundation of witchcraft then laid, which if it were not seasonably discovered, would probably blow up, and pull down all the churches in the country” (393). Mather believed the predictions of this man as real, which indicates somehow that the witchcraft accusations were founded solely on folktale and superstition.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 7, 2018

      Reading about the great deal of “Wickedness” that no doubt Mather strongly believed in takes the reader back to the days of medieval England, when the same type of religious persecution and “witch hunting” was prevalent. Wanting the America’s to be a place of good people, of godly people, and without blot of sin, was of course a top priority. This time period is of great interest to me because we so often read about the witchcraft accusations in England but not as much in American where it also was a huge issue. It is peculiar how or what exactly these people actually did or performed to be considered to be a witch or satanic. Perhaps using astrology,  perhaps just questioning the beliefs of the Bible, anything could have incited this supposed “knot of Witches” in the country. However, there could be nothing worse for the puritan society than the idea of witchcraft. The fear that the witches instilled was very real and very frightening indeed, and the strong language shows both the fear and disgust at the practices.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 7, 2018

      Nice points by all.  The year of composition for this piece was 1693–less than a decade away from a new century–and only a few years after the publications of Isaac Newton and John Locke that are discussed in our text in the period discussion following the section on Mather (p. 427).  What we’re seeing in Mather’s text is an alarm about encroaching scientific views that were throwing doubt upon how the Puritans viewed the world and humanity, and a re-assertion of Millenialism, the idea that the second coming is at hand and that a 1,000 years of bliss (what Mather refers to as “halcyon days” towards the top of p. 393) would follow. The elemental conflict between good and evil he describes in this piece was believed to be at hand, concentrating the militaristic spiritual stance we’ve seen assumed by Puritan writers in earlier texts.

      Comment by Erin McManis on February 7, 2018

      A lot of the witch trials was mass hysteria. You have a large group of ultra religious people and then there is speculation that the devil is among them and being worshipped through witchcraft. I think one of the main people accused was a slave and then it just escalated from there. If someone disliked you enough they could act like they were enchanted by you and you were next on the chopping block, so I agree that if anyone was different then they were the next accused

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on February 7, 2018

      I agree that the community was against a specific person (Martha Carrier). Reading through several of the paragraphs about the accusers made it seem like after the first accusation people just wanted to judge someone. I believe in someway Carrier rejected the “bewitched” men and they wanted to get back at her. I also gather from the reading that people jumped on the bandwagon to accuse the woman of witchcraft, why would someone wait two years to bring something up if not for that reason? The other wives and women, I think, went along with the accusation because they didn’t want to believe their husbands or someone close to them was faltering from their faith. 

      Comment by Marie Gentle on February 7, 2018

      This passage marks a definite shift in the idea that God strikes with suddenness and one must accept and move on. Now sudden and inexplicable deaths are attributed to Satan’s influence. It is especially more pronounced because the accuser seems to be testifying more out of spite due to a previous disagreement than a true belief that the devil really has taken over Carrier. We continue to see all manner of horrors being pronounced as the work of the devil but we also are led to belief that miraculous healings are the result of identifying and testifying against someone thought to be influenced by the devil rather than by personal reflection and confession to God. This is evidence of declension as it’s been discussed in lecture.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on February 7, 2018

      I found this paragraph to be extremely interesting and indeed rather terrifying as I read through the details of Carrier’s trial and the witness statements made. As the trial progresses, we see it spiral further and further into a veritable Charybdis of hysteria and terror generated by so-called ‘witchcraft’ in their midst, growing to a climactic peak where a woman could be arrested as a witch, tried, and executed because her neighbor’s cows died. These are absolutely odd and probably devastating events to the farmers in these communities, but immediately attributing them as devices of demonic force and punishing hundreds of women under a loose and ill-defined term such as ‘witchcraft’ is inherently wrong. The emotional appeals and lack of empirical evidence to prove that these odd, yet natural events were actually supernatural does irreparable damage to the validity of this trial and the arguments and reasons therein.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on February 7, 2018

      During a time of expansive change in The New World, a work like Cotton Mather’s could give reason to otherwise unreasonable series of unfortunate events. As Mather’s gathered, witnesses proclaimed that the strange behaviors and deaths of their cattle could be attributed to their supposedly bizarre encounters with Martha Carrier. One person even said that she heard Carrier speak to her while she was in her fields, that the voice was “over her head”, certainly an unlikely occurrence. Additionally, ailments are attributed to interactions with Carrier, making her a convenient scapegoat during a time when medicine had not yet developed cures for most illnesses. Perhaps, Carrier is an example of how witchcraft could be used as an explanation of what Mather’s sees as an apocalyptic time, but the apocalypse is not the epidemic of the devil in the shape of people, but economic and natural issues in New England.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on February 7, 2018

      In this paragraph of Cotton Mather’s “The Wonders of the Invisible World” there is reference to the “shapes” that the Puritans believed were representations of Satan. The individual, Allin Toothaker, testifying against the “witch” says “he saw the shape of Martha Carrier, go off his breast” (395). It sounds as though he is making an excuse for embarrassing himself by blaming his errors on the mother of the boy he was fighting with; she may or may not have been present, he seems to be seeing a ghost-like version of her that he believed was holding him down. This testimony has no real evidence, he is basically claiming to see spirits or ghosts, something that would not hold up in a court today, but it represents just how much these individuals believed in magic and witches. What he is proposing is impossible but the Salem witch trials was filled with such corruption and superstition that people were actually led to believe in improbable events such as this.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on February 7, 2018

      I think this paragraph shows a lot about the mindset that Cotton Mather, and the rest of this community, found themselves in. Although the trials later in this text show a lot about the logic that was used during this time I think the opening is the most “new” to many of us who haven’t read this before. There are many books written about this time period, but many of them don’t explain the terrible mindset that is responsible for the actions in those books. I think this paragraph’s mentions of the Devil versus the People of God is proof of this. The end of this paragraph and the opening few sentences of the next paragraph show this sort of ideology that the Devil is making his “attempt”. I find this reasoning to be harmful to both the “witches” in question as well as the greater community due to the lack of logic being demonstrated at this time. In one of my other classes we are studying John Milton’s argumentative works, which were written in the 1640’s. This work was written much later, and I wonder if things like this are just part of the stupidity of human nature considering events that happened much later than both of these.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on February 8, 2018

      I agree with your statement, the bases off which they can accuse someone of witchcraft is very outrageous. Just because something slightly unusual happens, they can link it to magic and say this is happening not because of natural forces but man made forces. I am curious about the number of women they killed trying to eliminate the witches and I am also curious about how they decided that there were no longer anymore witches and that the things happening around them were just coincidental.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on February 10, 2018

      I found this passage to be a little bit funny. I completely agree that superstition basically trumped reason and logic in this time period. His aliments could have been caused by any number of things however he blames it on the curse by Carrier. IT seems a little ridiculous to me but those were the times and what was believed. Rather than seeking medical care Abbot just assumed he was cursed as opposed to just being ill. It is my understanding of curses that the curse doesn’t have to be near by or living for the curse to remain and that the curse should have stayed with him despite Carrier being taken away by the Constable.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on February 21, 2018

      I agree that it is interesting to read this with the understanding that Mather believed these things. His use of language magnifies just how serious he feels about the “wicked witch craft”. I also find it interesting that the witch hunting that occurred in America was just as big a deal as what was going on it England, but we don’t hear as much about the American happenings. This passage was also interesting to me because we see a bit of a change of events in the Puritan religion. In this part of the reading we can see that some of the actions that puritans carry out are absolutely for self gain, when they profess to only live to please God. This part of the reading highlighted the hypocrisy going on behind the scenes.

  • Anne Bradstreet, Poems (24 comments)

    • Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 18, 2018

      Reading this paragraph, I felt that this reflected the Puritan ideals of God’s absolute sovereignty, which relates back to the theme of election and the separatist ideals of the Puritan church. Only those who were pious and pure were among the elect, and these same people were the only ones allowed to be members of the Puritan church. This was done to create a “pure” congregation, similar to the pure glory of God. By remaining pious and becoming a part of the elect, Puritans believed that they would have the chance to live with God in heaven, which meant they would have the opportunity to bask in his “bright light luster” where no “earthly mould” could approach him. In this sense, becoming part of the elect meant becoming pure and holy, or unearthly, to be able to be in God’s presence in heaven.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 18, 2018

      I really liked this poem from “Contemplations”. The poem flows beautifully in the way it rhymes. Something that I noticed was that it really reflected how important God and religion was at this time. Bradstreet believes that “…he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light.” It’s apparent here that Bradstreet worships God. This poem also made me think about the Puritans’ idea of election. Puritans believed that they would have the chance to join “…he that dwells on high” because they were a church comprised of solely of those who were pure.

      One thing that I did think about was the juxtaposition of this poem and the previous poem. The first poem, I believed, was talking about the sun god, Apollo, from Greek mythology. I am currently taking a class on Milton, a British author who lived in relatively this same time span (1608-1674) and where his writing mentions a lot of Greek mythology, this Early American Literature focuses more instead on God, since of course, that’s what they believed in. The juxtaposition of Poem 1, referencing Apollo and Poem 2, about God made me wonder about whether or not Greek mythology had a place in America during this time.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 19, 2018

      I also felt that this paragraph reflected the Puritans ideals. It almost sounds to me like the speaker is talking from beyond the grave when he says “How full of glory then must thy Creator be? Who gave this bright light luster unto thee”, but I eventually began to have the feeling that the speaker just believes in God so passionately that he doesn’t need to be there to know what is waiting for him if he follows the Puritan ways. “as, to approach it, can no earthly mould” made me feel that the Puritans believed they were better than most and that with their pure ways was the only way one could approach heaven, and god at his throne.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 19, 2018

      The poem in general is very religious. This paragraph stood out to me in particular because Bradstreet that the birth of humans is more noble than any other birth, yet humans also will not live as long as nature will. On the other hand, humans who follow this religious belief will end up living longer through eternal life after death.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 19, 2018

      Time seems to be a theme throughout Bradstreet’s poem, Contemplations. Here though, it really struck me as interesting because I sense an amount (maybe very small) of doubt from the speaker. Man is created inferior to nature, but isn’t allowed to feel inferiority without positivity.  How hard would that be? I feel that is what Bradstreet is illustrating for us. Maybe I only think this because I know from previous classes that these poems weren’t written to be read by anyone but Bradstreet herself, but I do sense an insecurity from the speaker.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 21, 2018

      This stanza seems to echo Bradford and Winthrop’s writings/sermons whereby the importance of constancy in all times is stressed by the speaker. Faithfulness and loyalty to the church, as we learned, waned in later generations and it was remarked upon that this erosion or declension of the congregation was believed to be due to the individuals and not the church itself. Instead of searching for weaknesses within the church’s doctrine, we see again the Puritan’s attempts to place blame on the individual rather than the practices they followed. Members that were struggling with faith, or perhaps found the teachings too severe, were seen – as Bradstreet describes – “mariner(s)” that were more fair weather friends than true parishioners.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 21, 2018

      The naturalistic elements as well as the reference to “Diety” show the appeal to a higher being and appeal to God so revered and respected by the Puritan society during this time frame. Her apparent awe, and overwhelming wonderment at nature and creation, just shows the internal desire to live up to being deserving of these natural beauties and giving praise, possibly even out of fear for what would happen if honor was not given properly. The Puritan belief of being undeserving and grateful for all things given is seen “The more I look’d, the more I grew amaz’d…” Bradstreet also uses the phraise “Had I not better known..” Showing the belief that was prevalent during the time that sharing the Bible truths was both sacred and being a part of the beliefs necessary to fulfillment.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on January 21, 2018

      I really enjoy Bradstreet’s metaphor here of the mariner upon the sea navigating “this world of pleasure”. Not only does she craft her metaphor quite beautifully, the Puritan message of primal purity is also highlighted in her message.  The very real natural imagery of the mariner fighting the stormy seas feels appropriate when compared to the endless “sea” of spiritual temptations that are seemingly so abundant in the New World.

      She seems to be saying that when things are going well and you have achieved the earthly desires of honor, wealth, or safety it is a deceiving sense of security. In truth it is during the storm, or hardships, when all those pleasantries are stripped away that it can be realized that “only above is found all with security”.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 22, 2018

      When I first read this stanza, I was reminded of the commandment that forbids making false idols, though this probably wasn’t Bradstreet’s intent. The speaker in the poem is awed by how beautiful and strong and long-lived nature is in comparison to humans. I took her asking if she should praise nature instead as almost a nod to those who turn away from God to worship something that, in their eyes, is better than God or what God claims to be important. The speaker then casts away the idea at the end of the stanza, choosing to believe that man is more “noble” than other creatures because man will get to live on in Heaven with Him, while nature will die and fade away completely.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 22, 2018

      Data visualization for Bradstreet’s Poems

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on January 22, 2018

      This stanza stuck out to me because of what we had talked about in a previous session of class. The tale of how all was perfect in the paradise that was the garden of Eden, but how Adam’s actions led to the demise of Paradise for the human race. The transition from an easy life to being forced to “get his bread with pain and sweat of face” through hard labor. I really liked it because in a few lines it told a story we all know and it did it in a smooth, chronological, and effective story telling way.


      Comment by Aleida Luna on January 22, 2018

      I find interesting but not surprising how she decides to end the poem.   
      She reflects on how the sinful creatures that “joys not in hope of an eternal morrow” (30) and “Their names without a Record are forgot, Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust. According to Bradstreet’s faith this is the dismal outcome of every soul that decides a different path for his or her life. On the other hand, she seems to be saying that God has a total different plan for the faithful puritan society. “But he whose name is graved in the white stone shall last and shine when all these are gone.” What I got from these lines is the expression of the Puritan lifestyle, which is to live and enjoy the beautiful creation like if you were going to live forever in this earth without ever forgetting that you don’t belong in it. Instead God has a much more satisfying place on eternity but only the few chosen ones are going to divinely partake of the hard to achieve glorious place.  




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      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on January 22, 2018

      I really liked this poem. It really shows what a woman feels like when she loses a child or grandchild. Especially a young child. The name of this poem tells that the child was only a year and a half old. However, she also makes it clear that it is God’s hand that guides fate and nature. She isn’t blaming God, but make it clear to her readers that it was God’s decision to take her grandchild.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 22, 2018

      This poem is beautifully written and, in my opinion, acts as a very vivid example of worldliness that Dr. Olsen-Smith discussed last week. It’s interesting that the narrator is not part of the discussion but merely listening to it and even though we can assume the narrator is the author, we see a deliberate focus and preference for the argument of Spirit rather than Flesh. Bradstreet doesn’t resort to the same sort of name calling and general feeling of derision that we’ve already encountered in some of the other authors. However, she is very assertive in her phrasing and we understand that she definitely believes in the idea of being in the world but not of the world.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 22, 2018

      Nice observations. The opening stanzas demonstrate repeatedly the Puritan reflex, where nature is used both to affirm God’s existence and to assert his awe-inspiring majesty, superiority, and absolute sovereignty.  An attendant theme is the smallness and insignificance of humanity; ie, “no earthly mould [or form]” can approach the sun in terms of either distance or stature (in paragraph 8 below). It is interesting to note how full of praise for nature the poet is in the opening stanzas, in contrast with her attention to original sin and the depravity and weakness of human beings in later stanzas. Yet the poem will go on to explain that God’s elect will in fact outlast the world, and so should not treat the world as their abode and destination, but should renounce earthly hopes and instead focus on the afterlife.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 22, 2018

      Looking at now day society this paragraph can talk about how a mother wishes she could give her still bloody weeping newborn baby a better life if she had made better decisions in her life and wasn’t involved or used to be involved with a man who is/was nothing but lies. She fears and thinks about his future as any good mother does, hoping for the best.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 22, 2018

      “The Flesh and the Spirit” personifies the Puritan belief that the soul and the afterlife are more important and should be of more concern than the material life on earth. The spirit’s point of view takes up the majority of the poem and is clearly the “sister” that Bradstreet believes to be true. Flesh argues that people should “Take thy fill, / Earth hath enough of what you will.” To which Spirit replies that Flesh engages in sin when instead she should be focused on God and the everlasting life that comes after their time on earth. Spirit claims that she is from the father above while Flesh is from Adam; thus, the soul is of God, while the flesh is from Adam and associated with sin. In this poem, Bradstreet lays out many examples of the Puritan belief that people are in the world but not of the world, and, because of this, they should be focused on and striving for the life they will have with God when the soul is no longer tied to the body on earth.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on January 22, 2018

      This goes back (in my opinion) to our class discussion about the election. It also makes me think about being in the state of grace and performing the works in hopes to be elected and to stand beside God in the afterlife. I like how Jessica pointed out the puritan belief of being deserving of such wonders and beauty, better yet living to a standard that would allow the narrator to be deserving of these gifts of beauty around her.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on January 22, 2018

      I think this stanza is interesting because it reminds me of the idea talked about last week that these people believed they were not of this world but merely passing through. The first few lines of this stanza had me a bit confused because she seemed to be “praising the heavens, the trees, the earth”. Bradstreet seems to be breaking a rule of her religion, as Kiah states above, but I think the reason this is fine is that she is merely contemplating the possibility of doing so. Later on in this passage Bradstreet seems to shift her opinion on these physical (or earthly I suppose) elements that she contemplates praising. She says, “Nay, they shall darken, parish, fade and dye, / And when unmade, so ever shall they lye”. This says a lot because she is stating that these lovely things will soon be no more. She then goes on to write, “But man was made for endless immortality”. She compares these earthly pleasures to mankind, or at least the ones who are going to heaven after death. She states that these earthly things are not immortal, but this group of people are, as they are just passing through to heaven.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 22, 2018

      This section of the poem appears as if Spirit is simply boasting to her sister, Flesh, that she will triumph over Flesh’s materialistic lifestyle with a life of abstaining from earthly indulgences. I would further suggest that Spirit is in conflict with herself, that the materialism of flesh is tempting, and to overcome the temptation, she claims that she is the victor of the two, providing some consolation in her abstinence, as it is for the sake of a win in a invented competition. Certainly, Spirit uses the rewards of heaven to provide purpose for her rejecting gold and expensive clothing, but her argument does not seem anchored in just piety for the sake of heaven, rather, she may be finding reconciliation in piety through a sisterly competition. The poem in its entirety seems as if it argues that colonizers must do whatever it takes to live of the world with eternal heaven as the goal, even if it means constructing a competition. This may not have been Bradstreet’s goal, but I would argue that the language and plot insinuates an ends to a means agenda.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on January 22, 2018

      Poetry always has meanings behind the meanings and for this section of the poem it is backed by rich detail that adds so much to the meaning behind it. Overall, the details here show signs of autumn/fall in a seasonal sense but gives some details that remind on of a living being such as “trees all richly clad, yet void of pride.” This clue in of pride could be relating to Phoebus but most likely are bringing the trees to life with some personification. They were richly clad trees but they knew they need not be prideful.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on January 22, 2018

      I found this stanza in Contemplations to be a place where Bradstreet takes the liberty of inserting a lot of doctrine and theological concepts. The fact that Adam, now a fallen creature, is reminiscing about Paradise and obviously longs to return to it to no avail, acts as an example to Puritans to continually be longing and looking forward to future paradise in the afterlife. Here we see the subtle emphasis of the Puritanical idea of ‘being in the world yet not of it’.

      Additionally, the last four lines of this stanza serve to offer yet another example of the doctrine of Total Depravity – that humankind is wholly and utterly evil with not a shred of good in him. Through vivid imagery, (“naked thrall”, “miscreant”, pain and sweat”) Bradstreet paints a bleak and despairing picture of humankind as a whole (as I think she does quite regularly), describing it as a “backsliding Race”. I think that this kind of imagery and parallelism is aimed at being directly applicable to the conflict between ‘worldliness’ and the Puritanical worldview that was happening around this time.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on January 23, 2018

      Melissa you make some great points. I definitely see how the Puritans and Christianity play a role in this poem. Bradstreet uses their role in her life to express it in her writing.

      About your second idea, I believe there was no role of Greek mythology during this time. A belief in any other God would end you in damnation. IT was not welcome to follow or believe in anything other than your one God. So, OI agree that it was contradictory for their to be another poem from this time with Greek Mythology references in it.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 24, 2018

      What a terrible and beautiful outcome from Bradstreet’s house burning down. I say beautiful because the loss of this house served as a metaphor for Bradstreet’s piety without vanity. The loss of her house seemed to be a true test of her faith from her own perspective, and her language seems to prove she remains faithful. This poem made the concept of letting go of worldliness clear to me. “Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity,” sums up this poem for me and brought to light what I gather Bradstreet is promoting. There are also themes of God’s will in this poem. Here we can see that God gives and takes and that is his will to do so, “Yet by His gift is made I thine own”. Furthermore, this poem summarizes the concept of being in the world, but not of the world, as house is not her eternal home, it is merely a place where she resides on Earth and her belief in God makes the tangible house only a temporary vessel until the afterlife.

  • Philip Freneau, <i>Poems</i> (24 comments)

    • Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 1, 2018

      This paragraph stood out because it seemed as though it was an agreement or appraisal of what Paine had previously written. He mentions how Paine’s  Rights of Man is not consistent with the government. It is a different idea that opposes the hierarchy where it would typically move from God to Kings/Royalty to the Aristocrats, to the peasants and general public. This is reminiscent of the idea of millennialism- there is a change in view. Instead of looking at the crown as a point of authority and respect, it is looked at as a “childish bauble call’d a crown, /the gilded bait, that lures the crowd, to come”. Similarly, natural law can also be seen in this paragraph. Rather than living under a hierarchy, natural law dictates the idea of equality and all men are subject to the same things, even the kings or those of royalty.  

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 1, 2018

      Here, Freneau definitely emphasizes the importance of nature in deism. In puritanism, nature was viewed as a way to get closer to God, but deism views nature as a gift from God that can be used to make one’s life more successful and fruitful. In the poem “On the Emigration to America and Peopling the Western Country,” he says, “commerce plans new freights” for nature, which implies that it won’t be wasted or viewed as unnecessary any longer. Rather than take nature for granted, Freneau and other deists attempt to use nature as God intended for man to use. I thought this paragraph tied into other poems and provided a great standard for the views that deists have of nature.

      Comment by Ries Cope on March 2, 2018

      This section of the poem was really interesting to me. I believe what he is saying is that when you are born you are nothing yet, and when you die you are nothing once again. You have a short time in between being born and dying to make an impact. He says “For when you die you are the same; The space between is but an hour, The frail duration of flower.”  I believe what he means is that you will die eventually and compared to the big picture one life is about an hour throughout all of history so you better make that hour count while you’re alive before you become to frail to continue living.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on March 6, 2018

      I also found this interesting, I interpreted the passage in a similar manor. From my understanding its saying that at birth you have nothing to lose because you are nothing hence don’t value anything. It goes on to continue saying that when you die you are the same, well I understand that in a way when you die you can’t take anything with you, and once again you are nothing. The time we spend between birth and dying is a short time despite living being the longest thing we do, it is a mere hour compared to everything else in this world. I also really enjoy the connections made to nature aspects such as the flower and the morning suns and evening dews.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 6, 2018

      You made a great relation to millennialism, Elizabeth. However, I disagree with you when you say that this seemed like an agreement or appraisal of Paine’s readings. To me, it seemed as if Freneau was mocking Paine. He states, “Thus briefly sketch’d the sacred Rights of Man” (NAAL 804). The fact that Freneau uses the word “briefly” makes it clear that Freneau did not believe Paine had put the proper thought or time into his writing. He also states, “How inconsistent with the Royal Plan!” The fact that Freneau brings up the Royal Plan at all made me think that he supported the King. Furthermore, he states, “The gilded bait, that lures the crowd, to come”. Freneu, I believe, is talking about America. From my understanding, he is saying that the promise of a new life in America is the “gilded bait” that lures people away from England and to America, where they will meet, “The quack that kills them, while it seems to cure”. With the language and content of this paragraph, I got the impression that Freneau definitely disagreed with Paine’s writing and htat this was written in almost a mocking tone to scorn and discredit what Paine had written.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 6, 2018

      Hi Melissa,

      I like the point that you bring up about Freneau’s use of the word “briefly” I can’t see why Freneau would use the term as it does usually imply that there is a lack of in-depth analysis on the topic, unless perhaps Paine’s book was just short.

      However, I do think that Freneau agreed with what Paine was saying. In his biography, it says that Freneau “wrote impassioned verse in support of the American Revolution and turned all his rhetorical gifts against anyone thought to be in sympathy with the British monarchy” (791). This is reflected in the poem through his unflattering and harsh representation of the crown as a “base, childish bauble” that causes the crowd to “bow down their necks, and meet a slavish doom”. the use of “crown” refers to the King, and subjects usually are depicted as bowing down to the King, so terms like “bait”, “lure”, and “doom” would imply that Freneau is condemning the British monarchy. And to tie it to previous readings, Jefferson’s original draft of “The Declaration of Independence” speaks on the need to separate with a government that doesn’t work for the wants and needs of its people, which I believe is what Freneau meant by “the sacred Rights of Man, / How inconsistent with the Royal Plan!”.

      It’s interesting that we came up with two different readings. Maybe the middle ground is that Freneau believed that America should separate from the British monarchy, but Paine did not adequately explore how or why it should be done.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on March 7, 2018

      The concept of Deism is evident in the writings of Philip Freneau as he states that nature is the way to freedom in the poem “On the Religion of Nature.” He expresses his inner struggle as he invalidates the traditional religious ideology and emphasizes the importance of nature and its positive outcome in the following lines. “This deals not curses on mankind, Or dooms them to perpetual grief, If from its aid-no joys they find, It damns them not for unbelief;” (805). Because the burden of rigid religious tendencies has left a negative impact on humanity, he says that nature is the solution to the human predicament. In nature, humanity can find freedom not damnation because it does not curse man or sends him to eternal suffering. In other words, he believes that nature is the essential element humanity needs for fulfillment and happiness.




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      Comment by Kayla Smith on March 7, 2018

      In this stanza and the one that precedes it we see a familiar tactic being used in regards to the symbolism that can be found when smaller waterways join with larger ones. In Bradstreet’s work, she used the imagery to tie together ideas of cohesiveness in a congregation, and the relationship between any one parishioner and the Lord. Here in Freneau’s poem, however, we can see the shift from religion to commerce, from importance of the congregation to the importance of the individual. This importance is especially marked when referring to the “every man” versus that of the king. Freneau addresses the water, but he is really talking to the new nation and the people in it.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on March 7, 2018

      [And commerce plans new freights for thee.]

      Freneau is touching on two different themes in this stanza. First he is promoting the concept of individual sovereignty to his audience and promoting the message of freedom for the states from the British crown. He is also applying the theme of commerce as being one of humanity’s “God given gifts”.

      With such a relentless focus on sovereignty and the evolution of humanity in the literature we have been reading recently it is no wonder that materialism would be the end goal and result to the founding fathers.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 7, 2018

      Those are good points, Kayla and Denise. In this stanza, the combination of “commerce” with “heavens decree” is striking compared to the conception of providence and piety we studied earlier. Freneau here associates God’s will and design with commercialism and the material profit motive.  The Puritan mandate to resist earthly temptations and embrace the spirit appears completely abandoned–even stood on its head, with commercialism as the chief good ordained by the heavens.  This marks the final stages of Declension, as latter-day Puritans like Edwards construed it, and the beginning of the society we now know and live in.  As a Deist like Paine, Freneau is confident that this will lead toward moral progress as well as material prosperity. Note the first line in the very next stanza: “While virtue warms the generous breast, There heaven-born freedom shall reside.”  The mind starts out as a blank slate, and if you remove human beings from corrupt environments like the countries of Europe, they will be allowed to develop their God-given potential to achieve virtue through freedom of opportunity.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on March 7, 2018

      This is an interesting thread and I would argue that Freneau is being critical of both Paine’s Rights of Man as well as the British monarchy. I read the entirety of this under the impression that it was highly sarcastic and demonstrates Freneau’s belief that Paine’s writings were instrumental in inciting the revolution but that he ought to have done it better, at least that was my understanding. I also think that he is arguing that America will not only survive but thrive without the “leadership” of the monarchy, as Kiah pointed out.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on March 7, 2018

      I agree with what you are saying. Even though puritans and deism think nature as different in values, it is also a connection to God.  This poem shows the importance of nature because they need to protect it and God’s creations and use it the right way.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on March 7, 2018

      This stanza interests me mostly because I don’t know what Philip Freneau meant by it. I understand he is arguing for rationality when he says “When Reason shall enforce her sway,” which seems to support deism. However, what confuses me is the last two stanzas: “Where still the African complains, / And mourns his yet unbroken chains.” I don’t know if Freneau is invoking irony here, or if he is justifying slavery.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on March 7, 2018

      This stanza of “On the Religion of Nature” seems to reflect the differences between Freneau and many of the works by other writers, like Edwards for example. The first two lines of this stanza seem like a direct statement on puritan ideas, such as innate depravity. Freneau says, “This d3eals not surses on mankind, / Or dooms them to perpetual grief”(19-20). These two lines seem to suggest an agreement with Tabula Rasa from Freneau.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on March 7, 2018

      I also thought this section was interesting. I think that he is somewhat right in saying that we have nothing to lose when we are born, and nothing to lose again when we die. He is right in the sense that when we are born, we have nothing, therefor have nothing to lose, and when we die, we cannot take anything with us. In comparison to most other things in nature, our lifetimes are like an hour. Other things in nature live for such a long time, but when he wrote this, people lived for an even shorter time than we do now, so their whole lifetime would’ve seemed very short in comparison to most things in nature.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on March 7, 2018

      This paragraph was the most interesting to me out of the rest in “On the Emigration to America and Peopling the Western Country.” This is the opening paragraph and gives readers an introduction into the rest of the poem. I always enjoy things that talk about nature and here in the intro passage we as readers receive an introduction of a character involving nature. From the woods to the planes, Palemon, a character of importance, emerges from a crowd. It goes on to say that something, possibly this character, is a genius of nature and comes to tame the soil or till it to be able to plant the things needed on earth to survive.

      Comment by Erin McManis on March 7, 2018

      This stanzas goes back to how they began their lives on the shores of the U.S. This is starting to show their feelings for being slaves to a king that they don’t feel loyal to. It is obvious that a revolution is imminent. It is very interesting to see the mindset of what was going on then.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 7, 2018

      This paragraph right here feels as if it is foreshadowing the revelution. The diction used here portrays the bitter attitude that surrounds Europe. There is a competitive undertone here that insinuates America is a stand alone country already, comparing it to Europe. It almost seems challenging in tone.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 7, 2018

      The entire poem particularly has irony throughout. Although supposed to be uplifting and inviting, I find that it is only inviting and uplifting to the White Americans, disregarding both slaves and Native Americans. In this particular passage, Freneau states that “The unsocial Indian far retreats” predicting the removal of the Native Americans from their own lands. (I am curious to know if these actions were currently underway when the words were written). The irony comes from the fact that this is a poem welcoming the people to America with optimism; which is meant to show the vision of the future of freedom. However, the suggestion of the Native Americans being removed from their own lands, and the actuality of what happened in history hinders the optimistic tone of the poem intended to have.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on March 8, 2018

      Freneau compares religion to nature and what im getting is that he is saying you do not need a priest, a church, or a revelation to see God’s way. You can worship anywhere at any time and there is no need for physical “religious” gatherings. He explains how proof of God is all around us in nature. Cold he be stay mother nature is God himself? im not sure, but i could be taken that way when reading this particular poem. The poem is clearly written in a time when religious depute surrounded everyone and in the end Freneau is hoping that we can all agree on religion. I also think maybe agreeing isnt possible or necessary but more tolerance is necessary and should have been more of an aim. 

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 8, 2018

      * Revolution

      Comment by Erica Moyer on March 8, 2018

      note to self in class:

      rationalism- new way of looking at religion rather than only seeing at as being with a church, priest, or a designated way of worship he points out that it goes beyond that

      individual sovereignty – allows for people to worship in their own way rather than being told what to do and how to do it and the right and wrong way to worship

      Comment by Jessica campbell on March 9, 2018

      This paragraph sticks out to me due to the description sounding so scientifically accurate, and so down to earth as opposed to earlier works we read. You can see the scientific reasoning combining with religion and the belief in God, and here you can no longer see the many mentionings of God and heaven and Hell as was previously present. Instead, we now see “soil,” “shores” and the wonderment and excitement of exploring new lands, but with also the seriousness of such endeavors. You can also see the appeal to earthly realms with the terms, “Europe” and “crown” which show the more earthly focus on the here and now in combination with respect and appreciation for the heavenly realms though not necessarily outwardly spoken. The relation to small earthly emotions as well as earthly positions of power show a less tinted lens on the reality presented and Freneau becoming more consumed with the reality being experienced at present.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 15, 2018

      Data visualization for Freneau.

  • Mary Rowlandson, Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (23 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 1, 2018

      Data Visualization for Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on February 1, 2018

      In this paragraph, we can see how Mary Rowlandson was aware of her own innate depravity and how God’s grace and absolute sovereignty influence her life. Rowlandson recognizes her sins and where she has failed god when she says, “I then remembered how careless I had been of God’s holy time; how many Sabbaths I had lost and misspent, and how evilly I had walked in God’s sight.” She then goes on to explain how God’s grace saved her, even though she views herself as unworthy of his forgiveness. “Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me, and upheld me; and as He wounded me with one hand, so he healed me with another.” This also displays God’s absolute sovereignty in the lives of the Puritans. He has the power to change their lives entirely, and he “wounded” Rowlandson and changed her life through her experience with the Indians.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on February 3, 2018

      While this reading was very powerful and filled with much heartbreaking imagery, this section in particular stuck out to me. I thought that this section was really reflective of both God’s grace and God’s absolute sovereignty. Author Mary Rowlandson’s oldest sister here sees her mother and children slaughtered and asks the Lord to kill her as well. When she gets her wish and she too is killed, I was conflicted as to whether that was a representation of God’s grace or God’s absolute sovereighnty over man.

      On one hand, I thought this represented God’s grace. Rowlandson’s eldest sister has just seen horrific things–her family being slaughtered while she is helpless–and she too wants nothing more than to join them. Her wish is granted when she dies and, assuming that she and her family is among the Select, she gets to reunite with her family in the afterlife of Heaven. Here, God has granted her her wish and reunited her with her family, represented his Grace. However, I was conflicted because it seemed a little morbid for God’s grace to be killing one of his own followers.

      So, on the other hand, I thought of it as representing God’s absolute sovereighnty. He owes nothing to his followers; all they can do is hope to earn a seat next to him in the afterlife. In this passage, Rowlandson says that her sister was not the most devout follower of God. She states that, “In her younger years, she lay under much trouble upon spiritual accounts, till it pleased GOd to make that precious scripture take hold of her heart” (NAAL 310). In this way, I think that God owes nothing to even His most faithful of followers, and also to His troubled follower. Therefore her death was not a representation of His grace, but rather just an untimely death, as God owes her nothing. All she can hope is that her following of God allows her to be “reaping the fruit of good labors, being faithful to the service of God in her place” (NAAL 310).

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on February 3, 2018

      In this passage, I see a lot of militaristic imagery as well as absolute sovereignty. Rowlandson says, “‘Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he has made in the earth”, as well as, “yet the Lord by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death”. This gives the impression that it was God who caused all of the destruction and desolation because he is the one with the absolute power. Yet, he is also the one who saved the few. Militaristic imagery is also apparent in this paragraph, “There were twelve killed, some shot, some stabbed with their spears, some knocked down with their hatchets… Christians lying in their blood”. Here Rowlandson is describing how the Native Americans came and killed a lot of the Christians through violence.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on February 4, 2018

      I agree, there is a lot of references to absolute sovereignty. There is a lot of violence in the paragraph as well as the portrayal of the Indians as savages ruthless people. There is also a lot of mention of religion in the passage regarding those being killed or taken captive but there is no tie of an religion or spiritual connection to the Indians which is also a lack of representation. I did find the passage a bit contradictory because it does seem as if she’s saying because of God there were was massacre and 12 died instantly but then it does feel as if she is saying thank God for the rest of us who were captured and not killed. Yet, being captives wasn’t anything to be too happy about.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on February 4, 2018

      There are many interesting things to appreciate with Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. One of these things is that, I think, with the passage of time we are able to more readily read the work as objectively as is possible. That is to say, that the events described are of that of two different cultures and the atrocities that were committed against each side. This being said, I have to say that I was struck by the staggering level of hypocrisy found within the text.

      Paragraph 53 is as good a place as any to highlight for this. Here the author chastises the Native Americans for their callous behavior, when she herself has demonstrated this same attitude again and again. I refer not only to her reaction to the young baby of her mistress’ that died, but also later on toward the English child whose food she took and ate for herself when it was apparent the child was struggling with the meat. This is only one example of many that can be found throughout the text, and makes me curious at the reception of the work in its time. It does not surprise me that it was popular or that those of European lineage were apt to side with her, but I wonder if there were any in the author’s time that chided her blatant hypocrisy.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 4, 2018

      This entire reading was so moving and so vivid, and this passage in particular stood out to me because of the reference to scripture. Scripture is used throughout the entirety, and I am quite certain she did not have a copy of  the Bible with you, so just knowing that she had most likely memorized the Bible and this verse for me was very moving. She used this to call upon God in her time of need, at a time when she could easily crumble she looked to God for balance and strength. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isaiah 43.2) 
      We couldn’t possibly imagine the homesick feelings of hopelessness, loss, and loss of dignity she felt being laughed at and abused in such a way. Even in her darkest hours she looked to God and her faith, and maintained her dignity within and patience to hear the good news that she is leaving to Wachusett. Sadly, at the end of the passage, we see once again she is not among Christians as she had hoped. Her spirit seems to be wrought with peril and emotional ups and downs throughout this perilous journey, but her strong faith in God helps her find balance and gives her encouragement when she is feeling down. “but in my distress the Lord gave me experience of the truth, and goodness of that promise.”

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 5, 2018

      Here is a glimpse of Rowlandson’s unwavering spirituality. In the wake of such tragedy, she still finds herself in God’s presence, “carrying [her] along, and bearing up [her] spirit” (312), experiencing God’s grace through her ability to carry on in her travels. Even after falling from a horse and being humiliated in front of the natives, she attributes His grace to the renewal of her strength, and hints at his absolute sovereignty as the driving force that kept her going so that she “might see more of His power” (312). In her own words and experiences, Rowlandson was only able to survive her ordeal because of God’s will.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on February 5, 2018

      This paragraph shows some of the challenges that Rowlandson had to go through to increase her faith in God. One of the most sorrowful happenings she had to go through was the loss of one of her children. Where she could have chosen to commit suicide, she decided to follow the words of the Bible and continue living. When the other horrible things that happened to her, God answered a prayer of her being able to see her remaining children. God see ing that her faith had been strengthened throughout the ordeal granted her the prayer. This paragraph leads up to her talking about how her faith in God kept her going. “But the Lord helped me still to go on reading till I came to Chap. 30, the seven first verses, where I found, there was mercy promised again, if we would return to Him by repentance.” This line can sum up the whole paragraph because God helped her keep moving with all the negativity around her, but through the trail gave her mercy by showing her children. To reach God a person must go through a trail to prove that is where they belong.


      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 5, 2018

      This passage interests me because it reminds me of Taylor’s poem, Upon a Wasp Chilled with Cold. In that piece we see the wasp near frozen, what we could see as a reference to hell on earth. The wasp is delivered to heaven by the providence of God. Here, we see this woman, who was “so near her time”, and it is God’s providence that the woman is “knocked on the head”, and delivered to heaven. God saved her from the Natives, or hell on earth, as Rowlandson refers to many times.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on February 5, 2018

      [that I may say as David, “I had fainted, unless I had believed, etc” (Psalm 27.13)]

      I found it very interesting how Rowlandson referenced passages of scripture and used them as her own words, as seen here when she, “says as David”. This reference here to Psalms (as well as the many other references to the Old Testament for her expressions) appears to be a strong demonstration of the typological belief structure, the recurrence of events from the Old Testament, of the Puritan faith. Her use of scripture also supports the concept of providence and that God guides the human destiny both in the past and present.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on February 5, 2018

      This paragraph is the perfect example of the puritan idea of “providence” She states that she was weak and in her time of weakness of body she looked to the scriptures and when she felt that she was ready to faint, the scriptures “fed” her. Providence is the idea that the Lord will give one strength, so the fact that she read the scriptures as she was ready to faint allowed her to continue is the pure idea of puritan providence.

      Comment by Ries Cope on February 5, 2018

      I agree, in paragraph four she said “I had often before this said that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive” but when they did come she chose to be taken alive. I believe like you said that she still found herself in God’s presence because he was helping her survive by “carrying [her] along, and bearing up [her] spirit.” (312). Even when she fell off and everyone laughed, she felt as if the lord “renewed her strength, and carried her along” (312). In this passage especially you get a really good sense of Rowlandson’s spirituality. I also agree with you on the part that she is experiencing God’s grace throughout the travels with the Indians, he is making her stronger and making her believe that she can keep going. Like you said Rowlandson really did believe that she was only able to survive because it was God’s will.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on February 5, 2018

      What a moving story by Mrs. Rowlandson’s faith and devotion to God in the midst of her unfortunate situation. This particular passage struck me because of her boy’s resilience. After Mrs. Rowlandson’s little girl died, how comforting she must have felt to see Joseph, her young boy alive again. She states that while traveling upon the river her company stopped and while resting her son Joseph appeared unexpectedly and talked about each other’s situation. “I asked him whether he would read. He told me he earnestly desired it, I gave him my Bible, and he lighted upon that comfortable Scripture “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord; the Lord hath chastened me sore, yet he had not given me over death” (Psalm 118.17-18). I don’t know how old was Joseph at this time, but I think his willingness to read the Bible in the midst of so much pain, danger, and uncertainty shows his dependency on God’s authority and Providence. In this particular passage, he seemed to be happy and relieved that even though he was going through God’s chastening, God would spare his life.    

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on February 5, 2018

      I agree that there this a lot of militaristic imagery. She speaks a lot about death and captivity. She states, “There was one who was chopped into the head with a hatchet, and stripped naked, and yet was crawling up and down.” Here she is talking about how the Native Americans killed lots of Christians. This passage has quite a lot of terrible things that are talked about.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on February 5, 2018

      [But I knew that He laid upon me less than I deserved.]

      This perfectly illustrates the idea of innate depravity that we’ve seen from our previous readings. Rowlandson repeatedly comes back to the idea that the entirety of this ordeal has been brought on because she must bend to God’s will and that it is not for her to question the severity of the abuse she is subject to or the small kindnesses that she also receives throughout her captivity. Her utter and complete devotion to her faith is evident as time progresses and she is witness to and a victim of more brutality, both physical and emotional.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on February 5, 2018

      Mary Rowlandson is enduring terrible treatment and literally watching her child die in her arms and yet she continues to thank God because she’s still alive. This is an example of true piety within an individual; Rowlandson has such faith in God that instead of becoming angry or depressed, she continues to worship God. She writes, “Oh, may I see the wonderful power of God, that my spirit did not utterly sink under my affliction: still the Lord upheld me with His gracious and merciful spirit, and we were both alive to see the light of the next morning” clearly depicting her complete faith in the Providence of God; that God will see her through this trial and that he wishes she endure it.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on February 5, 2018

      I would agree with you that this is a very powerful reading. The piece as a whole is very sad and full of misery but just like you, this part stuck out  to me. I like that you narrowed the key concepts reflected here, to God’s Grace and God’s Absolute Sovereignty over man. I agree with your analysis and can see where you would question this. Before I read your post I only really saw the killing of Rowlandson’s sister as more of God’s sovereignty. I really like the way you worded it, that God “owes nothing to his followers”. This really helps with the comprehension of the term. After reading your post, I can see how you related her death to God’s Grace. She did wish to die, understandably, after what she saw, and it is as if God granted her her wish. I just like you, struggled with the idea of grace involving the killing of a faithful follower. Thanks for the insight!

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on February 5, 2018

      I think this paragraph is interesting because it brings out some interesting things happening in this text. For one, the son’s reaction to his mother telling him his father was well was strange. The sentence, “He told me he was as much grieved for his father as for himself” confuses both myself and Mary Rowlandson. She seems perplexed by this and I’m not entirely sure what the son means by these things. Another thing that interests me is the last three lines of this section. The son tells Mary that the Indians are getting gunpowder from the French. This is also interesting because some of the master’s men were killed by the Indians. I am interested in knowing if this story has a bit more behind the curtain because as it stands I am unsure what to trust about this exchange between the Native Americans and the French people selling these things to them.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on February 5, 2018

      I found this paragraph in Rowlandson’s account to be especially poignant and moving, as she describes the terrible ordeals that she went through during her time of as a slave of the Natives. What struck me most was the incredible amount of faith and trust she displays in the face of adversity. After losing most of her family, watching many of them die horrible deaths when she was captured, and being forced to helplessly witness her six-year-old daughter pass away, Rowlandson’s faith somehow manages to remain intact. She invokes God’s sovereignty as a comfort to her amidst her trials, and uses scriptural references to the previous persecution of God’s people as a parallel to her own situation, bringing her hope that God will continue to take care of her. Regardless of the criticisms that we have made of the Puritans and their doctrine as well as various personal issues we may have with those Puritanical belief systems and the injustices therein, I believe that this woman’s strength and courage in the face of such adversity is not only exemplary, but also breathtaking and worthy of admiration.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on February 5, 2018

      As Mary Rowlandson does throughout this piece, here she speaks to the small fortunes she experiences as a prisoner. She comes to realize that this interaction with the Native American may have some risks, as he has killed two Englishmen and kept their clothes, despite him being giving to her. We do not learn what his intentions are in this passage, but he seems to be a glimpse of reprieve Rowlandson, which to this point, she has been taking with little question. The passage may sum up the entirety of the piece for me, for she encounters danger, but has such resolve that she finds the finds pleasure in things that would have repulsed her prior. Here, though, she gets to eat pork with salt, which seems a delicacy to her. With the last sentence of the passage, she points to how her journey as a prisoner affected her, where one does not appreciate the small things when they have everything. That piece of pork may not have been so savory if she had not needed it in her long term starvation.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on February 6, 2018

      I totally agree with your comment here, she seems to really buy the Puritan’s belief and way of living. I think this idea of her being ‘weak’ without the scripture can also lead to the meaning that she physically can’t live without it. God id what gives her life and meaning to keep living. I also can see this passage as a way of informing her audience that, no matter what you’re going through there is a passage in the Bible that can help. She literally just opens the book and finds a passage that reflects perfectly on what she needed. It can be inferred that it will happen to others that follow Him as well.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on February 10, 2018

      This is my favorite passage. Mary has come the realization that she never really had many things to worry about. She was happy and didn’t put much effort into much of anything. Her captivity changed that. She soon realizes that that as God sees fit to put her thought these things in life she seem to know that God’s intentions are because h would never put her thought something she cant handle. She realizes her dependence on the will of God she also says “it is good for me that i have been afflicted” which make me think that she is grateful for the suffering she has been going through be cause it opened her eyes to the “vanities” of the life she was living.  She says she has learned to look beyond the smaller troubles meaning she sees that there are bigger problems around her and her afflictions have made her see that.

  • Anne Bradstreet, To My Dear Children (23 comments)

    • Comment by Hillary Colton on January 19, 2018

      Bradstreet truly intrigues me. I feel her vulnerability is so crucial to understanding the time she lived in. This section stood out to me particularly because of her honesty. Her poems make sense to me even more so now, having read this. Bradstreet did question her faith, and she confesses it here. It amazes me; the struggle of Bradstreet and her people. How many of them must have questioned their faith, and how could they not? The perils of their lives not only in New England but in “Old England”.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 21, 2018

      This paragraph was interesting to me due to its relationship to paragraph 15. Throughout this piece, Bradstreet discusses her various sins and how afflictions that God gave her brought her closer to him. In this paragraph, Bradstreet tells her children to take chastisement from God “thankfully and Joyfully as in greatest mercyes, for if yee bee his yee shall reap the greatest benefitt by it.” However, when discussing her pilgrimage to America in paragraph 15, Bradstreet says that she hasn’t found “that constant Joy…which I supposed most of the servants of God have,” which makes it seem like her troubles didn’t result in the happiness she claimed it did in paragraph 13. Despite her dealing with these various afflictions and hardships, and still being not as happy as others, she says, “But when I have been in darkness and seen no light, yet have I desired to stay myself upon the Lord.” Through these two paragraphs, we can see that Bradstreet feels that troubles and afflictions given by God are necessary for one to be close to him, even if their happiness isn’t the same as someone else’s.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 21, 2018

      Again this paragraph struck me due to the puritan ideals regarding badness being both brought on by God and deserved due to past imperfection or perhaps internal affliction due to the imperfection of man. “…the Lord Laid his hand sore upon me and smott mee with small pox.” In order to become well again, this belief that submission to God was needed to become well, “…I besought the Lord, and condessed my Pride and Vanity and he was entreated of me, and again restored me.” She believes, as most did at the time, that suplication to God will gain forgiveness and blessing no matter how undeserving the believe that they are.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 22, 2018

      Data visualization for Bradstreet’s letter.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 22, 2018

      This particular paragraph stood out to me because Bradstreet claims that it pleased God to keep her from having children, which in turn, caused her grief. The question that comes to my mind is how can the causing of grief be justified? Is it like when she was 16 and caving to vanity so God gave her smallpox? Was she not following God devoutly so her consequence was that she could not bear children for some time?

      Comment by Erica Moyer on January 22, 2018

      My favorite lines are the first 3 in this paragraph. I am not a religious person, however, i have found myself asking the same question “how i could know whether there was a God.” this is just such a powerful message especially in the lines that follow about how “I never saw any miracles to confirm me.” How simple would her miracles have been to ease her thoughts about God’s place in her life. She is so honest in her feelings that while she questions whether there is a God, she can tell there is a higher power or and “eternal Being” based on the beauty and the wonders that she sees around her. this was by far my favorite paragraph.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on January 23, 2018

      This stanza stood out to me because of the harsh yet grateful tone it took on. Begins with again the idea that the Lord has been kind and when she is in pain or sickness she looks to him to eventually feel better. She goes on to say “altho: he grounded me to powder…” pretty harsh in my option wasn’t expecting that. I really enjoyed the interpretation of Heaven and Hell and how the only thing that decides whether you’re in heaven or hell is wether or not you have the love of God. In my experience inviting God into your life is having God love you so how I viewed this was if you have god in your life you will enter heaven and if you don’t have God in your life you will end in Hell.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on January 23, 2018

      Here, in the close of this private letter to her children, Bradstreet clearly expresses some of the core Puritan values that we have been learning about. Bradstreet explains that she has seen the Worldly temptations lure the less pious Christian’s in the colony away and possibly alluding to a degree of Declension. She also gives direct reference to “the elect”, or those chosen by God, and expressing the potential of their own fall from Grace if they do not strive to keep their souls pure on Earth.

      She closes the paragraph on a note devoutly expressing the repeated theme of Absolute Sovereignty, as everything in being in God’s “charge”. I noticed throughout most (if not all) of Bradstreet’s pieces she ends on this line of direct praise and devotion to God, as though even her writings are only made possible through him.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 24, 2018

      This passage reflects our key term introspection. Because she was often sick, Bradstreet had plenty of time to analyze herself and “search what was amisse”. This time seems to have helped her over come her doubts about the Puritan faith, as she spends this letter imploring her children to put their faith in God and maintain their religion. I think the statement that God used Bradstreet’s illnesses as punishment and a reminder to strengthen her faith is an interesting conclusion, and I wonder if perhaps this conclusion came to her because she feared death and to believe in God’s plan made her less afraid.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 24, 2018

      This paragraph stood out to me too. She believed as many Puritans did, that if something bad happens that they must have displeased God. She went to God just as any Puritan would and when she got better she believed God cured her because she had confessed her pride and vanity to him. As you said God will gain forgiveness and blessing no matter how undeserving they believe they are. I could imagine living as a puritan, with everything bad or good happening in your life is solely based on your relationship with God. If something bad happens to you and you pray to God to fix it, but nothing happens what do you do then? Faith is a good thing, but I believe sometimes you have to take things into your own hands.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 24, 2018

      I thought that the introduction to this piece was really interesting. While it sets the reader up to know what to expect in the piece, it also contains a lot of insight into life. As Bradstreet says in the first sentence, “I, knowing by experience that the exhortations of parents take most effect when the speakers leave to speak…” (NAAL 272). Just this first bit of reading already contains an important message–that words tend to matter most when the speaker ceases to speak, or when the speaker passes away. The introduction also contains the purpose of this letter, as she says, “…but that you may gain some spiritual advantage by my experience” (NAAL 272). Bradstreet is writing this in hopes that her children can not only learn from her experiences, but gain some sort of advantage spiritually from these letters. I thought that this introduction was an interesting and effective way to grasp the reader right out of the gate by not only conveying purpose, but by also conveying important life lessons.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 24, 2018

      Here, as in with many of Bradstreet’s works, we see again that idea of internal division. In my opinion it is her willingness to examine and discuss this inner turmoil that made Bradstreet rhetorically effective and appealing to her audience. While Puritan beliefs stress the need for ever-certain faith and a dogged loyalty to God – the author reveals the relatable weaknesses of the human condition.

      To have a contemporary writer that openly voiced doubts and struggles with faith, but usually by the end of the piece finds a hopeful resolution despite all this, must have been incredibly comforting to like minded readers of her time.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on January 24, 2018

      In the beautiful written letter, Bradstreet says that in order to be grounded and devoted to her faith, God had to chastened her with affliction and sickness. “I have no sooner felt my heart out of order, but I have expected correction for it, which most commonly hath been upon my own person in sickness, weakness, pains, sometimes on my soul, in doubts and fears of God’s displeasure and my sincerity towards Him; sometimes He had smote a child with sickness…” What struck me in this stanza is the way she inflicts emotional distress upon herself in order to live up to the Puritan ideals. How terrifying must of felt believing that every time one of her children got sick, she was the one to blame because her devotion to God was not good enough.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 24, 2018

      I agree with both of you about the power of this letter and the depths of serious self-awareness and honesty it reveals in Bradstreet. The confessions of religious doubt and sinful inclinations in this letter are indeed extraordinary, and they reveal a compelling complexity in the Puritan character that has not been apparent to us in writers we’ve studied until now. This is of course where the internal division phenomenon originates. As Hillary asks, how could one not question the existence of God in a world as brutal as unjust as it appeared in this time period, and as Erica points out the absence of miracles in Bradstreet’s life posed just as many problems for her belief system as they would for a modern human being. It is significant that her doubts are associated with her past attempts to reason her way into belief, but that her accounts of actual religious experience involve more to do with emotions and intuitive experiences. This was an important distinction for Puritans, and we’ll see Jonathan Edwards developing an appropriate vocabulary for it in his sermon “A Divine and Supernatural Light.”

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 24, 2018

      Like both of you, I thought her vulnerability in this paragraph was striking. What I wondered, though, is if anyone reading might have considered it heretical or would they have accused her of not being “pure” enough or without grace? She does assert several times that she believes in God, especially in the next paragraph, but the fact that she questions the existence of God himself could be construed as not fully believing. Although, I might be wrong in this assumption.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 24, 2018

      I agree this paragraph talks about God punishing those who claim to follow him but don’t. This, however, was not the reason why this paragraph stuck out to me. My mother was given one bad thing after another until she sought after God.

      Just as the author was given a “trial” period, I think–God not giving her children for some time to test her loyalty–just as I think God might be testing my mother’s.

      Comment by Erin McManis on January 24, 2018

      I completely agree with you on the introduction, it is a great hook to grasp our attention abd summaruze what we will be reading. I think it’s great that she left this information for her children. Though we do learn all our lives from our parents, we don’t always ask our parents why they think or believe a certain way. You can tell that she feels very strongly and passionately about her religion and beliefs. It’s a great letter and read.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on January 24, 2018

      I think the idea that Bradstreet probably has to justify this decision by God is that she was not ready for a child as of yet. As someone who is not religious this seems a little absurd to me, but understanding Bradstreet’s background it seems that this is something she would probably believe. Looking at paragraph 14 Bradstreet says, “I have had great experience of God’s hearing my Prayers, and returning comfortable Answers to me, either in granting the Thing I prayed for, or else in satissfying my mind without it…”. Bradstreet seems to be satisfied with God no matter what he does and she seems to justify his actions by convincing herself that this is better for her and she will be happier with whatever path was chosen for her. It seems reasonable to me that a woman of her background would question God’s choices, but still believe in them to the fullest extent.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on January 24, 2018

      I completely agree with you. It seems odd to me that she thinks God is pleased that she wasn’t having children, and that she was grieving over it. I think it is odd that anyone could think that God takes pleasure in watching his children grieve.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on January 24, 2018

      This final paragraph is quite interesting. It states that while writing this she was very sick and weak so the writing may seem a bit off because it was weakly and imperfectly written. It is interesting because she goes on to state that if the reader can pick anything of benefit out of the writing then that is what she aimed to do. I find this odd because she initially never wanted her works published yet she ends this as if it was to much more than her children. Sure, her children would have read this, but it seems as if she was addressing more audience than just them.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 24, 2018

      Throughout this piece, it stood out to me how willing Bradstreet is to voice her questions and doubts about her religion. She struggles with her faith in a very human way that the previous authors we’ve read have not addressed. She intended this piece to help her children find faith in God through her own experiences and used effective rhetoric devices to achieve her goals. Rather than just instructing her children to follow God’s will, she gives examples of times in her own life when she struggled to understand why God put her through the difficult times she endured. She always responds that her faith in God was strengthened by the struggles; the cause and effect examples are far more persuading than lecturing could have been. Bradstreet wrote this piece with a goal in mind that she effectively achieves through her rhetorical choices.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on January 24, 2018


      I agree with your statements. It is interesting that she did not want any of her works published, but this one shares a great deal of personal experience because it was supposed to be shared with her children. In the opening paragraph she states, “…but that you may gain some spiritual advantage by my experience.” I think that the main goal of sharing this with her children was so that her children could also spread this message about God and how one should live their lives in a world full of materialism. Her stating that any benefit gained out of the reading makes the words she has stated so much more profound, especially to the intended audience. Altogether I find the reading a deep and honest account of a Puritan young women who wanted what she experienced to be shared with those closest to her.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on January 24, 2018

      I found this paragraph very interesting in the manner with which Bradstreet addresses the role of the troubles and tribulations that she has experienced in her life. The final sentences where Bradstreet equates the role of afflictions to “the rod” on her back without which she is prone to wander. I see this as yet another example of total depravity, emphasizing the fact that without this constant “rod” or threat of impending discipline, she is hopeless to make any good decision on his own. The kind of introspective, internal struggle depicted in these lines and elsewhere between good and evil mirrors the struggle the Apostle Paul had in Romans 7:16-17 (ESV) when he states: “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” However, unlike Paul, who turns around to praise Jesus Christ for giving him the ability to choose to do good, Bradstreet paints a picture of God as an authoritarian father, crediting the threat of divine retribution and revocation of her state of grace with keeping her in line to “keep thy statutes.” While I see this passage partly as an inspirational ideal of finding grace and strength in the midst of trials, I also think that it focuses on painting a very legalistic, disciplinary and authoritarian view of God and his allowance of affliction.

  • Michael Wigglesworth, from "The Day of Doom" (23 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 5, 2018

      Data Visualization for Michael Wigglesworth.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 8, 2018

      This paragraph in the poem struck me because of the suddenness, the guilt, the reverence, and seriousness of their actions directly correlating to their relationship with God. The meaning is to not get too comfortable and not think that sin is going unnoticed. Not only will fellow neighbors but also God and Christ will weep at the sins. The beginning of the poem starts harsh with imagery of sin, virginity, and warnings. Now begins a rhythmic beat almost as if things are now rushing into the embarrassment, darkness, and finality of sin.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on February 8, 2018

      This reading was so different from those that we’ve read previously. I was struck throughout the reading by the intense imagery. This paragraph, however, stuck out to me with the most powerful imagery. It states that God cried for the Dead to arise and the Judgement come, and “No sooner said, but ’tis obeyed;/sepulchers opened are;/Dead bodies all rise at His call,” (NAAL 297). This imagery of the dead rising at God’s call was a horrible image that was engrained into my mind. I found it interesting that previously, God has been described as a great and gracious God, while here a very different picture is painted of Him. Instead of seeing Grace here, I see more of Damnation. In my mind, resurrection of the dead is more closely aligned with Satan and demons, not with God and His Grace. Someone can correct or inform me, but through the reading, I didn’t fully understand why God raised the dead. In the margins of the book it states, “1. Thes. 4.16 Resurrection of the dead. Joh. 5.28-29” (NAAL 297). Is this just written in reference to the Bible, or is there another alternate purpose here?

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on February 8, 2018

      I thought this paragraph exemplified some of the themes that we discussed in class. It discusses the themes of absolute sovereignty of God “Whose glory bright, whose wond’rous Might, / whose Power Imperial.” Not only does Wigglesworth acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of God during this time, but he also brings up the theme of innate depravity and damnation in this stanza. Innate depravity is shown through the lines, “That tongues of men (nor Angel’s pen) / Cannot the same express,” and the following lines are an example of the fear of damnation that puritans had during this time. They’re scared to sin in God’s presence, so he says, “And therefore I must pass it by, / lest speaking should transgress.” I thought this stanza was a great example of how puritans resisted the modern ideas and sciences and chose to focus on the absolute sovereignty of God and man’s own innate depravity.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on February 8, 2018

      This paragraph stood out the most to me because of the damnation and divine judgment that can be found in it. Wigglesworth notes that the “Sinners awake, their hearts to ache,/trembling their loins surpriseth;/ Amaz’d with fear…” Those who are sinners and who have not repented are facing damnation due to God’s divine judgement. God is the one who decides who will be saved and who will not when his son returns. I feel like this paragraph is the paragraph where the sinners realize that they are damned to Hell.

      Comment by Ries Cope on February 9, 2018

      This passage stuck out to me because I feel he is saying that if you don’t see God as your lord and savior, then he doesn’t see you. When he says “Now Atheist blind, whose brutish mind a God could never see” is where it really stood out to me. Then he asks if they don’t believe they will be judged. “Dost thou perceive, dost now believe that Christ thy Judge shall be?” This passage is really interesting to me because he is saying that atheist threaten the way of God, but it also sounds to me like he is threatening the atheist when he says “How cheer you now? Your hearts, I trow, are thrill’d as with a sword.”

      Comment by Kayla Smith on February 10, 2018

      Michael Wigglesworth, during this passage, draws attention to a concept that was touched on in a few of John Donne’s works. Whereby, Donne encourages his readers to not fear Death so much that they allow that fear to detract from their lives and daily communion with God. In this piece we can see that the suddenness and fear of death was (and is) a concern for most people, both in and out of religious communities. The author plays on the anxieties that a continual repeating experience of death causes most people, and uses that to warn against a life that would result in said experience occurring.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on February 10, 2018

      [dear Love’s transcendency,]

      After reading the piece I though that another good term that could be added to this reading guide is transcendence. The notion of transcendency, especially as depicted here, follows well with the Puritan concepts of Election and salvation vs. damnation.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 11, 2018

      In this stanza, grace is a central theme. Wigglesworth is discussing the idea of behavior versus grace. When he says “No hiding place can from his Face, sinner at all conceal,” he is telling his audience that God knows whether you are true. It’s the same idea we have seen previously: Puritans don’t want hypocrites amongst them, only those with internal faith, or grace. We also see the idea of divine judgement; God has the final say in what happens to the individual. God sees all, and he will judge you as he sees fit.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on February 11, 2018

      I agree with you, as I read through this stanza it did feel as if the theme of Grave or forgiveness against behavior. The idea that there is a high power and you are never truly alone because God is always watching. There is also the idea as you mentioned that only those with internal faith and are truly loyal and follow the religion are worthy of salvation. Aside from the message in the stanza the entire poem is very well put together and flows well which makes its very appealing.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 12, 2018

      This passage was interesting to me because in out previous readings, nature was always an extension of God’s majesty and power, an example of the Puritan reflex through its beauty. In this stanza however, nature is actually afraid of God, fleeing from Him “so soon as he draws near”. In this way, Wigglesworth’s poem seems to also be an example of the Puritan reflex, but instead of focusing on nature’s beauty, it shows that things as huge and powerful like the mountains and the sea pale in comparison to God’s absolute sovereignty.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on February 12, 2018

      I have to admit to laughing out loud when I read this stanza. Wigglesworth proves adept at using condemnatory phrasing to clearly indicate the desire for the damned to essentially do God’s job and end themselves immediately. The irony here is evidenced by Wigglesworth’s reproach to Satan’s perpetually damned but happy followers to not fear their predestined eternity in hell. It is abundantly clear why this epic poem was wildly popular as it gives a clever and scathing voice to the idea of Puritanical election.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on February 12, 2018

      To me, this stanza sounds as if God conflicts with those he created. In his anger, he rips Heaven apart in search of those he is displeased with. The line “His Brightness damps Heav’n’s glorious Lamps” this could have more than one meaning. I can interpret this as saying that his anger is brighter than the peace and beauty before him in Heaven, or that in comparison to everything he outshines anything. The last two line can show that the sinner, and the darkness, can’t stand the brightness of good. He shows his light to show them the correct path and the lead them away from wickedness.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on February 12, 2018

      Stanzas 182-184 concern revelations 6.16-17, which the KJV of the bible says: 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
      These verses seem to beg the question, how will you face the wrath of God and Jesus on the final day, how will you be judged? The language in  Michael Wigglesworth’s stanzas 182-184, demonstrate what that day, outlined in Revelations, may be like, where God is “Judge”, sinners are damned to everlasting pain, and what seems to be a final roll call to those who believe they will be saved. These three stanzas seemed to be intended for the reader who is a sinner, to tell them that the worst will come for you, damnation, if you do not repent and remain pious. Perhaps the most heavy hitting lines in this stanza are that damnation would be so terrible that you will wish you have never been born. This seems like proper motivation to the “ungodly” to change and follow God.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on February 12, 2018

      This passage also stuck out to me. I agree with Ries that he seems to be saying that if  you do not see God as your lord, then he does not see you. This is very interesting to me because I think that people really believed this at this time. They believed that if you did not worship God, then he had no love for you, and would not save you. It is just amazing to me that people could have ever thought this about God. I think that now, people think that God is forgiving to everyone, even those you do not worship him.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on February 12, 2018

      In this stanza I noticed the correlation between Bradford’s teachings on how he wanted to inspire a generation of Puritans by warning them about the dangers and ramifications of worldly temptations, desires, as well as prosperity and materialism, and the fate of those who did not abide by the Puritan way of life in Wigglesworth’s poem. “You had a season; what was your reason such precious hours to waste? What could you find, what could you mind that was of greatest haste.” This is the answer it was given to those facing eternal damnation. Here they felt convicted and wanted another opportunity. These lines touch on divine judgment and carnal reason. The sinner lost focus and spend their days on vain endeavors giving no importance to spiritual matters and soul preparation for eternity.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on February 12, 2018

      This stanza stuck out to me because of the harsh wording. While this type of word choice prevalent throughout the work it seems exceptionally cruel here. The first two lines here are especially cruel. Also, I would like to bring attention away from the meaning for a moment to comment on the form of this work. This work follows an ABABACDCD rhyme scheme and flows nicely due to the number of syllables in each line. The syllable structure is 8, 6, 8, 6, 8, 7, 8, 7. I think it is important to note the precise form that the work takes, along with the word choice. It is beautiful and form but cruel in meaning, but that is the point. Also, this work seems very similar in meaning to some things we will be reading by Jonathan Edwards for next class.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on February 12, 2018

      The language of this poem stands out to me because it is so vivid and dark. I’m reminded of the old testament with a vengeful, unforgiving God more than the new testament in which Christ has saved humanity. “No heart so bold, but now grows cold, / and almost dead with fear” this is not a very encouraging image, it’s rather frightening, and continues throughout the poem. Powerful men “Are quite abasht, their courage dasht, / at this most dreadful sight.” The new testament is filled with plenty of happy images and a loving God, but this is clearly not the case in this poem.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on February 12, 2018

      I, too, was struck at the vastly different tone that this work has in comparison to many others that we have read before this. While other works were highly legalistic and showed no grace to their fellow man, they consistently reference to the grace that God had shown to them. However, in this work, we see the destruction that divine wrath and judgement bring to the earth, ending in the final climactic lines: “Dead bodies all rise at his call, / and’s mighty Power declare.” I think a part of this comes from the content that is being conveyed. the Bible portrays the end times in terrifying, confusing and sometimes violent imagery, and this piece takes further creative license to themes that already show some of those elements. Whereas Taylor and Bradstreet chose to focus on the daily Christian walk, Wigglesworth choses to focus on the prophetic works in Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation which already tend to be less ‘grace-full’ and instead focus on the damnation of the non-elect.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on February 12, 2018

      Jessica, I like what you said here. There is a very definite change in tone in this stanza that stands out from the rest of the piece. I like what you said at the end about the rhythm “rushing” into sin and its awful aspects. I too was struck by they way the poem turned slightly here to represent more of the sinful aspects with the rhythm that seems to newly develop in this paragraph. It is always mind blowing to me how devoted these people were to God and their religious outlook on every aspect of life.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on February 12, 2018

      This passage particularly stood out to me because it seems to convey the message of the poem very well. Encourage people to consider their own spiritual devotion to God, the poem as a whole seems to be an awaken call for the people. Wigglesworth states that the sheep stand “at Christ’s  right hand” and that because of this they are “champions” and God is appealed with them at judgment day. The example of the others in the scriptures who serve Christ is a message to the rest of the people to consider where there own spiritual devotion to Christ is, so on judgment day God can be “appealed” with them as well.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on February 13, 2018

      In this stanza, I can see how Wigglesworth is quoting questions that his fellow Puritans may be asking of God. Asking for forgiveness and hoping God will have mercy on them. However, Puritans believe you are either born damned or not. God knows the outcome of your life and where you will end up, so why question him? They ask for mercy but Puritans that even if you show a shred of doubt, you’re going to hell. Wigglesworth is a firm believer and preacher of the Puritan rules and way of living. This entire poem reflects that. Asking for forgiveness on the ‘Day of Doom’ may not get you into heaven if you lead a life of sin and I see how this poem reflects this thought. Wigglesworth is trying to show the reader a purpose to live out their lives the holy way and not to stray from God’s presence.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 14, 2018

      This paragraph struck me due to the suddenness and doom of the passage. In the fifth line, “Sinners awake, their hearts do ache,” it can be seen the Puritan belief in the all powerful sovereign of God and need to devote themselves wholly to him for fear of repercussion due to internal sin along with poor earthly choices. The last two lines, “Amaz’d with fear…each one of them ariseth” uses scripture to ascertain the actions and thoughts of those not under God’s favor and calls to mind scripture referring to the final dayss when the wicked arise and not everyone saying “Lord, Lord” will be saved because of poor choices made on Earth. The scriptural emphasis is also seen with the term the World, relating the idea that they are saved due to what they’ve seen and earned, and are different from the World also relating to scripture, “we are not of this world.” The suddenness is seen in the third line, “…speedily an hideous cry” shocking these ones into subservience and forcing them to pay for their actions.

  • Susanna Rowson, Charlotte; A Tale of Truth (23 comments)

    • Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on April 14, 2018

      I thought it was really interesting to begin this reading by directly addressing the readers. The narrator writes this Preface to not only address her readers, but to make it very clear who her intended audience is. She states that, “For the perusal of the young and thoughtless of the fair sex, this Tale of Truth is designed” (NAAL 880). The narrator makes it clear that her intended audience here is women. I was surprised by this, as our previous readings haven’t made it clear who their intended audience is, whereas this reading makes it crystal clear. The narrator even goes on to say, “I could wish my fair readers to consider it as not merely the effusion of a Fancy, but as a reality” (NAAL 880). The narrator even has a warning in her Preface, which I thought was something different as well. The narrator’s voice continues to be prominent throughout the entire piece. For example, on page 895, on the second to last paragraph, the narrator takes a pause from the story to put in her own two cents. Seeing a piece with such a strong narrator voice was different than other things we had read, and I think that’s what made this reading interesting for me.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 15, 2018

      [“Oh Charlotte, conscience tells me it was I, villain that I am, who first taught you the allurements of guilty pleasure; it was I who dragged you from the calm repose which innocence and virtue ever enjoy;]

      This passage stood out to me because Montraville clearly reaffirms this idea of women being naturally pure and virtuous. In his mind, Montraville is the one who corrupted her, making men seem as if they are naturally sinful. I think it’s funny that Charlotte has been blamed for being unfaithful when Montraville has established this difference between purity and impurity. It would seem to me that Belcour should be the one at fault, since women are naturally innocent and men are the ones capable of perverting them.

      Comment by Ries Cope on April 16, 2018

      I completely agree. This reading is very unique in this way. By the author addressing the attended reader; the reader gets a better understanding of what is being portrayed. The narrator states that “yet as it was impossible to offer a relation to the public in such an imperfect state, I have thrown over the whole a slight veil of fiction, and substituted names and places according to my own fiction.” By announcing that the places and people are fiction but the actions are true before delivering the piece the narrator builds a trust between her and the audience. For myself personally, I felt I connected even closer to the piece because of the preface. With the warning, and the added trust being received before hearing the story itself built connections and excitement for the piece to come.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on April 16, 2018

      [A tall, elegant girl looked at Montraville and blushed: he instantly recollected the features of Charlotte Temple, whom he had once seen and danced with at a ball at Portsmouth.]

      I find it very interesting that Charlotte is first seen from the perspective of someone else and we don’t learn anything about her as a person until many chapters later. This is a strong move in that it defines just how prominent a role her beauty will play throughout the novel. But it’s also interesting because at this point in time a woman’s beauty, not her mind, is the most important thing about her. This story appears to have a similar opinion to that of society at this time,  a woman’s job is to be seen – to be a lovely thing for others to view. Rowson defines Charlotte’s appearance through a man’s eyes long before we learn anything of her intelligence or moral character.

      Comment by Erin McManis on April 16, 2018

      I agree. I like the fact that she is writing this for women and for that hope that some young lady, who may have no one else to turn to can be helped by her words and information. “I flatter myself, be of service to some who are so unfortunate as to have neither friends to advise, or understanding…”  (NAAL 880) This drew me in more to the piece. She is not writing it for her own notoriety, she actually wants to help and shed light on the truth of the issue. It also is about women so that made it even more relatable to me. 

      Comment by Marie Gentle on April 16, 2018

      This passage seems like a newer, updated version of the the ‘internal division’ motif that we’ve been seeing throughout the semester. Although, here, it is used to illustrate Charlotte’s indecision of going with Montraville or staying and being loyal to her parents. Despite the difference, it still utilizes the idea of sin and repentance as a means of redemption. Judging from the narrative so far, it leads me to think there is going to be a significant downfall for Charlotte.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on April 16, 2018

      This paragraph was full of detail and gave readers a fantastic description of one of the characters, Charlotte Temple. He inquires if Belcour had noticed her and then states that the way she looked made him feel devilish odd about the heart. This is of course something that you would never hear in today’s day and age. Devilish has two definitions, one as an adjective, “of, like, or appropriate to a devil in evil and cruelty” and one as an adverb, “very; extremely.”  If one were to read it with one of these definitions in place of the word, it could read as if Montraville felt a hatred towards Charlotte or even a possible extreme love towards her. 

      Comment by Kayla Haley on April 16, 2018

      This passage stood out to me, particularly because we get the reason as to why the narrator chooses to tell this story. Already stating the story is founded by someone else the narrator makes it known that she is concerned with what happened to Charlotte. If possible she wants to, “save one hapless fair from the errors which ruined poor Charlotte, to rescue the impending misery heart of one anxious parent” (Rowson 881). Here readers get a glimpse of the moral and ethical dilemmas that may occur throughout the story. To me, it seems the story is written as a sign of warring with details added for enjoyment. The implication is made that the events to come will be shared as an example of how to avoid those rather than to simply get a reaction out of an audience.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on April 16, 2018

      I agree that this paragraph gives some details to a character, but I think the main reason why she was described in this way was to bring in a feeling of attraction. In either of the definitions, that Anne gave, fascination can play a role in both. Going by the descriptions of devilish supplied; he could be so attracted to the girl that he feels evil for having the feelings or he’s so attracted to her that is causing him to hate a girl based on her looks (or in the denial of feelings).

      Comment by Ky Alexander on April 16, 2018

      Mr. Eldridge’s dialogue is uncanny, he presents as a wise, meandering, poetic man while he talks about the death of his wife and son. The reader has been informed to this point that the wife and son have died in an unknown manner, and left Mr. Eldridge and Charlotte in a considerable amount of debt. In this passage, Mr. Eldridge pleads his case for his need of help, and his God praising language and sometimes positive attitude may be in his service, especially since the amount his needs is so grand, five hundred pounds. The reader can also gather how important Charlotte is to Mr. Eldridge in this passage, she has not yet left him, though she seems to have other resources, and he is grateful. We also see in this passage the character of Temple, a giving man, not so wealthy as to support Mr. Eldridge, but expressing innocent kindness at this point in the story, the narrator even reflects that if a person has the will to do something, they can make anything happen.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 16, 2018

      This paragraph stands out to me because Rowson is comparing marrying for money is just as immoral prostitution. Rowson is basically saying its the same thing, by agreeing to get married and have sexual relations because the significant other is wealthy is the same thing as being a prostitute. And in her writing, uses the term “legally prostituted”. Also, Rowson predicts that all marriages for money end in splendid misery.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on April 16, 2018

      Here again, I think we see the impacts of Enlightenment thought in the attitudes and actions of people’s everyday lives, even fictional ones. I find Montraville’s sweeping blanket statement that he never thinks of the future but is determined to make the most of the present to be indicative of this influence. In an active rebellion against the Puritanical idea that people were “in the world yet not of it”, the Enlightenment thinkers opted to reverse that mentality and use it toward material gain, the way that Montraville is so employing it in his lust for the material things of this world, i.e. Charlotte Temple. His brazen overstatement is understandable for the times and literary style of the day, and yet the underlying assumptions he bases his assessment of Charlotte on are inherently materialistic and have fragments of Enlightenment ideals woven into them.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on April 17, 2018

      This paragraph interests me because it is filled with self reflection as well as reassurance towards the audience (the reader). It seems somewhat strange to preface a story with all this information (all four of these passages before the actual story have interesting ideas in them) but in a way it seems to guide the reader into the story with some knowledge about the goals of the author. The sentence that stands out to me most in this paragraph is, “but conscious that I wrote with a mind anxious for the happiness of that sex whose morals and conduct have so powerful an influence on mankind in general; and convinced that I have not wrote a line that conveys a wrong idea to the head or a corrupt wish to the heart…” It kind of makes sense that Rowson prefaces this story when looking at the subject matter. Also, the title itself serves as a preface, “A Tale of Truth”.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on April 17, 2018

      I also found this interesting. I think you’re correct that this is a very strong move that shows how much beauty was valued. It also shows how people felt when this novel was written. As you said, in this time, a woman’s job was to be seen, not heard. I found this to  be a very bold move.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on April 17, 2018

      This was really interesting to me because of the lack of knowledge regarding mental and physical health during the time period. The state of fever and despair could be due to adrenal failure as a result of stress, physical exhaustion, or perhaps an actual illness due to a viral or bacterial infection. While pulling away from the idea that all trails are a result of Satan, the vague obscurity and confusion regarding scientific explanations about ailments, be it mental or physical, is still quite clearly a work in progress.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 17, 2018

      Data visualization for Rowson’s Charlotte.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on April 17, 2018

      In Marion Rust’s academic article, “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?’, Rust points out Charlotte’s indecisiveness and examines how Charlotte’s indecisive nature ultimately leads to her fall to the bottom of society. This particular paragraph is one example that Rust uses to point out Charlotte’s indecision and, in my opinion, it is the most apparent example. In this paragraph, Charlotte has received a letter from Montraville. However, as Rust points out, Charlotte can’t even decide what to do with this letter without first consulting her teacher. As Rust states, “With every moment of indecision, La Rue steps in to direct Charlotte’s path–“Read it to be sure”–and it is thus and not through any overwhelming desire of her own that Charlotte is impregnated” (Rust 102). Rust argues in her article that every point of Charlotte’s indecision can be tied to her fall from society, and this is one of those moments. Charlotte can’t decide what to do with the letter from Montraville, and looks to La Rue for direction. That same indecision seen here leads to Charlotte going to her lover to tell him that they are no more, and faints into his carriage, at which point, Rust says, “we are to assume that the fatal deed is done” (Rust 102). Rust even goes as far as to say that Charlotte’s “future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity” (Rust 102). Rust can clearly connect every small instance of Charlotte’s indecision to her fall. Even something that may seem minimal, such as, in this instance, not being able to decide what to do with a letter, ultimately plays a role in Charlotte’s fall.

      For a link to Rust’s article, click here.

      Works Cited:

      Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 24, 2018

      In Blythe Forcey ‘s “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity,” Forcey lays out the importance of the narrator interruptions in Rowson’s Charlotte: A Tale of Truth. Forcey states that the “warm, motherly narrator” is instrumental in telling a “terrifying cautionary tale” without making her readers feel “lost or abandoned” (227). This narrator helped her first American readers “live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears…[emerging] …with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). Forcey goes on to say that, without Rowson’s interruptions, Charlotte’s “simple, quiet voice could easily have been misread or ignored” as readers (like Charlotte) might have thought her seducers’ speeches to be compelling (230). Rowson’s interventions serve as a way to convey the ultimate truth of her story, allowing her to praise or condemn certain actions without leaving the readers to guess it for themselves. Forey describes Rowson’s preface as her attempt to place herself “in the position of a ‘parental supplement’…to help girls who have not got enough help from their parents” (231). Rowson’s use of the interrupting narrator therefore allows her the cultural and filial authority to teach readers how both men and woman should act within society.


      Work Cited

      Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 227–233. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on April 24, 2018

      Miss Eldridge “obeyed.” This is the gist of Rowson, what she stood for as a writer, a woman, and a rule breaker during her day. The text I read brought out the importance of what Rowson stood for, and her standing up for the career of writing as a woman. Rather than being in subjection to the desires of man, or simply pursuing domestic duties or following after a man as Charlotte does in this sad tale, she herself is a testament to withstanding these prior restraints placed on women. She could write about immigration and the pain and loss of this ordeal because she herself had been through it, so when she speaks of “obedience” also she knows exactly what she is referring to. The text on JSTOR brings out, “Angela Vietto argues for the importance of the “literary career” as a category analysis for women, of “examining the course writers followed in their pursuit of writing as a vocation…” Notice here too the expressly chosen use of the word “filial,” as a compliant child would kiss a parent so she devotedly here kisses her husband. Rowson stood for women to be treated with respect due to their intelligence and skill, without subjecting themselves to the whims of men.


      HOMESTEAD, MELISSA J., and CAMRYN HANSEN. “Susanna Rowson’s Transatlantic Career.” Early American Literature, vol. 45, no. 3, 2010, pp. 619–654. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25800116.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on April 27, 2018

      Marion rust’s What’s Wrong with “Charlotte Temple?” looks through Charlotte a Tale of Truth pointing out the ‘passion’ throughout the story. Rust doesn’t only focus and the stories namesake but the other characters within this particular Rowson’s writing. She also doesn’t just point out and talk about the ‘good passion’ but how some of this ‘passion’ was forced or unknown until it was upon her; such as when Charlotte’s betrayer’s brother started lying down his her. To not leave the topic unfinished rust leads to the consequence of the ‘passion’s’ occurrence–pregnancy, indecisiveness, and refusal to take control of her life. 
      Rust, Marion. “what’s wrong with ‘charlotte temple?”.” The william and mary quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. Jstor, jstor, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on April 27, 2018

      Within this passage, we witness the first instance of Charlotte beginning to distrust her own instincts. While at the party she was led to believe would be fun and entertaining, she realizes that being obedient and staying home would have been better than sneaking out with La Rue. As the story progresses we see Charlotte trust those instincts less and, according to Marion Rust’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple'”, her behavior becomes increasingly described as some “form of collapse, in which her future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity.” This continual falling down that Charlotte experiences effectively acts to demonstrate Rowson’s commentary on the unreliability of young women’s own moral character and how they are insufficiently able to stand up to the force of external moral corruption.




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      Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. 

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on April 27, 2018

      In “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity” by Blythe Forcey, it is said that the motherly affection of the narrator is what really makes this story relatable. I found this article to be interesting because I think that it very true. I think the way that the narrator acts in a motherly way really helps the story along. Forcey states, “Early American readers were able, as they read this novel, to live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears. But, guided by the careful and caring narrative of Mrs. Rowson,  they emerged safe and unscathed, with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). I think this is a very important quote because it makes you, as the reader, realize just how good of an author Susana Rowson truly was. To be able to make her readers feel safe even during a scary time, all due to the way this story is narrated. Forcey also states, “The motherly character of Rowson’s narrative voice is evident from her first addresses to the reader… Thus she offers, quite explicitly, to stand in for those ‘natural friends’ that the reader might have lost and to protect them from the horrors of the world” (228). I think this is a very important statement as well. Forcey makes it clear that even from the very first sentence of this story, Susana Rowson manages to take our hand and make us feel safe.


      Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 225–241. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on April 27, 2018

      In her article “What’s Wrong With Charlotte Temple” Marion Rust addresses Charlotte’s passions as well as her inability to make decisions and relates it to her overall fall from her position in society. Rust uses this paragraph as an example of Charlotte’s indecisiveness. Here it is exemplified that Charlotte can’t even make a simple decision on her own. She has to reach out to her mentor in order to decide what to even do with something as simple as a written letter. Rust catapults off this point by claiming that Charlotte’s future will continue to be unguided and spiral downward farther than she already has. Rust bases this claim on the idea that Charlotte will not be able to support herself because she is always looking to some one outside herself to guide her through obstacles.

      Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.


  • Olaudah Equiano, from <i>The Interesting Narrative of the Life . . .</i> (22 comments)

    • Comment by Jessica campbell on March 6, 2018

      This entire story is insightful into a world and mind of someone that we have little other well known literature of. This segment in particular, with the vivid description of this young man’s capture into slavery and unwanted separation from his family, is particularly heartbreaking due to the hopeless of his current situation juxtaposed with his former position of great regard as a young warrior within his tribe and helpful provider within his family. The last sequence particularly drives home the loss and homesickness he felt. His questioning of man and society points to the harsh new reality he has been presented with, one which offers no honor or respect to fellow human beings. By comparing himself to a deer,he is alluding to the fairness of the animal society, one of survival of the fittest, as compared to the mental and emotional abuse of the so-called “civilized” society.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 15, 2018

      Data visualization for Equiano.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on March 27, 2018

      [ I hope the reader will not think I have trespassed on his patience in introducing myself to him with some account of the manners and customs of my country. ]

      Speaking to his skills as a rhetorician I found it very interesting the manner in which Equiano addresses his audience as he does so here. Not only does he speak to his audience but I feel as though he also omits information from his memoir for the comfort of his readers, who at this time we could believe would primarily be white, upper-class males. It seems as though he does not rely on the pathos of his audience, as some other abolitionist authors do, but rather sticks to an intellectual and informational recount of events in his life, very much following the sentiments of the Enlightenment thinkers and readers of his audience.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 29, 2018

      I thought it was interesting how Equiano says, “in honor of those sable destroyers of human rights, that I never met with any ill treatment, or saw any offered to their slaves, except tying them, when necessary, to keep them running away.” This was very ironic to me, because he blatantly calls them “destroyers of human rights,” but then proceeds to say that they treated them well. I think this shows us that Equiano was writing for a primarily white audience and was afraid of seeming too critical about the slave trade. As this section progresses, he finally finds his sister, and he rejoices, but then immediately becomes afraid and anxious for her safety. Instead of just worrying about himself like he had before, he begins to be anxious for his own life and hers as well. I thought this section was a great example of how Equiano switches between trying to please a white audience as well as trying to display his true emotions.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 30, 2018

      I thought that this paragraph was particularly interesting because it showcased the culture of the people. Equiano shows here how central dance and music is to their culture. As he says, “We are almost a nation of dancers, musicians and poets” (NAAL 749). I think that this is interesting both on a personal level and in relation to the other readings from this class. Personally, I think it’s interesting to read and learn about other’s cultures. However, it’s interesting in relation to other readings, as we haven’t had the opportunity to learn about many cultures of Africa. It’s also interesting how much detail Equiano goes into regarding the dancing. He tells about the four divisions, and who dances in each division. He states that, “Each represents some interesting scene of real life, such as a great achievement, domestic employment, a pathetic story, or some rural sport” (NAAL 750). Again, it’s interesting how the culture uses dance and music to express events ongoing in their lives.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 31, 2018

      [ O, ye nominal Christians! might not an African ask you, learned you this from your God, who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice?]

      Equiano directly appeals to his audience in these lines. A majority of his readers would be white Christians who believed that Africans were savages that didn’t care for familial ties. By essentially calling them out, Equiano forces them to think about their actions and how they go against Christian teachings and their own presumptions of Africans. This type of soul-searching rhetoric was probably very effective and very popular for abolitionists trying to persuade people to join their cause.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on April 1, 2018

      I agree, the introduction to this paragraph is very poetic. Equiano makes this relatable to many, the uniting of culture through music, dancing, and poetry speak to the power the arts hold within a culture. The interesting points made pertain to the division and separation by which dancing exhibits in the passage.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on April 1, 2018

      This piece is incredibly dynamic in that it couples passages that make you completely lose faith with humanity, with ones that make you hope it is still redeemable. In this specific passage you have a mixture of both of those things. Here we see the two doctors working as a foil against one another and somewhat representing either end of the spectrum in human nature. Before the events in this section, the Captain too was somewhat ambiguous in the way that, it wasn’t necessarily clear where in the spectrum of morality he was going to land. Throughout the piece we have a lot of the Departure-Peril-Arrival concept coupled with a lot of the in-practice work of implementing ideas and beliefs in everyday situations like we saw in Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.

      Comment by Ries Cope on April 2, 2018

      I completely agree, Kayla. This passage makes you really think that humanity is lost and then the Captain and Dr. Brady reassure the reader that humanity is still in some people and from their humanity hope is drawn. The dynamic of the piece truly shows the different views people have and still do have towards one another. I do believe, however, that the Captain lands on the right side of the spectrum in human nature, in the long run, all that matters is that one cares at the end. He was willing to stand up for and take care of Equiano, showing good virtues deep down. I believe this is part of the Departure-Peril-Arrival’s you spoke of. Seeing the progress that the Captain made towards seeing a black man as a man. He may have been a Captain of a slave ship but during this time that isn’t uncommon, where standing up for and protecting a black man was.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on April 2, 2018

      Olaudah Equiano story resembles the Rowlandson captivity narrative of Providence and Departure, peril and Arrival as well as Franklin rags-to-riches narratives. Snatched from his world, he experienced perils as a slave at sea and in a hostile new land. I find interesting that even in his everyday suffering as a slave, Equiano showed a pleasant disposition. He found favor and grace and people were eager to teach him things that he never thought possible. Although his goal was walking as a free man, he never abandoned the desire to better his life through education. He explains, “I thought now of nothing but being freed, and working for myself, and thereby getting money to enable me to get a good education: for I always had a great desire to be able at least to read and write” (764). Education not only granted him a new world of knowledge but opened doors to opportunities to entered the world of the British empire and his involvement and influence in the abolitionist movement.




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      Comment by Paige Hatch on April 2, 2018

      This paragraph struck me because you can really feel his hopelessness here. He finally has the chance to escape, and then hears that he is too far to make it home. I was really shocked that he chose to go back. This is a reflection of Equiano’s severe pain, and misery, that he would go back to a place where he knows he could be killed or beaten and punished severely for his actions. He mentions several times through out his writing that at many points in his travels, he preferred death. He also mentions that he was 11 years old upon first being kidnapped. For an 11 year old to prefer death to their situation is so sad to me. This writing really provides and inside look on slavery that I have never had before.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on April 2, 2018

      This paragraph intrigues me; it is very effective. Here, not only is Olaudah Equiano proving African American’s abilities, but he is also involved in assimilation. He is central to it; throughout this narrative, we see Equiano adapt to his surroundings. Here, we see this. He is pleased to be able to do what his current community can do. He is happy that he has made his Master money. I understand that, in Equiano’s circumstances, he had to assimilate in order to survive, but he is interested in his present culture. I think it is very effective to narrate as someone who has gained success, despite slavery, in order to bring awareness to the inhumanity present.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on April 2, 2018

      While you make a very logical argument in favor of Equiano trying to write to please a white audience, I think he may have been making a different point in this paragraph. He is defining the difference between black slave owners and white ones, strongly stating that the white masters are much worse in their treatment of slaves. Farther in the work, he is shocked by the white men’s pale complexions so I believe this means he has previously been owned by black masters. When he writes “indeed I must acknowledge, in honour of those sable destroyers of human rights, that I never met with any ill treatment, or saw any offered to their slaves, except tying them, when necessary, to keep them from running away” Equiano is referring to the “destroyers of human rights” as being sable; the individuals that have kept him as a slave up to this point are black like him. This line is doing the opposite of appeasing white readers, it’s pointing out that the white men treat their slaves far worse even than other slave owners do.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 2, 2018

      [in an instant all my trepidation was turned into unutterable bliss]

      Note here how the reversal motif applies even to Equiano’s final emancipation. Whereas earlier in the book most of the reversals tended toward shock, cruelty, and despair, here and elsewhere they can also tend toward joy and deliverance. Even so, the major significance of the device is that it underscores tragically how little control the slave has over his or her own destiny, so that even positive outcomes work to illustrate this negative plight of the slave’s vulnerability to the arbitrary character of external forces and chance. The role commerce has played in Equiano’s ability to purchase his freedom also has connections to larger themes we’ve examined in past writers, but his vulnerability to forces beyond his control sets his experience quite apart from them.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on April 2, 2018

      You mention that he returns knowing that “he could be killed or beaten and punished severely for his actions”, however, according to the passage, this new master and his wife present a very kind disposition towards Equiano. He never mentions having previously been exposed to such violent behavior in that household and they even trust him enough to leave him on his own to leave the house unsupervised. While I don’t discount the levity of his situation, it does seem as if he’s terrified and is possibly imagining a far worse punishment than what he actually receives. He does state, at one point, that he realizes from conversations he overhears that it will be almost impossible to return to his home and family on his own, which makes sense considering that he’s still a child, and probably greatly influences his decision to return to the master’s house despite the punishment he assumes he will be dealt.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on April 2, 2018

      I think he was making a generalization about “them” being the destroyer of human rights as anyone who deals in the slave trade BUT his “masters” never did him harm so could he really consider them to be as bad as the rest? His situation could have been far worse than the one he was in and i think Kylie brings up a good point that he is saying things could have been worse. I dont think he is trying to please anyone. I get a sense of genuine emotion in his feeling here. I think he is not only concerned for him but also his sister and i dont think he had any trouble expressing that. He is very detail in the relief her presence brought to him and even more so in the pain and sorrow it brought when she was taken away again.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 2, 2018

      This is a very interesting perspective on this time period. Usually illiterate, slaves have often not had the opportunity to share their sides of the story. It breaks my heart knowing he remembers being torn away from his family and his mother and at such a young age. This paragraph represents his identity with his home and how he misses it. I also found it shocking that another slave would turn on him so instantly versus trying to help him out. This passage also shows his intention to escape and try and find his way back home. He is actively planning to leave and accidentally is assumed a runaway as he hides in the thicket. Equiano is very open and descriptive about his life and his experiences with slavery.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on April 2, 2018

      I found this passage challenging to my own views on how slavery occurred in colonial times. This narrative of Equiano’s initial capture was extremely interesting to me as I was reading through it, particularly when he talks about the regularity of kidnappings in the area in which he was raised. I find it interesting that the general view on kidnappings and subsequent slavery currently was that white Europeans were the ones that kidnapped Africans and shipped them off on slave ships, but this narrative seems to indicate that they were fellow natives who captured and enslaved Equiano and his younger sister. Additionally, his first master was a chieftain (presumably of his own race) who spoke his own language. I think that this heightens the complexity of the slavery problem and how difficult it was to advocate emancipation and the abolition of the institution of slavery. In hindsight, I think we oversimplify this feeling, but this work is a good reminder that it wasn’t. Because slavery wasn’t just a problem with white Europeans exclusively but simply a problem with humanity and their views on human dignity, it made it more difficult to pinpoint the cause of the problem and create measures that could be taken to eliminate slavery. (I also completely agree with Jessica’s last point on the fairness of the animal kingdom and the injustice of the human kingdom.)

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 11, 2018

      In the article, “I Whitened My Face, That They Might Not Know Me: Race and Identity in Olaudah Equiano’s Slave Narrative”, the author Ronald Paul writes a comparison so Equiano’s “The Interesting Narrative of the Life…” and Fantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. This theory, of how Black slaves will change themselves to become “The Other” White Man when they are enslaved. This is shown in Equiano’s writing, “I now not only felt myself quite easy with these new countrymen, but relished their society and manners.” Equiano had adapted to the Englishman’s way of life and has found comfort in their company. He was told that being Black was ugly and a crime, so for him to want to be and start acting White is a common action taken by the enslaved. He writes, “I had soon an opportunity of improving myself, which I gladly embraced.” Equiano believed he was a lesser being and this article deeply studies this psychopathology and the role it plays in his autobiography. This story is his “emancipation” of his past and becoming a British citizen needs a rough backstory for this choice to be understandable by his readers (852). This article writes about how Equiano fights his past as a Black Slave and his future in a White lifestyle and why his choice was made from a psychological standpoint.

      Paul, Ronald. “‘I Whitened My Face, That They Might Not Know Me’: Race and Identity in Olaudah Equiano’s Slave Narrative.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 39, no. 6, 2009, pp. 848–864. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40282603.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on April 25, 2018

      Cathy N. Davidson in her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself,” describes how Equiano’s biography isn’t written in a traditional sense. She says, “His is not a Moses-like journey from slavery to freedom, but rather, an episodic and often anxious narrative meandering – from freedom to kidnapping by other Africans, from one form of African slavery into a far more barbarous enslavement by European slavers in the hold of a ship bound for Barbados, from one owner to another…” (19). Rather than displaying every detail of his entire life and every situation that happens to him, he focuses more on those few events that he says “have not happened to many.” Davidson makes the point that while his autobiography resembles 18th century novels and many the conventions of autobiographies during this time period, Equiano’s writing is still much different from others due to the anxiety and oppression of being a Black author during this time period. She says, “He uses first-person narration skillfully to evoke in readers his own sense of ever-imminent crisis” (20), which relates back to Equiano’s own description of his work. He says, “If it affords any satisfaction to my numerous friends, at whose request it has been written, or in the smallest degree promotes the interests of humanity, the ends for which it was undertaken will be fully attained.” With support from Davidson, we can see that Equiano wrote this autobiography in a similar fashion to other authors of the time period, but his writing is different due to the fact that he was a Black writer and was attempting to show the horrors of slavery.


      Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” Vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51., http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on April 25, 2018

      In the article “I Whitened My Face, That They Might Not Know Me”: Race and identity in Olaudah Equiano’s Slave Narrative, Paul Ronald examines the concept of racial assimilation and the adoption of the mask of the White to renegotiate his status in the new land where the white man dominates. He wants the readers to have a clear understanding of the personal struggle and cost of Equiano’s quest for self-fulfillment and freedom. Paul states that the slaves lived in constant neurosis because they were considered immoral, ugly, and sinful, hence the adopting of the White mask of conformity. Paul states that when Olaudah Equiano arrived in England in 1776 after his emancipation he delighted in the White man culture and was determined to imitate and resemble his former White masters in every way. Equiano states, “I no longer looked upon them as spirits, but as men superior to us; and therefore, he had the strongest desire to resemble them, to imbibe their spirit, and imitate their manners” (768). Paul argues that Equiano opted to associate himself with an African identity and was willing to adopt the White Otherness to earn the favor of his master’s society to further his political ambitions in the fight against slavery. However, Ronald Paul asserts that Equiano new the importance of fairness and justice. He believed that survival was conditional, and victory was temporary. He knew that rewards such as money, freedom, advancement and praise and anything that is good could vanish in an instant because he was black. 
      Paul, Ronald. “‘I Whitened My Face, That They Might Not Know Me’: Race and Identity in Olaudah Equiano’s Slave Narrative.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 39, no. 6, 2009, pp. 848–864. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40282603.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on April 27, 2018

      Throughout her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”, Cath N. Davidson expresses the aspects which make the text so significant. She explains the strength of emotion that is brought because the narrative is told from Equiano himself. She also expresses that the non-traditional storytelling is what makes it interesting and evokes emotion throughout. Davidson ultimately points out that, “Many aspects of the text make it significant, but especially impressive is it expansive reach” (19).  His story is told in many parts of the world and allows readers to feel this narrative from place to place based on his narrating abilities. For example, Equiano himself states “in the preceding chapter I have set before the reader a few of those many instances of oppression, extortion, and cruelty, which I have been a witness to in the West Indies”.  As readers have been taken from place to place Equiano stops to show the places he’s been and the things he’s seen. Davidson also points out the emotion-evoking tones and voice used by Equiano. Addressing the many aspects of the text Davidson writes, The text combines (in unequal parts) slave narrative, sea yarn, military adventure, ethnographic reportage, historical fiction, travelogue, picaresque saga, sentimental novel, allegory, tall tale, pastoral origins myth, gothic romance, conversion tale, and abolitionist tract, with different features coming to the fore at different times, and the mood vacillating accordingly” (20). His slave trade journey was terrible and cruel; as readers see Equiano journey from place to place they empathize with him more and begin to realize the terrible conditions in which he was under. The narrative of Equiano become more and more effective for readers because of the places Equiano takes us and the voice he uses to evoke that emotion out of readers. 
      MLA Citation:

      Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683.

  • Part I (22 comments)

    • Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 13, 2018

      This paragraph exemplifies how law can be affected by religious beliefs. Franklin explains, “but there were now great objections to our union… this could not easily be prov’d, because of the distance”. Since they cannot prove that Deborah Read’s first marriage is invalid, they cannot get married in a church, but instead have a civil ceremony. Although religion is still prominent at the time, Franklin differentiates religion and the church and that they are not mutually exclusive.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on March 15, 2018

      I find it interesting that even though church and the law are separate, their marriage was still affected. The church would not allow them to get married because there was no proof that Deborah Read’s first marriage was invalid. However, they still got married, they just were not able to marry inside a church. It is interesting that even thought the church did not want to allow them to get married, they still ended up married.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 15, 2018

      Data Visualization for Franklin.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 16, 2018

      I think this paragraph is a great example of the difference between puritanism and the growing popularity of natural philosophy and rationalism. It shows us that the differences were not just in spiritual ideals, but secular and social as well. Puritans wouldn’t have allowed their to be taught mathematics, navigation, geometry, or any science similar to these things, but Franklin sought these things out on his own. He also began reading many philosophical texts, which would have been unacceptable by the puritans. The only philosophy allowed by the puritans was what came from the Bible itself. I thought this part was just a great example of how different the cultures and education of puritans and rationalists were.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on March 17, 2018

      This passage illustrates Franklin’s Puritan upbringing. His father warns him against exploring the sea (which could be seen as declension), but Franklin also mentions his desire for it again and again. There is a strong sense of duty to religion, a strong sense of piety, but there is also presence of Individualism. Franklin wants individual success through knowledge. He is curious, and I think there is a strong undertone of Franklin’s secular rationalism in his writing.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 17, 2018

      This paragraph stuck out to me particularly because it is a prime example of the American Dream, or the Rags to Riches motif. Franklin states regarding his first entry into the city, “I was in my working Dress…I was dirty from my Journey” (NAAL 553). It’s clear when that when Franklin entered the city, he did not have a lot of money. He was ragged, tired, and it’s clear he didn’t know much about the city, since he says he “knew no Soul, nor where to look for Lodging” (NAAL 553). Franklin was not only ragged, but coming to a place he wasn’t familiar with in the hopes of finding a better life. This is a perfect example of how the American Dream begins. People come to America with nothing, hoping to gain something.

      Franklin looked so ragged that even the people on the boat didn’t want to take his money for his trip. Franklin insisted on their taking it, as he said, “A man being sometimes more generous when he but a little money than when he has plenty” (NAAL 553). Franklin points out an important message here–a man with next to nothing being generous often means more than a man with an excess of money being generous.

      It’s clear as we read on that Franklin does become more successful, which is why his story embodies the American Dream. This description of where Franklin was shows just how far he came. At this point where he described his trip, he had nothing, and yet he gains so much as he goes on. He truly embodies the American Dream and the motif of Rags to Riches.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on March 17, 2018

      [So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some sinister accidents and events of it for others more favorable.]

      This is Benjamin Franklin’s first mention of the acknowledgement of the errors or faults in his life that he will go one to point out as “Errata”, which the text has defined as, “Printer’s term for errors” (550). Franklin’s awareness of his failings throughout is very interesting to me considering how in the next paragraph Franklin invokes the notion of Providence. Later on in his text we see Franklin grapple with deism so it is very intriguing to see how both belief systems, deism and Puritanism, compel him.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on March 18, 2018

      This passage is interesting because, to me, it describes much of what we see throughout history when it comes to humanity. More specifically and pertinent to our class discussion, I would say that we can see the proof of Franklin’s words in most of the readings we have gone over this semester. When the author says, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do” the point is an easily proven one. In the two major groups we have studied, the Puritans and the Deists, it is clear how the authors of those groups are able to mold “reason” into what it is they think should be supported and upheld.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 18, 2018

      [ I found this method safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a delight in it, practis’d it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee,]

      This passage caught my attention as I feel that it really highlights the connection between self-improvement and the American Dream. Without Franklin’s determination to improve his education, he most likely wouldn’t have been as successful as we know him to be. The American Dream is about success from hard work, and though there are numerous passages where Franklin talks about improving one of his skills, the voracious nature of this specific passage truly highlights the dedication needed to achieve the Dream.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on March 19, 2018

      In this excerpt Benjamin Franklin acknowledges God’s absolute Sovereignty for his life accomplishments. He says, “And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all Humility to acknowledge, that I owe the mention’d Happiness of my past Life to his kind Providence, which led me to the Means I us’d and gave them success” (539). I find this statement humbling and somehow surprising because he was a representative figure of the Enlightenment movement. However, he still believed that men are dependent upon God. This frame of reference is credit to his Puritanical up-bringing. I got the impression that as he got older, his faith did not deviate much from the Puritan influence, as he hopes God continues blessing him in his future endeavors. He states, “In whose Power is to bless to us even our afflictions” (539). This statement reminds me of Mary Rowlandson’s Puritanical views on affliction and redemption.




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      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on March 19, 2018

      I agree. Benjamin Franklin seemed to be all over the place, exploring many different things. I think he appeared this way because of his (maybe) curious nature. Aside from him being a founding father of our country Franklin was known for is experiments (lighting and the kite) and his inventions( bifocals). To be able to think “outside the box” one needs to see and follow different beliefs than those around them. In acknowledging his failures, it let him find new ways and beliefs to guide his life.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 19, 2018

      [I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho’ it might be true, was not very useful]

      This is a very interesting and significant formulation, when you consider perspectives we’ve been studying since the start of class. First, it illustrates the enlightenment-era concept of utility as a measuring standard for value. Everything is to be judged according to its practical results in the world. Second, utility trumps truth as a standard for living–even religious truth. The traditional puritan perspective would have held that truth is everything, and that believers must reconcile their lives and behavior to it regardless of inconveniences and hardship. Franklin’s enlightenment attitude, by contrast, illustrates how forcibly materialistic conditions and destiny have assumed preeminent importance in American life. Finally, whereas Franklin is demonstrating significant enlightenment values with this statement, it is interesting to note that he is leveraging them against Deism on account of its moral deficiency, as he sees it. That moral impulse comes from his puritan upbringing, showing here a fascinating fusion of Puritanical and Enlightenment-era sensibilities.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on March 19, 2018

      This paragraph highlights the character and person of Mr. George Brownwell. Benjamin Franklin obviously thinks quite highly of him as he goes on about him for quite awhile. The way he describes him is quite poetic and is something that is worth highlighting. He talks about the constitution of his body, his stature, how he was strong and smart  and was skilled in many aspects. It honestly seems if Franklin is fawning over this other man as if he was a schoolgirl fawning over her new crush.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on March 19, 2018

      I found this paragraph to be extremely interesting, because we get to listen to Franklin talk about God and religion from a more critical point of view. In contrast with past authors we have studied and their views and responses to God, this passage seems rather aloof and impersonal. Even by saying that it was “the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favorable circumstances and situations” that kept him safe in his youth and omitting the term ‘God’ from the conversation completely, gives us a clearer picture of the changing views of God and his involvement with the world. Morals are present, but are entirely focused on the individual with no regard to other forces: “actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us”. Instead of saying that actions are good or bad because God says so, Franklin changes the tone to focus on the results those actions have on us as humans and in doing so, begins to steer the ship of his own religion straight towards deism and the view of an absentee God.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on March 19, 2018

      I like this comment because he is judging the Pope’s words in the last paragraph and is clearly doesn’t believe in his words. This would be going against his raised belief in Puritanism. It shows his individualism and confidence in himself to say something so publicly against the Pope. Although he backtracks and realizes he shouldn’t rush to judge people, he still leaves it in his writing. It shows a bit of his rationalism in this text.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on March 19, 2018

      Right from the beginning, Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography begins to construct the first and second principles of the American Dream: from rags to riches and self-realization. He rose from a state of peril that was cast upon him at birth and became enlightened and independent through his own hard work. Franklin starts his autobiography with a strong opening paragraph that establishes his firm beliefs in the American Dream and Individualism.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 19, 2018

      This part particularly stood out to me because I feel it exemplifies who Franklin was as a deist man through his upbringing. Ben wrote the “By constant labor and industry, / with God’s blessing, / They maintains a large family / comfortably” (NALA). He first praises the hard work then God. The natural philosophy of viewing God as a clock maker is seen in the statement. God blessed them for their hard work, Franklin notes, but it was their hard work and “industry” that made them so successful. Franklin also describes his father as “Pious and prudent”. To me this means that he was a vastly religious man, but did not think much about the future because God’s plan was going to happen not matter what, and he would be okay with those outcomes. Due to this upbringing I believe Franklin was able to sell his idea of the American Dream even more. He too believed that God had created this world and the machines in them and it would only benefit the people.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on March 19, 2018

      I find this passage interesting because it is unclear whether Franklin actually believed that women were equal in terms of “their abilities for study” or if he merely took this stance to be part of “dispute’s sake”. I personally like to think that Franklin was a believer in education for women, and his witty writing style seems to come out here as he only says, “perhaps a little for dispute’s sake”. I believe that he is somewhat messing with his readers during this section. The way he phrases this sentence, using the word perhaps as if he is unclear why he chose this opinion to argue, as well as saying a little, which kind of confirms that at least part of him truly believes that women are capable of study and education. It is also interesting how the writing and articulation here seems to be the focus rather than the argument itself.

      Comment by Erin McManis on March 20, 2018

      I agree. It starts off as a letter to his son and constructs his ideas of what America was supposed to become. Immigrants came to america to escape poverty and persecution. This is what caused the English to come to America back when “the pilgrims” landed here. It is great to know that his ideals are what America came to be.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on March 20, 2018

      I agree with your points, it is surprising to see him thank god and introduce the idea that Humanity is in debt or should praise God. It is a surprising gesture because he was a bog part of the enlighten movement. The acknowledgment of God isn’t contradictory but it does come as a surprise because of the shift from religious based ideology to more of a scientific ideology that led to people believing in science and not so much religion.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on March 20, 2018

      This paragraph was of interest to me because of the various references to title and position. It is clear in this time period title and position really play a large part in the respect and development of a person. It shows how important it is for a man to have respect for his craft and hone his skills, and due to fewer people present it is clear how important family names are as well. This is in contrast to Puritan times in which a person’s spiritual position was more important than their craft or professional position or family title.

      Comment by Erin McManis on April 27, 2018

      Forde notes that Benjamin Franklin has had many critics that say Franklin was morally shallow and self-serving. He feels that while Franklin’s autobiography was written in part to provide a model for democratic culture, he still feels that it also provides moral teaching. If one pays closer attention to the text, they will reveal a subtle and multilayered moral teaching, that most people miss. As America was a newly emerging nation with a unique culture he presented his autobiography to appeal to the most varied and wide audience, and this autobiography was meant to elevate them in a way that most benefited them. He even mentions that Franklin took on the subject of religion. “This does not mean that Franklin is pushing his readers to irreligion, however; for another of the key lessons of the Autobiography is that religion can and should be reasonable. Franklin pointedly approves of the Dunkers, a sect that refused to publish its doctrines, on the grounds that they might later have to be changed.” (365) Forde notes in his conclusion that the autobiography is not a biography in the rigorous sense but an effort to shape America like he made himself-combining virtue and prosperity while contributing to society with benevolence and charm.
      Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, 

  • John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity (22 comments)

    • Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 14, 2018

      This paragraph was interesting to me because of how love among Christians is framed. From what I understood of this reading, Winthrop is advocating for love among all Christians, love for your neighbors and your enemies, and love even for those who have sinned. However, throughout the rest of the reading, there are several examples, including Mrs. Hutchinson, where differences in opinion led to her being banished and excommunicated from the church. Mrs. Hutchinson was still a Christian, but due to her different opinion about this church, she was an exile in the community. This directly contradicts the teachings in this paragraph, especially where “love among Christians” ties in.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 15, 2018

      Data Visualization for Winthrop’s Model of Christian Charity.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 15, 2018

      I feel as though there is a lot of ‘American Exceptionalism’ in this sermon, especially when Winthrop is explaining how there are different types of men: rich, poor, high in power and dignity, and mean and in submission. His first reason is that men are God’s stewards and will distribute God’s gifts to each other. This gives me the impression that those traveling to America were the men that were ‘higher’ up and who were responsible for dispersing their gifts (that God had given them) to those who are living in America or the Native Americans.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on January 15, 2018

      I have to say i completely agree with what you are pointing out about how it contradicts the teaching, or preaching for that matter, of the loving everyone. Earlier in the reading Winthrop mentions the two rules being Justice and Mercy. Where was the mercy for Mrs. Hutchinson? Did they community forget compassion and mercy all together and just jump straight to justice all over a matter in difference of opinion? What happened to “do good to all”?

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on January 15, 2018

      This section stood out to me particularly because you can see that the true message of the Christian faith and the purpose of evangelism stemmed from an honest concern for those who didn’t believe it – much like anyone else today would earnestly try to convince someone of an idea that they believe is true. “All are to be considered as friends in the state of innocency…” It is sad to see the honesty of this message so easily compromised by power-hungry and controlling authorities at this time, which turned something that could have been peaceful and just into a subversion of the truth which resulted in so much pain, bloodshed and horrendous injustice. I wonder what would have changed in the settling of America if true Christian ideals and values had actually been put into practice instead of hypocritically claimed and subsequently ignored.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 16, 2018

      This paragraph goes along with our class discussion about John Smith’s writings that pertain to Biblical scripture and the “golden rule.” Do unto others as you would want to be done on yourself. Also, to work hard and to see good for your hard work. This plays into the idea of promise and prosperity, a fresh beginning and a new start in this “New World.” The hopes of bringing godliness and moral standards along with the Bible are hindered by human imperfection and greed. The law of nature and grace is another example of hopeful prosperity and a chance for a new “garden of Eden” away from the sins of Europe. They refer to Abraham and Lot, both men who took up their sinful home to live away from the comforts in order to do God’s will. The end of the paragraph, though, seemingly backtracks on this idea by referring to the Christian faith making a difference between Christians and non-Christians, seemingly going against the ideals that all men are equal.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 16, 2018

      This paragraph really stood out to me as rather touching. If I’m interpreting it correctly, this paragraph is saying a Christian must be generous and selfless. They say that “…a christian must sell all and give to the poor” and that if a christian brother is in distress, “we must help him beyond our ability…” It seems that as a congregation, the church stands together. They seem to help one another out in times of need, or to provide a support system for those in need of it most. It’s cool to see how that hasn’t changed through all the years. Most congregations today still serve as a support system for individuals in distressed situations. When I think of the English, their sense of entitlement often vexes me, but it was nice to see here that their intentions toward others were good, and that they ultimately strived to help those who needed it.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 16, 2018

      [but if wee shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends wee have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnall intentions, seeking greate things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely breake out in wrathe against us; be revenged of such a [sinful] people and make us knowe the price of the breache of such a covenant.]

      I understand that religion was of high importance during this time. I understand that this is a sermon that was meant to be read aloud and inspire the audience to remain a servant of God, and the end goal was religious success (pertaining to the Non-Conformist ideals) in New England. I also see something here that I still see today: fear as motivation. Winthrop is discussing love, loyalty, brotherhood and community through the entirety of this sermon; and now he uses fear to instill those values onto his audience.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on January 16, 2018

      I agree with your interpretation, It does seem as if the passage is actively voicing that as Christians they must give back to the poor. There comes a time for them to be a helping hand and give all they have to better the other. I also feel as if Winthrop take a small jab at those “Christians” who aren’t too fond of the idea of giving back as he notes,”There is a time allsoe when christians (though they give not all yet) must give beyond their abillity, ” The idea behind this is very inspiration but I can’t help but think many others didn’t see it his way hence the conflict between setters and the conflict between religions later on in Americas early years. 

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 17, 2018

      [For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are uppon us.]

      This passage heavily features American exceptionalism. By mentioning that they will be a “city upon a hill”, Winthrop has placed himself and his group above all others. Further down, he mentions that they have undertaken God’s work in this New World. This to me means that Winthrop has declared that the mission of his group is one that must be delivered in order to better the “savages” and other settlers in the New World. Through his words he has elevated the status and importance of the purpose of his voyage to Massachusetts Bay.

      Comment by Erin McManis on January 17, 2018

      I agree with your point on this and I think that it is evident in the reasons why they came to America. To them they are the chosen ones by God. I think it is interesting to see their views on their religion and their place in it.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on January 17, 2018


      I agree with your thoughts on this part. The importance of the entire piece is to stress charity, (hence the title). I find that the piece becomes even more profound when it gives the examples in the bible. For those that were firm believes in this gospel would have found it even more outstanding because it gave them textual examples of the people they followed and knew of.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 17, 2018

      I think you make an excellent point here, and I have to say that I agree fully with your comment. As is the case in many forms of organized religion, these all encompassing statements such as “That which the most in theire churches mainetaine as truthe in profession onely, wee must bring into familiar and constant pactise; as in this duty of loue, wee must loue brotherly without dissimulation, wee must loue one another with a pure hearte fervently” are undercut with these fear inducing motivators that do little to reinforce the messages of love. Instead of encouraging a sense of community and togetherness, sermon’s like Winthrop’s tend to breed doubt and mistrust within the targeted spiritual group. From fear of God’s reprisal due to their “brethren’s” lack of piety, constancy etc. an unhealthy dynamic forms and does more harm than good.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on January 17, 2018

      I agree with you about this passage. He does place himself and the group above others. I also agree with you whole heartedly that when he mentions that they have undertaken God’s work in the New World, he is saying that they must help the “savages” and the other settlers of the New World become better.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 17, 2018

      When reading through this  I got kind of upset. As stated in the fourth paragraph some must be rich, some poor etc. However, this paragraph is saying that the rich can’t “eate upp on the poor”, which I took for taking advantage of the poor and their issues to further their own power. This part is fine, the next part, however, says “nor the poore and dispised rise upp against and shake off theire yoake.” This part upset me, personally I saw it as the poor must stay poor to keep things in line, and how god attended. Saying the poor must only be obedient to the ones in power as in the “grate ones”.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 17, 2018

      Actually historians disagree about the meaning of the “city upon a hill” reference.  It is indeed easily associated with American exceptionalism, and its invocation in political and cultural utterances to this day typically involve appeals to claims regarding a unique mission and status occupied by the United States. But looking closely at the passage, we see content suggesting that Winthrop is perhaps more concerned about the consequences of failure than about the perceived eminence of the colony at that point in time. “All eyes are upon us,” he says, and our failure will discredit not only ourselves but our beliefs and and our doctrines. In this sense, the message is not “Look at how great we are.” It’s “Don’t screw this up!”

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 17, 2018

      Reading this paragraph makes me think of today’s relationships. This passage continuously refers to how those who birth must love those they birthed, how they care, and would do anything for them because they resemble each other. They protect their own and are happy to see them grow, find joy being near them. This make me think about how now mothers and fathers ignore their children and neglect them for their own selfish reasons. Are annoyed as their children grow. An opposite to what was told in this paragraph.

      This paragraph also makes me think about friendships. One little thing can cause the formation of a deep friendship. In these friendships a friend might be willing to do any and everything for their close friend. Often our closest friends are not welcomed by our families, just as Jonathan’s father did not welcome David. Some friendships prevail over familiar ties.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 17, 2018

      [When he gave Saule a commission to destroy Amaleck, Hee indented with him upon certain articles, and because hee failed in one of the least, and that upon a faire pretense, it lost him the kingdom, which should have beene his reward, if hee had observed his commission.]

      This section presents a different idea from the one we’ve been discussing in class, the idea of Divine Sponsorship. Where before we were reading accounts that show the beginning beliefs that God was rewarding the colonists or at least favored them over the natives, we now get an idea of God only rewarding if the the faith of the person is, more or less, enough. And that reward has fairly heavy conditions set upon it as well as very strict observance of the rules as determined by the Scripture. Or at least someone’s interpretation of the Scripture.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 17, 2018

      Following a detailed sermon that promotes love and charity, Winthrop transitions to language of “commission” and “strict performance”, where performing the duties prescribed to them comes with reward, but failing to perform will bring a “wrath against” them. This may address the question, “so what?” for those who need more motivation than being a blessed servant, with ultimate love as a compass, to follow the path that Winthrop implores them to take. Claiming that God is a jealous God is also used here, a concept that certainly persists today, where setting up altars leads to judgement and destruction. It seems that Winthrop attempts to use fear tactics to instill how important following scripture is for the prosperity of the individual and more to the whole of the community in its success in religious pursuit.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on January 17, 2018

      This is pretty interesting that historians disagree about the “city upon a hill” section. I remember first learning about this text in the 200 level American literature classes, but I can’t remember what interpretation of this paragraph was taught. I see this section less as an American exceptionalism type thing (although it has probably had an influence on what would eventually become the United States) and more as a plea to not “… screw this up!” as you said. I think the odd comparison I would make with this line is to the eventual settlement of humans on other planets. I could imagine a speech like this being used to help the settlers to be inspired, mostly because the failure of my hypothetical settlement on other planets, and the failure of the group in the text, would lead to problems for the betterment of the whole of the respective civilizations.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 17, 2018

      Jessica, you make many excellent points about this paragraph, specifically in regard to their hopes and plans for the New World. I was particularly drawn to Winthrop’s statement that “all men being thus (by divine providence) ranked into two sorts, rich and poor” (207). He doesn’t necessarily believe that all men are equal; he believes that all men are created the way God intended them for the common good. All men should be treated with mercy and assistance per God’s instruction for people to love their enemies. This again refers to the golden rule: treat others how you wish to be treated. So, even though they drew a distinction between Christians and non-Christians, they still believed that non-Christians needed to be treated with courtesy.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on January 18, 2018

      Mikaela, I felt the same way when I read this passage. These values that the passage speaks to should have been followed. History has shown that power has overcome any type of moral grounds and led to horrendous events. Although Christian’s in these days claim to follow the bible and listen to the word of God, it is evident that they did not love their enemies but made them as slaves or killed them to make room for their own people. Your final comment has me thinking too, it is an interesting thing to ponder on.

  • William Bradford, from <i>Of Plymouth Plantation</i> (21 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 10, 2018

      Data Visualization for Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 11, 2018

      I thought this paragraph was really interesting because Bradford attributes the finding of the seeds for corn and beans to divine sponsorship from God, but in reality, the colonists just followed the Native Americans and stumbled upon the Native’s food supply. The seeds didn’t magically appear on the ground for the colonists due to God’s support, but the colonists just took these supplies from the Native Americans. Even though it says that they meant to “give them full satisfaction” for the corn and beans when they were harvested, I still found it interesting that their vision of superiority to the Native Americans led them to stealing supplies. It also made me think about conceptions about the first Thanksgiving and the idea that Native Americans gave the colonists food and supplies, when the colonists actually took these from the Native Americans when they first arrived in Plymouth.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 12, 2018

      I had a harder time understanding this text. However, I believe this paragraph is exploring how there was a lot of strife in Europe, particularly England. Because of this, many decided to travel to what would be America. On the other hand, it mentions that some would rather be in prison in England rather than go to Holland to escape religious persecution or head to the Americas and endure the hardships they would find there. This makes me wonder why some would travel across seas to escape the hardships in England, when many others were traveling to Holland to escape the same hardships in England.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 13, 2018

      Reading this paragraph makes me curious as to how the beliefs and practices of Christianity then differ from the beliefs and practices of Christianity now. Here, it seems like they believe God condoned the killing of the Indians, as it says, “Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enemies, and give them deliverance…” (Paragraph 35). In Paragraph 17 as well, it almost seems as if God is condoning death. In this paragraph, Bradford introduces a young seaman man who is “…proud & very profane…” They then say that, “…it plased God before they came halfe seas over, to smite this yong man with a greeveous disease, of which he dyed in a desperate manner and so it was him selfe ye first yt was throwne overboard” (Paragraph 17). It’s ironic, yes that this young man was the first to be thrown overboard when he “hoped to help to cast halfe of them overboard before they cam eto their jurneys end…” (Paragraph 17) but it seems strange to me that God was pleased by this young mans death, just as he is pleased in this paragraph to vanquish his enemies. In Christianity today, it is the belief that God does not seek to punish for sins, but rather is merciful and forgiving of those who have sinned, where here, it seems to me that God is pleased to punish those who have sinned or those who are not Christians. Seeing these beliefs in here makes me curious as to what other differences there are between modern Christianity and Christianity then.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on January 13, 2018

      [ It is recorded in scripture as a mercie to ye apostle & his shipwraked company, yt the barbarians shewed them no smale kindnes in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they mette with them (as after will appeare) were readier to fill their sids full of arrows then otherwise. ]

      Truthfully I question the validity and truthfulness of Bradford’s claim here and I can elaborate as to why. As described in the handout, the Puritans believed in a cyclical nature of events. In reference to this specific passage a footnote of our texts refers to the biblical passage Acts 28.1-2 of men landing on the island of Melita only to be met with hostility. So I counter here that if the Puritans were so reliant on focusing on the repetitive nature of biblical events then it is very well possible that this perceived hostility of the Native American’s was just that, a mere perception as opposed to a real threat. In connection with this passage and the following excerpts I also thought, “wait, what about the supposed Thanksgiving feast that we learned so much about”.

      Either way the point I am trying to make in this post is to expose how the Puritan typological belief system could have worked as more of a hindrance than a benefit when it came to forging relationships with the Native Americans.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 14, 2018

      Having read both this piece and Morton’s account of the events before, I find it just as interesting as I did before how different the perspectives are. This works as a perfect example of what happens when one party has the power and technology to pass down written texts. In Morton’s case he is able to offer rebuttal to Bradford’s claims. Whereas, with the indigenous people of the region, written documentation wasn’t a practiced mode of record keeping. Which means people of European decent in Bradford’s time and later were forced, or more likely, to rely on the man’s account of how things had transpired. Making the saying that the victors write the history books that much more troubling to consider.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 14, 2018

      I also struggled to understand the text, but I agree. I believe the text has a lot to do with escaping hardships as a whole. Whether it be the hardships of England, Holland, or what would be America. From what I took away the governours are trying to “foresee ye future” and by doing so are urging people to travel. Perhaps due to lack of food or something of sorts. And in hopes with people traveling to Holland and what will be America will be able to survive and help Englands remaining people survive with fewer hardships. As you stated many would rather be locked up in England than risk religious persecution in Holland. At the end it says “their pastor would often say, that many of those wo both wrate & preached now against them if they were in a place wher they might libertie and live comfortably, they would then practise as they did”. This makes me believe the people who did travel to Holland were hiding their religion while the ones traveling to would be America would once again practice their faith because nobody would stop or question them in the new land.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 14, 2018

      This paragraph really strikes home how important the Bible and the word of God was to the colonists. They really felt that by sharing the world of God, converting the Native Americans, and that it was God’s will. They are showing what, in their minds, is love and forgiveness by being forgiving of what to them was a “sinful” or “evil” choice in life, as they bring out, and that through God’s will they can share Bible truths and gain the favor of God. The Native Americans too had higher powers that they looked up to, and so between the two beliefs it is easy to see how myths or confusion could develop regarding each perspective groups’ belief in their perspective higher powers of belief.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on January 15, 2018

      I interpreted this in a similar way, it does appear that God is condoning their actions of killing. That raises a question in my head, If they couldn’t convert the Natives to their religion was the only answer to kill them? Was thats gods plan for these people and did they truly believe that they were doing his work in that mannor? Te comparison made between Christianity as talked about in this essay and christianity as it is viewed in modern day was very insightful as I to agree with the comparison that was made.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 15, 2018

      After reading Bradford’s accounts of certain events compared to Morton’s accounts of the same events, it’s very clear that history is often skewed to reflect well upon the people writing it. This understanding makes me consider what the Native Americans’ history would have looked like had they written it down. Bradford often depicts the Native Americans in a poor light, leaving me to wonder how much truth there is to his portrayal of them.

      In this instance during the Pequot War, Bradford offers a few motives for why the Narragansett Indians stopped helping the English; all of these motives imply that the Narragansett were greedy and wanted the victory for themselves. Was this the real reason they stopped helping the English or was it possible their motive was less selfish? Maybe they were appalled at the brutality of the English towards the Pequots and simply didn’t want to help them inflict more damage on these people?

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on January 15, 2018

      I agree with your statement here. They truly believed it was their duty to spread Christianity with the natives and use their higher knowledge and power to enforce it upon them. They disregard that the Native Americans are content with their lives and own beliefs and try to convert them to how they believe is the right way to live.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 15, 2018

      You make a good point Denise. Your comment on Thanksgiving reminded me about the section that Bradford writes about the first Thanksgiving. There is no mention of the natives other than when he mentions “Indian corn” (pg. 154). I would think that this would be the time to mention how the natives and the settlers could get along without strife, especially because the unity between the two groups is something that is commonly known to us. I wonder if Bradford just thought it wasn’t important to mention, or if he didn’t want people to know that they could all get along.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 15, 2018

      This paragraph is quite full of important themes and motifs from the reading guide. Notice it is a direct appeal to the second and third generations removed from the original colonists (“May not & ought not the children . . .”)–an admonition that their children and grandchildren should revere their example and attempt to emulate their holiness of purpose. He’s also quoting from the ordeals of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and he is engaging in the Puritan historiographical process of typology.  Notions of Absolute Sovereignty and Providence also inform the paragraph. Owing to their concept of innate human depravity and original sin, the Puritans considered themselves to be completely dependent for their well-being in this world–and for their prospects of salvation in the next–on God’s direct involvement with his creation.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 15, 2018

      I had some trouble with this text. Going from the sense of religion one could see this paragraph about the trails God gives his followers. Whether to see if they are worthy or if they are true believers who will stick with their god through everything. In keeping their faith, God answered their prays and gave them the tools or the way they need to fix things. At the will of God they were allowed to overcome and proceed.

      Comment by Erin McManis on January 15, 2018

      I agree that they believed it was their duty to spread the word of Christianity. Even though the native americans had their own religion they were content and happy with, their duty as a christian would be to “enlighten” them to the truth of God and the bible. They were chosen by the lord to have a zeal for the lord and spread, as the author sees it.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 15, 2018

      I disagree with your comment that the natives and the settlers got along without strife. To be fair not all of their encounters resulted in death and, in some instances, there was actually a positive interaction. While it is commonly taught that the first Thanksgiving was a joint effort at bringing together the natives and the settlers, this text very blatantly shows that to be a false idea. Someone mentioned in a previous comment something along the lines of “those who actually wrote about historical events (as opposed to telling) might have had a larger influence in how those events were portrayed and that portrayal can clearly differ greatly from the actuality of the event itself”. I’m paraphrasing, but I hope you get where I’m going with this.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 15, 2018

      I actually wrote some notes about this as I was reading it. I find his interpretation of how they acquired the corn and seeds to be indicative of that superiority you mention. I also kept thinking about the lecture from last week and the idea of ‘Divine Sponsorship’ and its constant presence in this writing. Bradford clearly felt that though God had put them through a series of trying experiences, they were now being rewarded for their faith and effort.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 15, 2018

      This whole section stands out to me for reasons other than its center topic: bestiality. Here, Bradford is trying to find reasoning as to how someone who is a part of the New England community could commit bestiality. To me, Bradford is suggesting that one fault is that of greed. The main idea throughout Of Plymouth Plantation, is that to survive in New England, one must remain faithful. So here, when New England’s people are committing such sin, there has to be a reason. That reason stems from greed, which is shown by Bradford to be an non-Christian value. I’d also like to point out the use of the word “unworthy”, for the boy who committed bestiality was also a servant. I wonder if there is a connection there.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on January 15, 2018

      I agree with you that Bradford’s account of these events are skewed due to his own personal experiences and background during the time period. It is important to keep this in mind while reading through the text. The example that you bring up here is pretty good, and I have another strong example of Bradford’s questionable “truths”. In paragraph sixty six Bradford discusses the imprisonment of someone by the Native Americans. He either tries intentionally to make the Native Americans look bad by saying they did not free the man even though he kept with their deal and did all that they wanted or it was a mistake on Bradford’s part. It is likely that this man told his story to Bradford and lied to him, which in tern caused Bradford to bring this false information to the reader. It is also important to say that it is possible that the Native Americans did do this, but judging by the way Bradford discusses them through the rest of the text I am unsure how likely this is.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 15, 2018

      At this paragraph, I realized that it was not only the themes of the bible that permeated the text, but the way it is written mimics the cadence of the bible, especially within the much referenced Deuteronomy. I had to look to Deuteronomy to recall what it entailed, and it seems that the plights of Moses and his people are told as a story with many prescriptions of how to be a servant of God. It seems that Bradford utilizes this style (though, with less prescription) to tell the story of the people of the Mayflower and the following events of colonization to demonstrate a past that was formative, like Moses and his people, and necessary to remember if you are to stay the way of piety. See especially pg. 168 for a direct reference to Moses, for an example. I would assume that Bradford enacts a biblical style to demonstrate for the people who have swayed from Puritan ways, how past generations have formed the world they now live in.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on January 15, 2018

      This paragraph is one of many that highlights the early English spelling but also offers us much more. This paragraph tells us the trials they went through to get to the new land. Over the furious ocean amidst all their hardships, once they landed on solid ground everything was “affirmed” and made itself clear that this is where they were meant to thrive.

  • Thomas Paine, from <i>The Age of Reason</i> (20 comments)

    • Comment by Erin McManis on March 1, 2018

      I think that this is interesting because before during the puritan writings, they hold themselves above everyone else and they are the elect few who will inheret heaven. Paine says he believes in one god and that his religious duties consists of being loving and trying to make his fellow creatures happy. It is a refreshing change from the puritan thought, and I can see the shift in thinking.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 1, 2018

      I liked this paragraph in particular. It focuses on individual sovereignty and we see it transition away from absolute sovereignty. This paragraph, although short, gives the idea that people are capable and responsible for thinking and reasoning about not only themselves but others around them, to “make our fellow-creatures happy”. I think rationalism is also apparent in this paragraph. We see that justice begins to play a stronger role in society.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 1, 2018

      This paragraph particularly interested me because it’s so different from the Puritan ideology that we are familiar with. In previous readings, we’ve found that many Puritans follow the Bible extremely closely. Here, Paine is quite literally questioning the Son of God. He states that, “…such a circumstances required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for this, but we have not even this; for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves” (NAAL 720). The fact that Paine is quite literally saying that he doesn’t quite know if he believes that the Virgin Mary was truly a virgin is not a radical idea but an idea that would even offend or shock Christians today. As the title implies, Paine is, of course, basing his ideas and writing off reason, but he admits that he is doubtful of many Christian ideals simply because he cannot find concrete evidence that they happened. This is a more than radical concept. Paine doubting religion is something that we haven’t seen in this American literature, so it was interesting to read about.

      Comment by Ries Cope on March 2, 2018

      This passage really grabbed me because it is completely opposite than most of our other readings. He is saying that his mind is his church. I take that as he puts all of his faith into himself rather than into a higher power. Saying “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of.” This is a big statement that many people would have seen threating to religion.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 4, 2018

      I think that Paine’s choice of words in this passage is very poor. Even in a time of growing rationalism, to say that churches established themselves “by pretending some special mission from God” (721), was a dangerous move simply because religion was still very dear to many. By practically accusing the church of deceiving people through the idea that revelation can only be given to “certain individuals” (721), Paine basically ostracized himself from France, England, and America because of his insensitive approach to a delicate topic.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on March 4, 2018

      I can still remember the first time I read Thomas Paine (not that it was too terribly long ago) and how wonderfully conflicted it made me then as it makes me now. This passage perfectly captures the reasons as to why Paine’s words are always bittersweet for me. When he says “It is as if he (God) had said to the inhabitants” and goes on to make a kind of quote from God that melds the two worlds of religion and science, it strikes me that Paine is sort of like the flip-side version of Jonathan Edwards. But whereas Edwards was trying to further Puritan ideals, Paine is doing the same for Natural Philosophy. At its heart, each man’s belief system is a message of taking care of their fellow man, “TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER”. What irritated me the first time I read Paine’s words is no less true for this go around – that even though each side of a religious debate might be that overall we treat one another with love and respect, it doesn’t seem to prevail as often as it should.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on March 4, 2018

      I agree with you, while we read the puritan writings it felt as if they did hold themselves to higher standards and almost in a snobby tone spoke down to those who didn’t live life in the sam manner they did. I enjoy reading this and the humbled tone of a man stating his opinion and not forcing his belief but merely stating it and applying a relevance to the audience. most humans would like to believe they want o life a life where they put the good of other before themselves as well as the good fo this earth.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on March 5, 2018

      When doing my first reading of this entire section, I somehow missed or skimmed the third paragraph wherein Paine asserts that natural philosophy is the “true theology” but I noticed the recurring theme as I continued and made notes. What specifically stood out is Paine’s use of everyday language/imagery/tools that would be easily recognized by his audience, as evidenced in this particular paragraph, and it reminded me strongly of Edward Taylor’s writings. While I don’t understand the concepts exactly, I understand implicitly what he is expressing; that though man may develop or utilize tools to gain understanding it is still God who ultimately designed it. His argument that everything is circular, or as he says “triangular”, is also familiar for it is reminiscent of the Puritanical reflex (also a circular way of understanding) but also brings to mind modern day ideologies of interconnectedness.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on March 5, 2018

      Thomas Paine ideas are indeed very different from what I have learned in previous Puritan readings. One of the ideas that caught my attention is the fact that he talks about the concept of Deism as he professes that “his mind is his own church”. Also, he believes that religious institutions are mere human inventions for the whole purpose to “terrify and enslave mankind” He believes in a higher power. However, he questions traditional organized religious ideology and claims that he does not condemn others for doing so. He states, “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit” (719). He does not feel the need for church association instead he believes that people have the power to make their own decisions to improve their lives through human reason and rationality as essential in everyday life.




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      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 5, 2018

      This part of the reading really stuck out to me because of the final sentence “My own mind is my own church”. This part stood out because it is so vastly different from the puritan readings we have read so far. All the writings on spirituality and religion during this time period seem to follow strict guidelines that exemplify God and his absolute sovereignty over man. This snippet shows more individual and original thought, which is a refreshing break from the scripted responses to God that the puritan religion embodies. Here, instead of saying what he perceives God might want him to say, he expresses his own spirituality and thoughts claiming them to be the truth. I like that he doesn’t try to shove his beliefs down others throats, he is just simply expressing himself and his real thoughts.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on March 5, 2018

      I like how after “dissing” religion in the previous paragraph Paine tries to be politically correct by saying that he’s not trying to be rude to those who are religious. He tries to make his last comment better by explaining why he thinks churches are an invention to enslave humankind.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on March 5, 2018

      I took the most away from this particular paragraph because Paine is invoking the idea that God is only the creator of Earth; God doesn’t interfere with human affairs, and he doesn’t control the knowledge the individual gains. It is up to the individual to learn, and to “be kind to each other”. I do also find it interesting (especially with the previous conversation in class that posed the question: is the root of religion present in all things?) that Paine feels like he must “be kind”. He is still trying to do good by others, and himself. There is a shift among piety that his taking place here  instead of piety that is rooted in religion, it is now piety that is rooted in country and people involved in country. This passage is very relevant to today: we are all in control of ourselves, and in most cases, kindness is held at a value that religious piety was in previous readings.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on March 5, 2018

      I completely agree with you. It also caught my attention for that reason. It is interesting to see the stark difference between what we have been reading and what this is saying. He has a personal tie to God, instead of going through the church. This is completely different than what puritans thought.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on March 5, 2018

      I kind of disagree with your statement that Paine’s choice of words is poor. I think the claim Paine makes in this passage, “Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God” is a clearly bold claim, but it seems that his choice of words isn’t really the problem. My interpretation of this passage is that Paine sees the focus and reasoning of these churches and religions to be faulty. The idolization of certain individuals leads to problems between these religions and churches. I understand your point, but I’m not sure that Paine’s choice of words was poor. Paine has many bold claims throughout this piece, and to act like his claims are less valid because they are dangerous and personally ostracizing seems to miss the point of the text in general.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on March 5, 2018

      [Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.]

      This reading is an appropriate segue from the Puritanical sermons of Edwards towards the works of Jefferson. Here Paine offers the most grounded perception of God that we have read to date. Paine agrees with and recognizes the power and influence of the Puritan God, who’s absolute sovereignty controls everything, and balances that with the rationalizations of natural philosophy. Paine here agrees with the newfound sciences of Newton’s such as gravity as he goes on to mention, but presents the ideas and concepts of science as having been created by God himself. Through Paine’s eyes the laws of science were created by God and our understand of them comes through the powers of understanding that have been bestowed upon us by God only.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on March 5, 2018

      I believe that Paine makes some points and gives reason to why religion is unrealistic. However, he doesn’t seem to have any hard evidence about religion not being real. He doesn’t use strong language nor makes a convincing argument. It seems more like spouting off his own opinion in hopes of other people with just take his word for it. He uses this example, saying they all got the word of God from different sources to sway people away from the Word of God.  These sources seem to overlap; Moses, divine inspiration and an angel can all be true. This piece is very different from the others we have read in class.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on March 5, 2018

      Out of the many paragraphs in this narrative, this one seemed to grab my attention on my initial read-through. It mentions the term “mythology” quite a bit but in relation to the story of Jesus Christ. Usually when religious stories are talked about in a religious setting, they are not talked about as “myths” but as true events that happened. I grew up in a very religious setting so I am able to say I understand this first hand. In this paragraph, It explains the story and the mythology behind it giving way to the understanding that is how it came to be but is a much different story than one usually hears in a religious setting. This paragraph allows readers to understand this version of the mythology and the one that is taught in church’s by people of faith. Which is the true version, one may never know.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on March 6, 2018

      I like that you point out that this paragraph shows people are more or less capable of thinking and feeling for themselves. I see it as out of the goodness of their own hearts and not just to try to be ion Gods grace. It expresses that religions duties go beyond worship and praise and trying to become one of the elect. Everything about this concept of other duties is relieving to read of the tones and attitudes of the other reading in the class. Later he talks about his mind being his church and i love that because it expresses his own self evaluations and thoughts on his religion rather than just conforming and following the crowd as well as taking his beliefs and discrediting anyone who believed any different from him.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 6, 2018

      Good points, Paige. Rationalism, deism, individual sovereignty are all playing significant roles in this passage. The right to believe things based on one’s own individual experience is basic to the new conceptions of of the human condition that we see here and in Jefferson’s draft for the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, Paine is here not just making a rationalist argument but consciously modeling rational inquiry, thinking and writing very straightforwardly with sequential logic that exemplifies an approach to truth. The theme of entitlement here–to one’s own opinions–is repeated rhetorically in other paragraphs such as para 20 below, where Paine strategically concludes his statements with an assertion of the self and of individual rights.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 15, 2018

      Data Visualization for Paine.

  • Judith Sargent Murray, "On the Equality of the Sexes" (20 comments)

    • Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 8, 2018

      I enjoyed how Murray’s reading begins with a poem. It is apparent that she recognizes the difference between men and women, “that minds are not alike, full well I know,” yet she also recognizes the equality between men and women despite their differences. She continues to point out the inequality, “who this distinction to the sex ascribe,/ as if a woman’s form must needs enrol,/ a weak, a servile, an inferiour soul”. Despite the inequality women are facing, Murray acknowledges the importance women have and the creativity they show, although they may show it in different ways than men.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 8, 2018

      This paragraph to me is especially prevalent, and can even be related to today. Murray makes the point that inequalities start from a young age when education and advantages are given to men rather than to women. She brings up the idea of equal intelligence between the sexes when she asks, “Will it be said that the judgment of a male of two years old, is more sage than that of a female’s of the same age?” This line shows us that it isn’t the intelligence of women that is sub-par, but the opportunities and education given to them are lacking instead. Due to this lack of opportunity, Murray goes on to say that women are “confined and limitted” and are domesticated throughout their lives while men are “led by the hand through all the flowery paths of science.” She makes a comment on the fact that many women become unhappy due to their domestication. “At length arrived at womanhood, the uncultivated fair one feels a voice, which the employments allotted her are by no means capable of filling. What can she do? to books she may not apply; or if she doth, to those only of the novel kind…” This description of hobbies and interests available to women shows just how limited and confined they were in all aspects of their life during this time. Overall, I think this piece by Murray does an excellent job of debunking some of the stereotypes given to women about being uneducated and partaking in trivial hobbies.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on March 10, 2018

      [Nay, we have even more leisure for sedentary pleasures, as our avocations are more retired, much less laborious, and, as hath been observed, by no means require that avidity of attention which is proper to the employments of the other sex. ]

      This section of Judith Sargent Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes”, is crucial to understand Murray’s motives. Here, she is arguing that if women are given the same academic opportunities as men, they will still fulfill their “duties”. There is a chance, that they will do said duties better than they would without education. The quote above is significant because Murray is using the other’s strengths to manipulate her audience. She is painting women’s duties as easy, less time consuming. Therefore, she is attempting to prove the need for women’s education. I’ve seen it in other first wave feminist’s writings: the idea of appeasing the sex in power, to gain power. I don’t believe that Murray believes her duties are inferior to the other’s duties. But, in order to gain education for women, she has to be careful how she portrays women. The proposed change has to seem minimal; women will still fit into the roles society has placed upon them.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on March 13, 2018

      What a powerful piece! This initial poem is captivating and raw, and I would assume would be shocking at the time. What bravery she showed, “invention is perhaps the most arduous effort of the mind” shows how much courage it took for her to channel her mind about the inequities between the sexes in her writing. It is interesting how she muses already on the repercussions on her choice to write this, “perhaps I will be asked” showing how risky and adventurous or even dangerous her move is to write these statements. She knows that it may hurt her reputation or at the very least cause some to treat her differently yet she still chooses to write the piece, channeling injustices for those without a voice and paving the way for future writers and activists.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 13, 2018

      I thought it was really cool and different that Murray chose to begin her writing with a poem before going into prose. It’s definitely a great opening to her prose. Poems leave more interpretation to the reader, while prose is usually more straightforward. For example, when Murray opens the poem with, “That minds are not alike, full well I know,/This truth each day’s experience will show;” (NAAL 783), Murray is acknowledging that the minds of the male and female are different, however, she hasn’t placed one above the other, or made her claim that they should be equal. Based on the previous readings of this course, I don’t think that equality of the sexes was a popular idea–in most other readings, it seems that men believe women to be fragile, and need to stay and do the housework. I imagine that Murray’s claim was a new and widely contested idea, which is why I think it is fitting she opened with a neutral position. She does go on to say, “Yet nature with equality imparts/And noble passions, swell e’en female hearts” (NAAL 783). Clearly, the idea of feminism is still present in todays society, and it’s interesting to examine Murray’s ideas and how they contrast to the ideas present in society today. From the poem, we can clearly see that Murray wants equality among the sexes, which is what many feminists today want as well.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on March 13, 2018

      [Now we know with what consummate wisdom the unerring father of eternity hath formed his plans]

      Here Murray is blatantly referring to the absolute sovereignty of God, but she does not use this reference in the same way as the Puritans had in high praise of his works. Instead of praise, Murray’s rationalism points her to the fallible nature of the story of Adam and Eve. Gender distinctions and intellect are important themes she refers to that are influential, but commonly overlooked in the story of the fall of man.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on March 13, 2018

      In this section, Murray seems to be urging what would be considered a simple argument by today’s United States culture: women are intellectually equal to men. Certainly, this view is still not agreed upon within the entirety of the modern United States, where women are regarded as intellectually unable to pursue education or spend time outside of the housework. Murray wants the reader to understand that if women are given access to the same education that men recieve and if they are given the opportunity to take on tasks beyond sewing and cooking, that women will be intellectually equal to and in some regards superior to men. She argues that men are letting women’s minds be wasted, which may be appealing to her audience, where by speaking directly to men, those in power, she can make some change.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on March 14, 2018

      [Another instance of our creative powers, is our talent for slander; how ingenious are we at inventive scandal? what a formidable story can we in a moment fabricate merely from the force of a prolifick imagination? how many reputations, in the fertile brain of a female, have been utterly despoiled?]

      I found this passage interesting. Murray makes many great points throughout the work, but I don’t think that this example is particularly helpful to her cause. To bring up the idea that women are great at slandering others and making up events makes women seem evil. Considering one of the recurring thoughts is the inequality of education between males and females, I would think that incorporating another positive way that women use imagination would be the better way to go. That way, men would be more inclined to want to help women improve their imagination, instead of cast doubt that they would actually cause more problems should they have access to better education.

      Comment by Erin McManis on March 14, 2018

      I agree. I like that she started with a poem to set up her ideas of what her later prose will be about. That not all minds are alike, there are some who chose not to embrace knowledge and improve their state of mind. It’s not so much about men being strong and woman being weak, it is more about the equality of our minds and in this instance, men or women both can be weak in mind.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on March 14, 2018

      I think a strength of Judith Sargent Murray’s is her attention to the organization in all of her writing. Throughout the piece we see her points of argument stated, backed up by evidence, and then subsequently reinforced. In this way, as we see in the letter, her views of universalism and equality aren’t just present, but successfully argued in a rational and intelligent way. This factor is incredibly important when considering her subject matter and to whom she was directing her statements. It is clear that in each of her works there is a significant amount of time and thought put into each one, and that the author does not shy away from the subject at hand. This is remarkable given the time in which she was writing, and the rhetorical effectiveness that she clearly has.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on March 14, 2018

      I don’t think she’s ruining her case for she later points out (just a few lines after your quote) that she isn’t using that quality of embellishment as a reason for women’s superiority. Rather she uses it to demonstrate how imaginative they can be and how quickly it develops. I also think she’s arguing that were women treated as equals and given access to education as men were, they would be just as apt, if not more so, than men to be inventive and use those imaginative skills for better pursuits instead of slandering others or being gossips. She’s arguing that those skills that women possess to “despoil” another’s reputation are evidence of critical thinking in ways that are clearly detrimental but those skills exist despite the lack of education. Again, they could be used for better and greater endeavors than just being catty adornments.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on March 14, 2018

      “On the Equality of the Sexes, Judith Sargent Murray assertively took a stand on women’s rights and reminds society that men and women’s mind are created equal by nature. However, society has robbed women of the opportunity to express their intellect and reason through confinement and intellectual limitations. Murray sates, “Meantime she herself is most unhappy; she feels the want of a cultivated mind” (785). It is interesting that Murray did not imply that domestic endeavors are degrading for women. What she found degrading is how society oppressively deny women intellectual pursuits. Murray say that the women that crave for a cultivated mind but cannot attain it are the unhappier. She assesses that women with inadequate education develop a tremendous sense of inferiority due to their uncultivated mind and not because of any innate deficiency. “She experiences a mortifing consciousness of inferiority which embitters every enjoyment” (785). Overall, Murrays writing is inspiring because gender equality was a new concept in her era. And even though she knew that she was going to be fiercely criticized by her male educated audience, she did not shy away from speaking her mind.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 14, 2018

      [THAT minds are not alike, full well I know, This truth each day’s experience will show; To heights surprising some great spirits soar, With inborn strength mysterious depths explore;]

      Note the interchangeability of “minds” and “spirits” in this passage. Both are associated with exploration of “mysterious depths,” and both references pave the way to the Newtonian reference in the sixth line. The dominant values here are intellect and rationalism, and the concept of “spirit” has become absorbed within that framework. The secularization of spirituality coincides with how we observed Thomas Paine making references to heaven, hell, and God in the opening of “The Crisis,” but in a material and political context, not a religious one.  These examples show how thoroughly the language of religious experience has been appropriated by Deism in the scientific age. If we pay attention to references to spirit in the rest of the poem, we’ll notice how the different instances more or less conform to this tendency.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on March 14, 2018

      Ky, great points, and I can see how women are still fighting for these rights today. It is crazy to see something like this written so long ago can still be relevant today. I really enjoy how she writes about how she can have her own perspective on religion and her own ideas. The segment, “our ideas will then be worthy of rational beings” as though women are not rational. Murray has a strong sense of empowerment and a need to share her beliefs and it is very clear in her writing. She feels the need to defend herself, her writing, and creative and innovative thoughts. Murray is similar to Wheatley in ways of fighting a set system. They are both are writing about how they are worthy of something that the white men in their society say they can’t achieve. I enjoy her sassy tone in this writing as well.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on March 14, 2018

      I found this section to be so interesting, as Murray moves into explaining her argument for her readers. There is a lot of reference to scripture and biblical imagery, as well as her reference to the “wifely duties” as Hillary pointed out previously, that Murray seems to turn on their heads to instead advocate for women’s equality and right to education. In those references from the Bible in the beginning lines, Murray uses the rationale of her opposition to gain ground for her side, acknowledging the passages of scripture that “seem to give advantage to the other sex” but she explains that they aren’t actually doing that. Instead, Murray argues that some of the most favored men in the Bible are in fact very flawed. This imagery leads Murray to the startling metaphor several lines down which states that women “from early youth have been adorned with ribbons…dressed out like the ancient victims previous to a sacrifice”, intensifying the urgency of her argument. Through this example of the reversal and upheaval of biblical references, we see Murray’s persuasive powers at work. Though the proposition that Murray is presenting here would hardly even begin to solve all the inequalities women faced, I think that the explanation of her argument here shows great thought and intellectual depth.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 14, 2018


      I was also drawn to this part of the reading. I would have to agree that this segment illustrates Murray’s agenda with the writing as a whole. What she does here is a very artful tactic. She has to please the men and society on one hand, yet demand equal rights on the other. I would also agree that she is not trying to become the dominant sex or be more powerful or ‘better’ than men, it is more about equality. She wants to have the same resources and the same playing field that is available to men. Murray has to present her change as you said, in a way that will make it seem minimal in order to have a chance at success. To me, this particular piece in the writing was most interesting because it has so many layers to it. As a reader you can observe her cunning tactic of submitting in a way to gain power.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on March 14, 2018

      The beginning of this paragraph gives a very good example of how that our subsequent souls are “by nature equal” to those not of female gender etc. God has animated all of us in the same way so there is no reason to think as one greater than the other. This piece, or well, this paragraph of this piece, has a very female empowerment vibe. She wants to make it known that females are just as human as males. Females are made from the same “breath of God” as males so there is nothing about them that makes them better than females as a person.




      Comment by Kylie Ruble on March 15, 2018

      Although the entirety of this piece is strong, I especially found this section of Judith Sargent Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes” to be powerful and pleasantly surprising. Murray is boldly standing up to men in her patriarchal society and, not suggesting, but demanding equality and education for women. She addresses the argument that women’s minds are weaker than men because their bodies are weaker and states “But if this reasoning is just, man must be content to yield the palm to many of the brute creation, since by not a few of his brethren of the field, he is far surpassed in bodily strength.” She uses the well-respected Mr. Pope as an example of a man whose body is weak but mind is strong. If it were true that physical strength determines mental strength than men like Pope would be far less intelligent than larger, stronger men but this is not the case. The same is true of women and she even says that nature “invested the female mind with superior strength as an equivalent for the bodily powers of man.” In this section, Murray eloquently argues for the equality and education of women in a time when this was not an acceptable argument.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 15, 2018

      I had the same thoughts throughout this passage. In the prior passage, Murrary starts by debunking the basic assumption that women do not have the same intellectual capacity as men. Citing women’s endeavors in fashion and gossip, Sargent Murray asserts that although these activities may be morally questionable, they nonetheless show a general tendency toward imagination, creativity, and memory which are the hallmarks of all forms of intelligence. Then in this passage, we see Murray question “the difference of education and continued advantages” that men have over women. While men have full access to knowledge, women are destined to do without because of social constraints. Then, in a move that is an early argument against the process of naturalization, she maintains that a lack of knowledge or intelligence is not an inherent state, but rather a position constructed by society in an effort to make inequality seem natural.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 15, 2018

      Data visualization for Murray.

  • Thomas Harriot, from <i>A Brief and True Report of the Newfound Land of Virginia</i> (20 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 9, 2018

      Data Visualization for Thomas Harriot’s Brief and True Report.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 10, 2018

      Note here the five sequential steps Harriot projects for successful assimilation of the Roanoke Indians: (1) the technological superiority of the English fills the natives with awe; (2) that will lead to their desire for friendship with the colonists; (3) this desire will make them more obedient and tractable; (4) their obedience will make  it possible to civilize them according to British standards; (5) civilizing the natives will lead to their embrace of Christianity. He refers to these steps again below (though out of the order they assume here) in paragraph 30. The indiginous  populations would prove less easily subjugated than Hariott anticipates, and this program would fail at Roanoke and elsewhere in later colonies.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 10, 2018

      I found this paragraph interesting because of Harriot’s ideology about the Natives of the time. Using the phrase, which I have seen now in numerous readings, “in respect to us they are a people poor” is interesting to me because the colonists themselves have so much to learn, and to the Native Americans may appear as they do to the colonists. He acknowledges that they have “excellence of wit,” and as a result saved many British lives who came over not knowing how to deal with the harsh natures of America.

      Comment by Amber Abercrombie on January 10, 2018

      While it is fascinating and easy to see the differences in the practices and culture of this time period vs. our modern age throughout Harriot’s records, this paragraph could easily be written today. Missionaries from many religions still travel to third world countries to make “declaration of the contents of the Bible” and preach about “the true and only God, and his mighty works.” It seems the religious conversion intentions span centuries and will most likely always be a practice.

      It is interesting to see the undertones of this intention show up throughout these pages, ever present as the ultimate goal in the rules he lays out for successful assimilation of the Roanoke Indians, but also more subtly so woven throughout. I’m curious how the attempt at said assimilation would have played out if the goal was just to utilize America for her Eden-like qualities and religious conversion was left out of it.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 10, 2018

      This paragraph intrigues me. We have two types of people here: Harriot, who has had access to various religions in his culture, and the Native priests, who only have the word of the “fathers” before them. I find it fascinating that the knowledge of a new religion to a culture who has never considered anything but their own beliefs (Native priests) is assumed to have doubts upon hearing of it. Just the idea that tradition means so little, even if that is all these people knew.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on January 10, 2018

      These beginning paragraphs seem to consist of Harriot checking out the competition between themselves and the natives of North America. Everything that Harriot is writing is just confirming that the English are the better and more advanced society. Although the natives don’t seem to want to wage a war with the colonists, if they did, the English would have no problem destroying and controlling them. Harriot explains that in this paragraph. He even says that “running away is their best defense.” Harriot comes to the conclusion that they would have no chance in ever keeping their land from colonizers.

      Comment by Ries Cope on January 10, 2018

      This paragraph really interested me. Not only does it talk about people rising from the dead but, it also talks about the Native Americans versions of heaven and hell. Its incredible to me how similar the two religions were. Although they still had their differences they had a lot of similarities for how far apart the two countries are. It’s no surprise to me that after seeing people rise from the dead, the Native Americans thought the English to be immortal as mentioned in paragraph 29. They brought new technology, a new religion, and then death upon them, with all the English staying healthy. It would seem like a strange thought in our modern world, but back then Native Americans lived simply, with only knowledge passed down father to son. The idea that the English god would send immortals down to bring the Native Americans the true religion and new technology doesn’t seem far-fetched. Then add in that people started dying from unknown reasons after the English arrived. I completely understand how come they saw the English as immortals.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on January 10, 2018

      I found this paragraph to be very interesting. Harriot is just describing how the Native Americans are dressed and describing their weapons. He seems to be almost talking about the differences between the natives and the English coming to the new land. He is also making it clear that they are clearly better and more advanced than the Native Americans.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on January 10, 2018

      Although this is only one line, it brings up the point that Europe (specifically England) was planning on converting the Native Americans and their beliefs to the beliefs overseas. He also brings about the idea that because there is an already established religion (what he sees as ‘wrong’), it will be even easier to convert the Native Americans.

      Comment by Erin McManis on January 10, 2018

      I think that the article as a whole is fascinating, but this one to me made an impact. Harriot is describing what are basically teepees, but the descriptive words he used are what makes the most impact. You can see what he is describing, and i can imagine being there. I really enjoy it.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on January 10, 2018

      This section stood out to me because this is essentially what happened to the Native Americans. Eventually, these expeditions would bring settlers to their land and they would begin to take over. Even though this part of the report is a bit more fanciful, the Europeans brought illnesses that the Native Americans died from, which would be like the “invisible bullets” mentioned in this passage. Add in the future violence against the natives and the decision to force the remaining peoples into reservations (though this would be many years later), and you can’t help but feel like this was indeed a prophecy of what was to come.

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on January 10, 2018

      I thought this description of the creation of man was really interesting in contrast to the one used in Christianity. For Christians, the beginning of mankind started with Adam, and then God created Eve to live in the Garden of Eden with him. Eventually, after they partook of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve went on to populate the Earth with many children. However, for the Native Americans, there was no “Adam,” only an Eve, which I thought was an interesting and notable difference between the two religions. This paragraph is also interesting in the way it distinguishes their form of record-keeping. Rather than physical records and writing, traditions, stories, and history are passed down from generation to generation, which I thought was important compared to the physical writings and records that the British tried to maintain.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on January 10, 2018

      I definitely agree with what you said, Natalie. In the prior paragraphs, I see a lot of Harriot comparing the Natives to the English. He makes observations about the Natives–what they’re wearing, what types of weapons they hold–yet I detected underlying tones of superiority. The tone of superiority makes itself known especially in this paragraph, when Harriot says “If there fall any wars between us & them…we having advantages against them so many manner of ways…the turning up of thier heels against us in running away was their best defense” Here, Harriot is so arrogant that he believes the Natives would stand no chance against the English. Harriot has no doubt in his mind that the English would win the war against the Natives because of their believed superiority. While Harriot is making these observations, it seems that he can’t help but compare the Natives to the English.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on January 10, 2018

      This stood out to me because through out the entire piece there is a comparison of the native americans and the english settlers but in this paragraph it is stated very bold how much better the English are. Its amusing to see how they thought the natives should desire their friendship and love and they should fear them but they should not fear them or care for their love and friendship. There are some compliments in this paragraph as the natives are seen as witty.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on January 10, 2018

      This paragraph specifically caught my attention while I was reading, and reveals some of the ulterior motives that Harriot has in conveying all this detailed information on the Native Americans to British authorities. In the last sentence, Harriot clearly states that he believes conversion of the Native Americans and subsequent adoption of Christianity will play a necessary and key part in the conquering North America. In the final sentence of the paragraph, Harriot states that this “embracing of the truth” will allow the British to have control over them and make them “honor, obey, fear and love us”. This is revealing that conversion efforts were not altruistic, as some would like us to believe, but rather illustrates the British recognizing the power and influence that religion has on individuals, and seeking to wield that power in an effort to destroy the indigenous culture and in their place establish Western ideals. The irony comes in the English using a gospel that was meant to bring peace and harmony and instead turning it into a weapon that they could use against their fellow man.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on January 10, 2018

      [it was rather to be had from us]

      I think this paragraph gives a summary as to when someone happens to be in possession of new things. The sight of seeing new things that we have no comprehension of makes us want to learn from those higher than us. Because the colonist were in possession of these unknown items it make the Natives think them as “gods.” If those of “lesser” beings or knowledge see the “gods” in possession of items they have no comprehension of they would want to learn. And because the Natives didn’t know the truth of the god(s) those they looked toward could take advantage of them, as it had to be from them (the colonists). They so willing to learn from the “gods” that they would be more likely to follow the “fake gods” to their “fake true way,” instead of finding their own true way.

      In the stories I have read or heard about when new cultures are found this paragraph give a great summary as to how things can happen. With them learning from the “gods” while they also want to befriends and not offend. But at the same time in their eagerness to learn they can be duped.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on January 10, 2018

      This paragraph uses interesting terms such a dawning of the day and moon light which drew me in  at first then I realized that this paragraph shows the hidden war tactics of the indigenous people. It explains that they do not have set battles which I am not sure many wars happen in a set way per say but at least slightly organized due to rumors being received about one army planning to attack another and so forth.  This paragraph gives a clue into how the indigenous fight in the forest instead so that they may have the “hope of defence.”

      Comment by Erica Moyer on January 10, 2018

      I started to skim this reading to get a general overview of the reading overall and this paragraph, and the few that follow, stood out to me. I like the description of the Native Americans, the weapons they carried, and the description of the village they inhabited. it paints a really good picture of what it was like there. I definitely see where you say that he is making a comparison to the village versus England. There is a clear comparison when he is talking about the simplicity of the weapons they carried and a clear implication of England’s superiority to these natives tools and living conditions.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on January 10, 2018

      This passage felt very relevant to me in that it shows not only Harriot’s proposed process of assimilation of the Native American’s, and is also strongly suggestive of the Englishmen’s perception of authority over the Native American’s on religious grounds. Here there is a clear assertion of dominance and authority on the part of the Englishmen, along with a debasement of Native American culture and customs.

      Harriot’s notion that the Native American people needed to be “brought to civility”, and that they should be “embracing of true religion” is a racist mentality that is the foundation of future oppressive belief systems  such as Manifest Destiny and Americanization that the Native American’s also suffered from.


      Comment by Kayla Haley on January 11, 2018

      This paragraph particularly stood out to me because of the boldness Harriot has in his writing. In previous paragraphs Harriot expresses the uniqueness of the Wiroans government and the battles that they have. There is a sense that the life these indigenous people live are extremely out of the ordinary and that the English are much better than this. Harriot states that the Wiroans, “shall find our manner of knowledge and crafts to exceed theirs in perfection…so much the more is it probable that they should desire out friendship and love, and have the greater respect for pleasing and obeying us.” This line is shared almost directly after he has said the people have “Excellence of wit” without the English’s tools and weapons. Even though they have survived and created a government for themselves Harriot makes it clear that the English way should also be the Wiroans way. Harriot continues to explain that these people must follow the English way and they “may be brought to civility., sating that in order for the people to keep their land they need to become the same as the English people or there will be a downfall for them

  • "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (16 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 11, 2018

      Data Visualization of Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on February 13, 2018

      The idea of cohesiveness, declension, absolute sovereignty, and immediacy are apparent in paragraph 12 of Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. The idea of cohesiveness, or lack there of, can be seen when God’s ‘enemies’, “hand join in hand and… combine and associate themselves”. Yet, they can also be seen as not being cohesive as they are “easily broken in pieces”. Declension is also apparent when Edwards because he speaks about the falling away of God and religion that has become apparent and the result of what happens when one falls away from God. Absolute sovereignty is apparent when Edwards speaks about how “easy it is for God when he pleases to cast his enemies down to hell”. This is the idea that God has complete control of those who follow them and those who do not. For those who do not, it is easy for God to dismiss them and send them to Hell. Finally, immediacy is apparent in this paragraph as Edwards speaks about how easy it is for God to damn someone to Hell- contributing to the idea that it is important that one surrenders themselves to God so that they may be saved and not sent to Hell.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on February 14, 2018

      This stanza really stood out to me because it is one that sets up the entirety of the rest of the sermon. Throughout this entire work Edwards calls out the people to repentant and stop their wickedness sinning. In this particular passage we see Edwards using the scripture to describe the people of his time now. He clearly states “In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God”, appealing and explain to the people exactly what happened in the previous scripture. He then goes on to compare another scripture to the first scripture. The rhetoric that Edwards uses is relatable and really draws in the audience; setting them up  and preparing them for the deep sermon to come.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on February 14, 2018

      This passage stands out to me due to its stark imagery. As with many texts that link themselves to the Bible, Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” invokes many of the same iconography as other biblical type media. The one that particularly comes to mind for me in correlation to this piece, is John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Texts such as these seem to always bring up the same questions, such as the existence of free will. In this particular passage, the reader is met with the nightmarish image of the Devil and his demons “ready to fall upon” those who house inherent wickedness. However, similarly to Milton’s portrayal of Lucifer, Edwards inadvertently or otherwise dredges up questions of free will by making it clear that like Milton’s Lucifer, it is God who creates and allows all things. Which causes one to wonder how much blame lies with the wicked, and how much of it with God?

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on February 20, 2018

      I find that absolute sovereignty, declension, and immediacy are apparent in this paragraph. It is ultimately God’s choice to damn sinners to Hell and he also has the power to save those who have repented. Immediacy is also apparent when Edwards says that, “their damnation don’t slumber, the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them”. It is now too late for those who have sinned to repent- Hell is ready to receive them and there is no time left. I think declension is also apparent in that the world has reached the point where God is returning- it seems to be because of the amount of sinners on Earth. It is reminiscent of Noah, God destroyed the Earth because it was filled with sin. It seems as though this is occurring on Earth again.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on February 22, 2018

      This entire passage Edwards points out that the people are walking a fine line of living in sin. Edwards needs to remind the people that only God can choose the elect and who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. If the people do no change their ways then they will always be “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” so change is imperative and living well and good and doing Gods will is the way to escape being cast into the fire.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on February 24, 2018

      This passage stands out to me because Jonathan Edwards changes his tone as he tells his congregation that time is running out and need to take advantage of the opportunity God is offering them to repent and join the joyful elect before is eternally too late. ‘Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to Him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in His own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.” He directly references those who have repented of their sinful ways. Consequently, they now rejoice in their eternal security. This passage illustrates God’s sovereignty and the concept of cohesion. When sinners confess and repent, God is the only one that grants forgiveness.




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      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 28, 2018

      The following considerations caught my attention for many reasons. First, there are ten considerations, which stood out to me as a parody of the ten commandments. Ten things that God has told man not to do, and ten reasons why man should remember what would happen if they fail to keep their wickedness to a minimum. Second, Edwards is really preaching about innate depravity and the elect here. To him, men are wicked through and through, and it’s only by God’s whim that each and every person has yet to be cast into Hell. No one is safe just because they believe that they or their families have done enough to escape Hell, according to Edwards, God can still drop them any time he pleases. Third, the fear tactic that Edwards opted for is extremely effective in the 10 considerations. He could have easily chosen to gently reprimand and remind his congregation, but he chose to completely terrify them by reminding them of just what they had to lose/look forward to if they displeased God any more than they already had. Ultimately, this section is a pure expression of God’s absolute sovereignty.

      Comment by Ries Cope on February 28, 2018

      This passage grabbed my attention because he is saying that if you continue in this unconverted state then God will “magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments: you shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is, and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty.” He reciting a passage from Isaiah 66:23-24 to inform the unconverted people of what God has the power to do and will do if they do not convert. This is really interesting to me because it shows a more brutal side of God and not a gracious side.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on February 28, 2018

      This paragraph was particularly striking to me as I was reading, because in the midst of the anger and fire of this sermon, I “re-realized” the fact that Edwards is speaking this sermon to his congregation, a group of professing Christians and Puritans nonetheless, who have publicly confessed and given account of their conversion narratives. Those who Edwards refers to in other places as those who are “out of God” shouldn’t even be listening to this sermon because they wouldn’t have been present in the sanctuary. Who is Edwards speaking to? He addresses those listening as “sinners”, stating later that they “have no interesting any mediator” and are actively rejecting God, which leads me to ask if Edwards saw hypocrisy within the church and that was the motive behind this sermon. More than that, where is any mention of grace or salvation or saints? Does Edwards feel like he has to balance out the grace of Taylor and Bradstreet with a terrifying and militaristic view of God like Mather?

      Comment by Anne Albertson on February 28, 2018

      This paragraph has a very interesting implication. It states that they are liable to fall of themselves even without being thrown down by the hand of another. In translation this is stating that their downfall can be caused by their own actions and not by the actions of others. It is an interesting piece of advice as well in a way. It wants readers to understand that, through the example of walking on slippery ground and the own individuals weight is what brings him down, that the individuals actions cause their own consequences.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on February 28, 2018

      It is hard to believe that the same person Jonathan Edwards gave both this sermon and wrote the poetic analogies of Christ to nature and an insightful “Personal Narrative. Even “A Divine Supernatural “Light does not have the same bloody condemnations as this sermon. The language in this sermon is fierce and unforgiving, no wonder he had to make the people quiet their crying so that he could finish it (see the footnotes). Whp the “them” in this section is not quite clear if taken out of context, though, one may guess that it has to do with “wicked Israelites” and any other person who has not yet converted. The last sentence of this paragraph wraps up a series of angry, fiery words by saying that even if you thought you might have a chance at getting away with not converting, you will not get away, God has the ultimate hold on your life and your afterlife.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on March 1, 2018

      This passage seems to support my idea that Edwards sees God as merciful because mankind does not deserve grace but some are still given it. Edwards suggests here that God using his power against those who deserve it is justice and anything besides this is “nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back”. The contrast between this work and “The Beauty of the World” is also astounding. I cannot believe these were written by the same person.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 1, 2018

      [if God should withdraw his hand]

      Whereas it is not as explicit as it appears in Edwards’  “A Divine and Supernatural Light,” the assumption of God’s immediacy (ie, his continual presence in world and hand in the workings of his creation) is present in a lot of instances of the present text. This is in opposition to the Deistic principles we’ve addressed, where the creator is largely seen as an “absentee God”–a watchmaker who designed the universe and set it going, and ceased to have any more direct interaction with it. Much as the lions are said to be held back by God’s intervention here, human beings are prone to fall as a result of the weight of their own sin. It is God’s hand that holds them up, for a time, but when and if he pulls his hand away, descent will be rapid and irreversible.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on March 1, 2018

      Anne, you make a great point. I see this as an example of all branches of Christianity. God does not judge you for the sins or actions of the people around you, but your own. Edwards is alluding to this by saying their own weight is what will throw them down. God will not protect you from our own sins, so the only way to stay on your feet is to not sin and follow the word of God. I see this a perfect example of Puritan literature. They seem to bully their followers into their strict lifestyle by threatening the possibility to end up in Hell if they do not follow God blindly.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 3, 2018

      This paragraph introduces the concept that one can only be held responsible for their own sins and pitfalls. This is a reminder to the readers that only they are at fault for sins and actions that they carry out. Once they face God’s divine judgment, there will be no one else to defer the blame to when God looks at their behavior throughout their lives. This is both a comfort and a discomfort in the way that people only have to worry about their own actions affecting their destiny. On the other hand it is a warning or reminder to stay on track and steady in ones faith, because one could bring themselves down by deterring from this path.

  • Washington Irving, "Rip Van Winkle" (15 comments)

    • Comment by Ky Alexander on April 17, 2018

      Many themes in the story come forward in this passage, the overarching Knickerbockers and Yankees feud, change from old to new, the stereotypical comments on gender roles, and the use of nature as a way to connect these themes. Throughout the story, Rip and the narrator have commented about the wife and women in general, calling them “hen” in different manners, referring to them as nagging, despite their supportive roles, but in this passage, the wife has disappeared and Rip must feel the consequences of her absence. As a reader, I wish that more than one paragraph was contributed to her loss in this particular passage, but I suppose it is better than Rip being relieved that she was gone. Rip then moves through the town and finds that everything has changed, alluding to a takeover by the Yankees, an out with the old and in with new, and this is solidified by the imagery of King George being replaced by GENERAL WASHINGTON and him being called a tory. Rip replies that he is “a poor, quiet man,” showing that he represents the rural lifestyle, which seems to have been urbanized during his twenty years away. In this scene, Rip has come from the mountains and into town, leaving nature, where he had an acid-like experience, and coming to terms with reality once he has come down. Thus, nature was the literal portal for him to transport through time, such that even if he remains away from society, society still changes around him.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on April 18, 2018

      I love the emotion and the writing in this paragraph. This is so very different from the Puritan pieces we read leading up to this point. Bless his heart, you feel as if you are poor mister Rip Van Winkle. The emotion, fanciful storytelling, passion, and honest storytelling has really come to light in this piece. This is the beginning of modern literature as we know it today, and is a testament to how far writing has come. The appeal to honesty and integrity is still important here in the protagonist of the piece being as that Van Winkle still has to be an upstanding man in order for the reader to feel connected with his story. It is also a bit of a relief from the more modern pieces because for once it is not in the setting of a city and a broad story of many religious ideals but rather a hones in story fully focused on this one man

      Comment by Ries Cope on April 18, 2018

      I really enjoyed this passage. It gives a very entertaining and detailed description of the type of man Rip was. When the narrator says “would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound.” The reader gets a better understanding of how come he doesn’t want to work on his farm. He hates work. The narrator says he would “whistled life away, in perfect contentment” It seems Rip would have been completely fine with nothing. With how the narrator speaks in this passage it seems that Rip doesn’t even have a need or desire for his wife. Family’s require work and with how this passage is described the reader gets the idea that Rip doesn’t like any type of work, not even love. “Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing. This, however, always provoked a fresh volley from his wife.” He would then go outside but the passage never says anything about him working with her on his responses or that he goes outside to actually work. I enjoyed how this passage gives a deeper description of the type of man Rip was.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on April 18, 2018

      [At the foot of these fairy mountains]

      In Washington Irving’s story of Rip Van Winkle the setting of the Appalachian Mountains is as meaning full as the metaphor in the story. What Irving does at the introduction of his story here is he starts by setting an image for the reader, and a precedent in general, of a notion of magic and mystery that is hidden or underlying in the American landscape. These themes of magic and mystery that are usually developed out of a long, veiled historical context of British literature, in American literature now rely on the vast mysteries that are held within the grand mountainous settings of America.

      Comment by Erin McManis on April 18, 2018

      I agree. This paragraph shows amazing imagery and descriptive words that contribute more to the mystery with the light smoke curling upward and the blue melting away into the greener landscape. I love this clear description of the song so that we truly get a picture of where this takes place.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on April 18, 2018

      In this paragraph of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip compares the new citizens, New Englanders, to the old New Yorkers. The “Yankees” are a busy, money-oriented group; they want change and progress in their new country. The old “Knickerbockers” lived much calmer and slower lives. Rip experiences a metamorphosis in nature that transports him to a new time that is so different from what he knows that he almost mistakes it for a different place. Everything he knew is gone (the people, the fashions, the buildings, even his dog) and has been replaced. This represents the change from the colonies being under the rule of Britain to the states being under the command of their own government: everything changed in a short time.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on April 18, 2018

      One of my favorite things about this story is the excellent setup of Rip’s character traits. This story is well known for a few important reasons, such as the commentary on the American revolution, but the thing that sticks out to me the most is the well written humor that engulfs the whole story. Rip is set up as a lazy husband and father in this passage, which is important because it sets up a tone that is carried throughout the rest of the plot. The plot point where Rip falls asleep outside the town works really well with most readers because of the way Rip is set up in these early paragraphs. Also, the reader is led to not question the length of Rip’s rest even though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because of the quirky and whimsical tone that Irving sets up early on in the story.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on April 18, 2018

      I enjoyed this paragraph because it is always nice to know what you are going to be reading about. It is interesting to me that this man, Diedrich Knickerbocker, wanted to study Dutch history and instead of studying history directly, instead studied a Dutch family. However, I think it is also very interesting that it is blatantly stated that he preferred to study people because books “are lamentably scanty on his favorite topics.”

      Comment by Marie Gentle on April 18, 2018

      Your comment brought up the idea, for me, of this being a far-fetched version of the departure-peril-arrival motif that we’ve been seeing consistently throughout the different readings this semester. Although, in this narrative, I’m not really sure that Rip is ever in a particularly perilous situation despite his decision to follow the old wanderer in the hills and to drink an unknown substance that takes twenty years to sleep off.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 18, 2018

      I really enjoy Washington Irving’s writing style. He writes simply and is easily understood. But, I can tell there is more behind his simple words. Irving seems to be writing about a bigger message. You can tell he is very choice with his words and make sure not to add any unnecessary or gap sentences, which is unusual for a writer. I liked the line in this paragraph, “the rain always made a point of setting in just as he had some out-door work to do”, it is very relatable. The days always turn out to be the wrong time to do something you really don’t want to do.

      Comment by Anne Albertson on April 18, 2018

      This feels like one of the most important paragraphs in the story because it introduces Rip Van Winkle and shows readers his character likes and dislikes and ways of life. It is interesting there that this is the paragraph where it tells readers that he kind of ignores the bad things that goes on in his life. He likes to whistle his life away but his wife is complaining, he is careless, and he is bringing ruin to his family but he shrugs it off and ignores it. In some ways it seems that it does not affect his outloook on life, but eventually it seems as if things might take its toll.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 19, 2018

      Nice points, Jacob. Only note that Irving does not use the term lazy here. What he does say is that Rip is averse to all “profitable” forms of labor, and it’s important to observe that his lack of a profit motive sets him squarely at odds with the materialistic values of the enlightenment age. Just as we’ve seen other works offer a rejection of Enlightenment values (ie, Brown’s rejection of rationalism as a guiding principle for understanding human behavior), we can see in Rip’s character a rejection of the commercialism and material self-interest championed by writers like Freneau and Franklin. In the present tale, though, the enlightenment wave will descend on Rip’s way of life so quickly and thorough that it seems to him to do so overnight.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 20, 2018

      [Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself as he went up the mountain; apparently as lazy, and certainly as ragged.]

      Even though Rip had been missing for 20 years, his son was there to fill his place as if he had never left (and it seems like his grandson might take up that mantle when both are gone). There is a sense of stasis here in comparison to the massive change the village has experienced. However, because this new village is becoming more focused on making money due to the Yankee invasion, Rip Van Winkle Jr.’s way of life might be unsustainable. It makes me wonder how Rip III will turn out when he becomes an adult.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 24, 2018

      Ky, you make some great points in your post. I think the role of women in this story is interesting, especially since he doesn’t seem to appreciate his wife and then he loses her and feels loneliness. I agree with you in wishing that he acknowledged her death more. But I guess that isn’t the main point of the story.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on April 27, 2018

      In his article, entitled ‘Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture’, scholar Robert A. Ferguson examines the character of Rip Van Winkle in depth and identifies some of the key flaws that keep this iconic figure of early American Folklore in conversation to this day. One of the flaws identified in Ferguson’s article is the issue of drink, which is brought up in the selected paragraph. Ferguson argues that Rip’s problems with being a “naturally thirsty soul” can be attributed to and explain his lack of success in life: “Habitual drinking keeps him from the steady application that every good farm requires” (533). This explanation of Rip’s tendency to ‘bum around’ aligns to the events of the story, as well as illuminating a reason why he continues to be a influential character in American literature. According to Ferguson, “We value Rip most of all because we find something of our own foibles in him, not because we worry about drink or because we fear an encounter with Heinrich Hudson when we enter the Kaatskill Mountains. Rip’s faults…are our own bad habits carried to extremes. Irving keeps to the lighter side of these extremes” (533-534). Through the relatable aspects and complexities of Rip’s character, readers throughout the years are enabled, through Irving’s lighthearted storytelling, to return to this original American folktale with as timeless a perspective as the readers who scanned the first print-warmed lines of this work.

      Ferguson, Robert A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture.” Early American Literature, vol. 40, no. 3, 2005, pp. 529–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25057421.

  • William Cullen Bryant, "Thanatopsis" (14 comments)

    • Comment by Anne Albertson on April 24, 2018

      [To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks]

      Thanatopsis can be known as a poem that is completely focuses around the love of nature and all things that have accquired beauty. In the first two lines it speaks of nature, love, and the term “she.” It could be argued quite easily that Nature is a “her” as many people refer back to Mother Nature. Its interesting here that it basically states that the character is in love with Nature but in her visible forms. Her visible forms could either mean as Nature; trees, rivers, mountains, land, sea, etc. . . or it could refer to Nature in a visible form of a woman if she had that sort of power to transform.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on April 24, 2018

      [The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death,]

      As a hearkening back to the naturalistic pieces of the earlier writings discussed in this class, this piece gives an ode to nature and it’s wonder, while also bringing out the sadness and darkness that simultaneously lies within. This quote particularly shares the “golden sun” and then starkly ends with the “sad abodes of death” with the heavens “shining” onto it. This could almost be seen as the beginnings of a theoretical perception of a life that is without meaning or spirituality, and simply the evolution of man rather than giving glory to God as our earlier pieces would have.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on April 24, 2018

      [When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;— Go forth, under the open sky,]

      I agree with both Jessica and Anne regarding the way in which “Thanatopsis” focuses on nature and its’ beauty. However, this section in particular really spoke to me. I thought it was a really beautiful section. It talks about when someone has dark thoughts, or are just having a bad day, going under the open sky and immersing oneself in nature is the best remedy.

      I think that this really spoke to me because it’s something that I enjoy doing. When I’ve had a long day, or a bad day, I enjoy going and laying on my hammock or the lawn and simply watching the stars. Using nature as a remedy is something that isn’t unusual even in the modern world. I did some research and found that this was originally was published in 1817. This made me even more intrigued, since in 1817, the author said, “When thoughts/Of the last bitter hour come like a blight/…Go forth, under the open sky” Even written 200 years ago, the idea of using nature as a remedy was relevant, and it still relevant today, which is something that I thought was really cool.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on April 25, 2018

      [Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould. Yet not to thiy eternal resting-place]

      This section of the poem, Bryant is addressing the human condition to fear their mortality. That everyone dies and that there is no way around it. It is his ‘eternal resting place’ and ‘thou retire alone’. He is fearful that he will forever be alone once he dies. But he finds strength is the ‘roots’ he has found in religion. You can tell that he trusts God and the path He has laid out for him. This section of the poem speaks loudly on Bryant’s beliefs.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on April 25, 2018

      [Old ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death, Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom]

      This particular part stood out to me because I think it evokes questions from the readers as well as suggests Bryant’s beliefs of the after life. Throughout the poem Bryant uses “sleep” as a metaphor for death. It makes me wonder about Bryant’s beliefs of an afterlife. From my interpretation, Bryant does believe in an after life. Bryant uses the imagery of “The golden sun, / The planets, all the infinite host of heaven” to express how nature still applies to those who have dies. Expressing that nature still “Shines on the sad abodes of death”.  This slumber, or death that takes place does not endanger ones connection with nature.  Bryant suggests that nature is with us always even in the afterlife.


      Comment by Ries Cope on April 25, 2018

      [When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;— Go forth, under the open sky,]

      I agree, every summer after a long school year, I go camping up in the mountains to get away. Nature is a great remedy. This part really stands out to me as well. The idea that this same remedy was used so long ago is mind-blowing. The research you said you did is incredibly interesting as well. Its relieving to know that throughout all the bad things throughout history, we have always had nature there to support us. This section of the poem reminds me that it is, and always will be there.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 25, 2018

      [Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,]

      This passage stood out to me because of its message about how life and death are connected to nature. The earth is what nurtured humanity’s growth, taking from it to become stronger. In death humanity will go back to the earth as they are buried, thus returning what was taken from the earth in life. These two lines represent the link between nature and death as a complete cycle of life.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 25, 2018

      [for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile And eloquence of beauty, and she glides Into his darker musings]

      In these opening lines the appeal to emotion is indeed strong, with Nature speaking alternately to humanity’s “gayer hours” and “darker musings” as opposed to our powers of rational comprehension. Human anxiety about death, particularly, has an emotional dimension that frequently overwhelms our rational component, and it is this angst toward which Nature’s “teachings” are directed. As pointed out in recent class meetings, it turns out enlightenment materialism had little to offer human beings’ spiritual and moral needs. Bryant’s poem can be seen as a transitional utterance between Deism and the Romanticism of later writers such as Emerson and Thoreau.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on April 25, 2018

      “And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,

      Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—Go forth, under the open sky, and listTo Nature’s teachings”

      This section was my favorite because it makes a direct appeal to a certain type of person feeling a certain way. This seems to suggest a similar idea to some of the earlier readings that there can be information, or even just a feeling of comfort, found outside in nature. Some of the nature imagery comes off as almost universal. By this I mean that Bryant does not claim that certain things will show you a particular lesson, but rather that the entirety of the experience will result in some greater knowledge. In a way this poem seems to suggest that leaving the confines of human knowledge (leaving the dark, narrow house) can lead a person to more natural understandings. It almost suggests a shift in perspective from the person.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on April 25, 2018

      In the poem Thanatopsis, William Cullen Bryant describes nature as beautiful, trustworthy and warmth like a mother’s loving embrace. He states, “She has a voice of gladness, and a smile and eloquence of beauty.” He tells how the presence of nature has the magical power to accelerate the healing process because in it man-kind can find peace and serenity. Furthermore, he offers a positive perspective on the idea of death. He writes that nature can guide us in understanding the inevitable natural process of death and how we don’t need to fear it but embrace it. Bryant’s concept of deism glorifies nature and invalidates the influence of God in the human experience.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on April 25, 2018

      This poem brings to mind the mystical literature about death, love, and nature of romantic British poets such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Wordsworth. I think specifically of “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” with its sad sentiments and themes of nature. This poem seems to be as much a consideration of nature as it is an inspection of the very ground in which the human body comes from and goes back into the nature it is considering. In this section, William Cullen Bryant addresses the elements of the grave through the lens of nature, tending to the rock, clod, and roots, making sure to discuss the beauty of the ground while pointing to its dirtiness and mould. Providing attention to these details lends to the impact of the following lines, “Thou shalt lie down with the patriarchs of the infant world— with kings,” such that Bryant points to the equality in every human’s inevitable, dirty, death. All people, good and terrible, will die, and Bryant seems to maintain that every person will be sent to the very nature that will bring solace to those who remain among the living.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on April 26, 2018

      [In the full strength of years, matron, and maid, The bow’d with age, the infant in the smiles And beauty of its innocent age cut off,—]

      This section of William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” focuses on the inevitability of death and really stood out because it points out the one thing we all have in common: death. Everyone is simply striving to stay alive and we will all eventually die; this is the one thing every person – every creature – throughout all of history has had in common. Regardless of the differences we see in each other, we will all at some point, whether old or young, cease to exist. For me, this section was prominent because it reminded me of how inconsequential and simultaneously monumental each life is; the very fact that life exists at all is amazing. These lines contain a message that could easily represent the importance of tolerance for those that are different from yourself and the importance of helping others. We’re all on similar journeys upon the same planet –  we might as well work together.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on April 26, 2018

      [To mix for ever with the elements]

      I love this imagery. The theme and imagery expressed here is a good segway into the themes of the coming Romantic writers like Emerson and Thoreau. The emphasis on becoming closer nature shown here will become a focus in literature to come.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on April 27, 2018

      I also really loved this line. The Earth is the beginning and the end of the cycle of life, and that gets so overlooked in our day to day struggles. Nature and death are like you said, both important parts of the cycle of life. The connection being made in these two lines applies to most of what we have studied through the semester in this class. Even the puritans had themes of nature as a part of their beliefs. Nature and death are the two things that connect humanity because no human on Earth can avoid either one of these things. We will all die and become a part of nature once more, because that is how we began the cycle.

  • Personal Narrative (14 comments)

    • Comment by Elizabeth Daron on February 9, 2018

      This paragraph in Jonathan Edwards’s “Personal Narrative” showcases Ewards fall from Grace. It talks about he falls away from piety in that he “lost all those affections and delights and left off secret prayer”. Even when he felt he was punished by God and was sick to the point where he neared death and saw Hell, he would only change his sinning ways for a little bit. Before long, he would be back to sinning and not following God. I also believe the idea of carnal reasoning is apparent in this passage as Edwards gives in to his inward struggles and struggles of the flesh.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on February 10, 2018

      Very intriguing here how Edwards is mixing the older more antiquated concept of the Puritan Reflex (looking at nature and thinking of God) and evolving it into a new, deeper reflection of how God “seemed to appear in every thing”. This idea, one of God literally being present in every thing all around us in nature, will be later evolved into a movement known as Transcendentalism and developed by Emerson and Thoreau, but it is very interesting to see the seeds of such an idea as described here by Edwards.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 11, 2018

      Data Visualization of Edwards’ “Personal Narrative”

      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 11, 2018

      This paragraph feels familiar to the Puritan reflex we have discussed with previous authors. A lot of Edward Taylor’s imagery seems to allude to the Puritan reflex, but I enjoy this paragraph because the imagery is lovely. In the past readings, it seems as though we see small bits of imagery that don’t go  into detail; the author is holding back. But here, we see Taylor indulging in the “purity, brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the soul” that is inspired by nature. It is interesting to me to see such a small change in narrative and perspective, and how it makes a huge difference for the audience. It is as if Taylor is seducing his audience.

      Comment by Ries Cope on February 14, 2018

      This paragraph really grabbed my attention because Edwards is referring to himself at an earlier time as his past life. He is talking about how before he was “truly religious” he had lived “wickedly.” This is interesting to me because instead of accepting and forgiving yourself as we do today, he continues to reflect and remind himself how he broke his values before he even had them.  This reminds me a lot of the Puritans way of life and how they feel to receive God’s grace you have to follow their way for pretty much your entire life.  This passage is just really interesting to me and really shows how serious Edwards took his religion at this time.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on February 14, 2018

      An instance of natural typology is evident in this paragraph of Jonathan Edwards’ “Personal Narrative.” Edwards associates the beauty of the sky with God in the sentence “as I was walking there, and looking up on the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I know not how to express.” Other authors, such as Anne Bradstreet, have also made connections between nature, grace and God; this is a recurring theme in literature of this time and was an important theme in the lives of these individuals.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 15, 2018

      Interestingly, Edwards here refers to his preaching time in New York as an almost reborn kind of perception, as if he is so engulfed by God’s word and so consumed by prayer and righteousness that the temptations of fleshly sin are unable to tempt his human body away from the holiness of God’s word. He writes of being more holy, becoming more holy, almost as if a man striving after wealth. One must question whether he wanted to be holy for the sake of being a good person and doing the right thing for others, or if the desire to be holy stemmed from the desire to gain prominence in God’s favor. He does bring out though, that he had too great of a dependence on his own strength. The scriptures point to leaning on God, not man’s own understanding, which Edwards was clearly in his mind and heart not doing though it would seem his reliance on God was strong. Though throughout the piece the man never speaks of an act so bad that it would be deemed to be wicked, any step away or questioning of God’s will was clearly enough wickedness for Edwards to feel deserving of punishment. Throughout the entirety of this piece he goes from having strong convictions, to faltering, then being reborn, then faltering. It is a constant yo yo struggle for him and his beliefs make him question his entire life even though he does very little to be deserving of punishment from God.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on February 18, 2018

      This part of the piece really struck me as interesting due to the guilt Edward feels despite God’s grace. Edward was shockingly real in this piece, expressing not only his strong beliefs and convictions in God, but expressing the times of doubt and weakness as well. Here, Edward is feeling the guilt and resentment for his times of doubt. Edward states that, “I often felt a mourning and lamenting in my heart, that I had not turned to God sooner, that I might have had more time to grow in grace” (NAAL 469). I thought this was interesting, because despite the fact that God has already granted his grace to Edward, Edward still feels guilt over his fall from Grace.

      It’s also interesting to examine the differences that Edward feels regarding religion now as when he was a boy. Here, he says that, “The delights which I now felt in the things of religon, were of an exceeding different kind from those before mentioned, that I had when a boy…” (NAAL 469). It’s clear that Edwards delights he feels with religion here are genuine, as he was almost constantly in prayer, and enjoying solitary places to craft contemplations. When he was a boy, however, Edward states that, “I with some of my schoolmates joined together, and built a booth in a swamp, in a very retired spot, for a place of prayer” (Edward 466). When I initially read that, I thought it was humorous how Edward, like many young boys, has built a fort of sorts, and yet it’s for prayer. It seemed like Edward thought of religion and the things he gained from it as a bonding activity to do with schoolmates, and here it’s clear that he’s re-gained God’s grace and truly comprehends religion.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on February 21, 2018

      Edwards mixes a couple of interesting themes found in Puritan writing in this passage. Among the Puritan reflex and internal division, is that of introspection that is used here to testify for Edwards regarding the reinforcement of his faith. Namely, what drew my attention, was the description of the author’s response to thunderstorms. Edwards’ choice here to use the natural phenomena in correlation to the “true” changing of his mind to a purer kind of worship is a rather artful one. The likening of God’s power to a thunderstorm, or saying that He is the lightning and thunder, has been done before. However, the way that Edwards describes first his fear, insinuating that at first he was not worthy or not a true believer, and then his newfound love of the storm is a striking concept. The idea here, is that the author’s deeper and truer connection with God fundamentally changed him and the test of that is the absence of fear in the face of awesome power. It’s a rhetorically effective move on Edwards’ part, and I can imagine it also struck a chord with readers of his time.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on February 21, 2018




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      Jonathan Edwards’ constant introspection about sin reflects the Puritan ideology we have read previously. In “Personal Narrative” he sounds enthusiastic about expressing his feelings concerning his sinful ways. For instance, he states, “When I look into my heart and take a view of my wickedness it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell” (475). He is saying that he struggled with sin every day of his life while trying to make sense of God’s sovereignty. The closer Edwards gets from God through prayer and meditation, the more convicted of sin he felt. He realizes that forgiveness of sin is only by God’s love, mercy, and grace. He states that only God can search and reach to the deepest parts of the soul in the following quote. “But the piercing eye of God’s grace, that can pierce even down to such a depth, and to the bottom of such an abyss.” I sense an “I am so special to God” assurance here, knowing that the piercing eye of the Most Holy God was upon him ready to assist him stretching His mighty hand and pulling him up from the bottom of the darkest pit.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on February 21, 2018

      It sounds here that he was just trying to fix himself but instead, for a little while, fell back to doing harm. Even with God trying to guide him he seemed to struggle, that he devoted himself to finding a solution. Because he was so devoted, every obstacle took a huge blow, but he never wavered in his belief in the lord. But even with his belief, there was still questioning.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on February 21, 2018

      I really enjoyed this paragraph, where Edwards describes the longing that he feels for heaven, and the frustration he feels because “I could not express [what I felt within] as I desired”. This general feeling is evident in the works of Bradstreet and Taylor, specifically, but I feel that here Edwards explains it in a manner that previous writers struggled to. It goes back to the idea that the Puritans are ‘in the world yet not of it’ and are destined to ascend to Paradise to be with God after death. It is honestly very surprising to see such peace and contentment wrought simply from thinking about heaven and their eternity there, where “the saints could express their love to Christ”. Additionally, this extreme focus on the future helps put some of their more severe doctrines in perspective, since life on earth was just an afterthought in comparison with eternity and the Puritans clearly placed much less value on it.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 25, 2018

      I hope it is obvious that I was referencing Jonathan Edwards in my above comments, not Edward Taylor. The “Edwards/Edward” confused me.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on February 26, 2018

      I wonder, after reading this portion of Jonathan Edwards’s Personal Narrative, what exactly he thought his absolute and terrible wickedness entailed. He very obviously thinks that his is is the most vile of sins and that the sins of others is nothing in comparison. The only conclusion that I could feasibly come up with is the severe doubt that he initially harbored and his inability to devote himself completely to Christ as he mentions both earlier in the narrative and in this passage, “I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart, than ever I had before my conversion”. He comes back to this point several times throughout and it is never really elaborated on what he’s done to deserve such self-flagellation other than harbor doubts. Is this part of the Puritan ideology, to castigate yourself beyond reproach? I think his is on the extreme end of the scale that we’ve witnessed in prior readings.

  • Part II (13 comments)

    • Comment by Elizabeth Daron on March 15, 2018

      Franklin continues to separate religion and the church. Despite his religious background and education, “the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation… appeared to me unintelligible… and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect”. He takes a more deist approach, acknowledging that there is a God who created the Earth and there is life after death. Yet, he does not want religion to divide and he chooses not to attend church or the “public assemblies of the sect”.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on March 17, 2018

      In this passage, regarding religion, Franklin says “…I found them more or less mix’d with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv’d principally to divid us, and make us unfriendly to one another.” I can’t help but think of the attitude toward religion in the twenty-first century. Franklin describes it perfectly. Instead of respecting freedom of religion, we “divide” and become “unfriendly”. Also, in this paragraph, Franklin is illustrating individualism. When he says, “…I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my study day,” he is prioritizing personal knowledge over community piety. Though his Puritanical beliefs are  prominent, so are his Deistic beliefs.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on March 19, 2018

      This section of Franklin’s Autobiography emphasizes and illustrates several of the key terms/ideas that we’ve continuously discussed such as individualism, rationalism, and self-improvement. This passage particularly strikes me as very optimistic in approach and, even, a little morally self-righteous because he is so assured in his own ability to establish “moral perfection” through a vigorous application of daily introspection and diligent record keeping. He later admits to failing at his endeavors, quite spectacularly, and ruefully allows that no human can be morally perfect all the time.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 19, 2018

      [yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it]

      Note the presence of two significant concepts informing this episode: utility and compensation. In the preceding paragraph, Franklin finally accepted the failure of his endeavor for moral perfection by changing his approach and acknowledging the usefulness of having a few faults; it “keeps one’s friends in countenance,” thereby avoiding rifts and inconveniences among ones social connections. He also places value on the experience of trying to achieve a failed effort, acknowledging that he is a better and wiser man for having made the attempt. The experience itself compensates for the failure, contributing to Franklin’s development as a person in ways he did not anticipate, but which he nonetheless knows how to value appropriately.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on March 20, 2018

      This wonderfully crafted paragraph shares both the care and beauty of words used as well as the reference to internal balance and calmness of mind, body, and character. This shares the insight into history as science, naturalism, and professionalism now veer from spirituality into more of a historical and moral internal value. The notice of imperfection discovered in educational systems and reference to human behavior and human leaders shares a kind of humanistic growth on a more earthly scale as opposed to the former purely spiritual context of morality. This scientific and self respect regarding dignity and morality begins to share a less spiritual look to the presentation of oneself with a more quintessential need for honor gained through a highly respected moral standing and place in society.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on March 20, 2018

      I thought it was interesting that Franklin chose to list these moral virtues, as well as things he could do to bring the virtues into his own life. I believe that Franklin doing this shows the key term Self-Improvement. Franklin made this list of virtues in order to find ways to bring them into his own life—which he did below the name of each virtue. Franklin wants to bring these virtues into his life, as we can see when he says a couple paragraphs above, “I wish’d to live without committing any Fault at anytime; I would conquer all that either Natural Inclination, Custom or Company might lead me into” (NAAL 591). It’s clear here that Franklin strives for a better moral being than that he has. Franklin wants to improve himself morally. However, Franklin doesn’t just list things he can do to improve himself and leave it at that. He goes on to track his Temperance on page 593 in the book, as well as tracking what good he’d do that day on page 597. While listing the ways in which Franklin can be more virtuous in his own life shows his desire for self-improvement, I think the fact that he goes on to track how well he’s doing further shows that Franklin is committed to becoming a more virtuous person. 

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 21, 2018

      This last paragraph stood out to me because I think it displays Franklin’s vanity about himself. The last lines state very clear he is “proud of [his] humility”. I find it ironic that he has to comment on his own humility. Commenting on it seems to send the opposite message; that he really is not as humble as he states. I don’t necessarily find it rhetorically effective or ineffective, but it was an interesting observation I made.


      Comment by Mikaela Twait on March 22, 2018

      I also think this paragraph is very intriguing. Franklin seems far ahead of his times when he expresses that he desires to “avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion”. I think that this kind of good-hearted and respectful consideration of others and their views is sorely lacking in our society today, as you mentioned, on both sides of these kinds of arguments. I also think your point on the equal care Franklin takes of his Puritan and Deistic beliefs, realizing the legitimacy and usefulness of both of them. He wants to “respect…all” and works his best to avoid confrontations with others like he had in the Socratic method episode or the print shop conflict.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 22, 2018


      I also enjoyed the language used in this paragraph. This is a big change from what we have read thus far. While prior reading focus more on the deistic elements of morality, and not so much human history or error, because all human error was attributed to deistic interference. It is more refreshing in my opinion, to read something like this because it feels more like accountability is being taken on human mistakes and blunders. I would agree with you that the pointing out of these errors in education and behaviors in society shows human growth from what we have read previously.

      Comment by Elizabeth Daron on April 20, 2018

      Steven Forde contemplates how Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography is used as a tool to educate the people of America in regard to the importance of reasonability in developing morality. Franklin recounts that he, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than [he] had imagined.” Franklin’s ability to notice the difficulty and rarity of reaching moral perfection leads Forde to acknowledge the role that reasonability plays. Forde notices that, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate” (359). They are deliberate in the sense that Franklin uses the “loopholes” to show that one must also be reasonable when striving for moral perfection. Forde notes that, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it” (360). By accounting for reasonability, virtue and morality can be more strongly developed.
      Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on April 26, 2018

      In his article “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God” William Pencak discusses Franklin’s role as a prototype for the new American populace in both spiritual and ethical practices. Pencak argues against critics who deem Franklin’s lifestyle being too morally ambiguous or that it was lacking in terms of clearly structured faith or practice. The author states that, “Although Franklin ceased to attend public worship regularly in the 1730’s, he proved a true successor of the Puritans in that he separated from the corruptions of the world around him to practice his own religion” (11). In this way, Pencak argues, Franklin exhibits the kind of individual sovereignty that was necessary for all of the newly fledged Americans to take heed of at the time. It was Franklin’s discovery and knowledge that, “existent churches were insufficiently concerned with the essence of true religion” (12), Penak writes, that caused him to withdraw from organized religion and to form his own personal sect of faith. This evolution from classic styles of Puritan worship was still marked by the belief in providence, and to a certain extent God’s will, but it was also in possession of the certainty that man was not wholly comprised of sin. Franklin’s rational outlook on the matter accepted the idea that man was fallible and capable of making and, if willing and inclined to do so, of correcting certain flaws within their characters. 

      Work Cited

      Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.

      Comment by Ries Cope on April 27, 2018

      According to William Pencak, author of “Benjamin Franklin’s Biography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God,” in this paragraph, Franklin is defending the stakes on which he wrote his autobiography, as well as defending his own morality. Franklin was very dedicated to his moral standing with himself and God and went through extreme measures to ensure that he would end up on the ‘right’ side of things. This particular passage is about the ‘justification of his book’ which ‘illustrates an important philosophical point: the need for ideal principles, realized in practice, to subdue “Natural Inclination,” as well as the bad effects of, “Custom and Company” (Pencak 8). The ‘artifice’ that Franklin describes represents the civilization of people that he is surrounded by and he believes that they should be informed of his knowledge, life, and commitment to God. Franklin didn’t believe that being religious meant attending church, donating to pastors, or things alike. It was about believing in God, Praying honestly, and being virtuous. Throughout this autobiography, Franklin defends and justifies his beliefs and morality.


      Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on April 27, 2018

      This passage is very focused on individualism, Franklin seems to be looking at the better things in his life instead of focusing on the negative. He doesn’t dwell on the idea that he wish he lived life without committing fault instead he touches on it and shifts into how he’s basically glad with how he’s lived life. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” Steven Forde presents the idea that Franklin Autobiography should be used as a model of developing good character and morals. Franklin states, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than he had imagined.” Forde believes, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate”. The loopholes represent another idea, that being that when striving for greater morality the individual must also take all aspects of life in consideration and be reasonable. Forbes introduces another idea, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it”.
      Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.

  • Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (13 comments)

    • Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on April 17, 2018

      Something that really struck me in this paragraph was the imagery and description of nature. The schoolhouse is described, but it’s described in more than just the four walls. Irving describes the surroundings as well, when he says, “The schoolhouse stood…just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close by, and a formidable birch-tree growing at one end of it” (Irving). It’s interesting that Irving chooses to describe the surroundings of the schoolhouse along with the schoolhouse. I don’t want to say that it’s unusual, as many stories do this, however, it does say something about where Irving wants his readers focus to be on. It’s apparent that he wants the focus of the readers to be on the nature surrounding the school house just as much as in the schoolhouse itself. Irving paints a vivid picture for his readers of the setting. The key term of nature continues on throughout the story as a prominent term.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on April 18, 2018

      [His appetite for the marvellous, and his powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been increased by his residence in this spell-bound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow.]

      This passage stood out to me because it encompasses what seems to be a large portion of Ichabod’s character, not just his appetite for the supernatural. Ichabod is a greedy person, he stays with the families of the children he teaches, which could almost be forgiven considering the small amount of pay he gets from being a teacher, except he also makes money by teaching people to sing meaning he has two sources of income. His incessant need to gorge on food is another greedy aspect of Ichabod, along with his desire to possess Katrina Van Tassel and her family’s estate (which he thinks about making money off of). I can’t help but feel like the end of the story is partly a warning about the dangers of wanting too much and not being happy with what you have.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on April 21, 2018

      [She was withal a little of a coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off her charms.]

      Like he does here with his description of Katrina, and in many other instance between this piece and “Rip Van Winkle” I find it very interesting how Irving uses characterization and description, particularly in dress, to portray character’s leanings in ideology between the antiquated past and the contemporary. Irving uses his character descriptions to bring the topic and influence of cultural change to the forefront of his stories. It is one the many examples of Irving’s expert use of symbolism.

      Comment by Hannah Pettibone on April 23, 2018

      Throughout the whole story, there are a lot of details–giving the readers vivid images of the scenes in their heads. He describes the environments in particular situations in a way to emphasize and bring attention to certain things. Irving did an excellent job in bringing a focus to the surrounding rather than just the characters. 

      Comment by Anne Albertson on April 23, 2018

      This paragraph has some interesting descriptions to it which happen to be describing the natives of sleepy hollow. It explains the sort of bewitched nature that the natives inhabit. They began to be more imaginative, they dreamt great dreams, and they see apparitions. Its interesting that it tells readers that the natives became natives because after they entered sleepy hollow, even if wide awake, they inhaled the bewitched air and nature of the hollow and slowly fell captive to it. These facts are important to include so that readers understand that the natives became the natives simply because they could not leave.

      Comment by Erin McManis on April 23, 2018

      Right off the bat Irving uses great work of setting. I immediately know where I am when he mentions the Hudson. Also you can just imagine what time period we are in and what you could see, with the women at the market and the men lingering about on these days. The quiet place among the hills, with peaceful sights and soft sound, only two miles away is in nice contrast to the small market town. I think that it is a great way to start this story off.

      Comment by Ries Cope on April 23, 2018

      Hi Anne, at first I didn’t realize what Irving was saying here but once you pointed it out I found it extremely interesting. It’s interesting how they are natives considering they had to arrive there. “is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time” are then considered the natives. The description is a little confusing at first, but once noticed is like you said interesting.

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on April 23, 2018

      I thought this section was interesting. I especially loved the way he described her. He described her body before anything else. He says she is, “plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked as one of her father’s peaches.” Later in this paragraph, he goes on to say, “…withal a provokingly short petticoat, to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the country round.” It is just interesting to me that in both pieces we have read from Irving, he is very descriptive in what the woman looks like, but not so much anything else about her.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on April 23, 2018

      [ A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater depth to the dark gray and purple of their rocky sides. A sloop was loitering in the distance, dropping slowly down with the tide, her sail hanging uselessly against the mast; and as the reflection of the sky gleamed along the still water, it seemed as if the vessel was suspended in the air.]

      Right before this, there is a happier and lighter description of the nature surrounding Ichabod on his venture to Old Van Tassel’s home. Like in “Rip Van Winkle” we are presented with two different scenes of nature that represent two different things. The decriptions to follow become darker and less jolly when addressing nautre; they essentially creat that visual representation of something dark to come. For Ichabod, it will be his supernatural expereince. The darkness we are presented with is only a glimpse but sets up the dark nature that will later be described during the supernatural and frightening encounter Ichabod encounters.


      Comment by Ky Alexander on April 23, 2018

      It seems that Washington Irving begs the question, “did Ichabod have it coming?” From the beginning, this newcomer brings in change, the school, and commercialism, seeking the riches of the young woman’s father. This passage shows the climax of Ichabod’s end, even as he is about to perish, he thinks about losing his saddle. He has coveted riches, and Irving seems to show that this represents an enforcement of negative materialistic change on an old world. Further on in the passage, safety from the headless man is just in sight, will he make it to this church, which likely also symbolizes past times lost, or will he be the victim of self-destruction?
      The loss of Ichabod may not have been because of a goblin at all, but because of his rival, who ended up with Katrina, quite a suspicious ending. While I do think that this story serves as lesson about avoiding the perils of materialistic pitfalls, the lovely prose shows that Irving has something bigger to share. I think this passage in particular demonstrates that Irving is addressing the power of fear, the ultimate lesson may be that fear is what guides humanity.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on April 23, 2018

      The introduction to the Headless Horseman is intriguing without giving too much information away. The reader is enlightened as to what the story will focus on but is left with still more questions in regard to the “Hessian trooper.” Irving’s use of mythology is clear in this paragraph, especially; a headless horseman is impossible and clearly the work of supernatural forces. He’s introducing the mystical but still combing it with nature. “Sleepy Hollow” is far more mythological just from the beginning than “Rip” but even this story emphasizes the grandeur of nature in a godlike way.

      Comment by Mikaela Twait on April 23, 2018

      As others have stated in other comments, I think that the amount of detail that Irving puts into his writing is fantastic. He is able to create an almost tangible story scene into his reader’s heads and allow them to have an almost immersive experience in his story. The details that he includes are purposeful and never extend into Dickens-esque superfluity, though this paragraph and the ones that follow it are full of descriptions of the wooded areas and the road that Ichabod finds himself amidst. I think that this type of writing echoes back to the significance of detail in previous writers we have studied, namely Brockden Brown’s use of description to create an emotional and even physical response in his readers. Here, we can see the same technique occur as Irving blows a chill air through the forest he puts his readers in that makes the hairs on the backs of their necks stand straight up.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on April 24, 2018

      [while the great torrent of migration and improvement]

      The term “torrent” here is also present in Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” where we saw it applied to the stream that had appeared in the ravine after Rip’s twenty-year sleep. Recall that it represented an obstacle in his efforts to return to the scene of (he thought) the preceding night. Unaware that two decades had past, Rip’s confusion and bewilderment are re-invoked here in Irving’s reference to “the great torrent of migration and improvement” that are transforming America–introducing “incessant changes” chiefly embodied in the story by Ichabod Crane and his appetite for wealth–mainly in the form of easy cash.

  • from <i>Images or Shadows of Divine Things</i> (10 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 11, 2018

      Data Visualization on Edwards’ “Images or Shadows of Divine Things”

      Comment by Alyssa Coffman on February 14, 2018

      This whole passage was super interesting to me, but the Roses section was my favorite. He makes it clear that while he is appreciating how beautiful roses are, he is also talking about Christ. I think he makes it clear that he will always attribute the beauty of nature to God. I especially liked this section because at the end he talks about how on the rose bush, the thorns grow before anything else, and then the roses grow. He is saying that even beautiful things can come from terrible things.

      Comment by Natalie Tyler on February 15, 2018

      Alyssa, I agree with your comment. The metaphors that come with a rose have always been interesting to me. They can mean so many different things. I think this goes along perfectly with the story in the Bible of how Christ had to die for the forgiveness of all sins and so that all of humanity has the opportunity to go to heaven. Edwards symbolizes how the thorns, or the death of Jesus is what saved us and gave us this beautiful flower. It is the perfect example of a Puritan piece of literature.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 15, 2018

      What a shockingly developed piece of prose that transitions from a kind of praise into an almost contradiction of itself in a warning to make the descent, to put in the effort, to deal with the sweat and hardship, because laziness and lack of discipline, that being strict observance of God’s word, leads only to heartache and despair in the “valley’s” or “hell.” To Edward’s knowledge, the way to heaven which is here likened as a mountain or hill, is not accomplished easily, but rather with much “hardship…self-denial (and) labor.” He then goes on to describe water, found within the crevice of valleys underneath mountains, is a symbol of misery, and refers to scripture making this tie in of water being tied to with the wrath of God. It is interesting as well, that he does refer to water as he does in his next piece, “rivers,” however he titles the piece “Hills and Mountains” showing his mind and heart are pointed up to the rewards of heaven rather than the temptations of the valley, or hell.

      Comment by Kiah Lowe on February 21, 2018

      This passage reminded me of Bradstreet’s thoughts in “Contemplations” in that both authors bring about the idea of cohesiveness through the comparison of people joining together and heading towards God as rivers meeting up and rushing to the sea. However, Edwards takes his comparison a little further by reminding readers that “all the rivers together, great and small, together with all the brooks and little streams, can’t raise the waters of the ocean in the least degree”, in other words, God does not benefit from uniting with humanity since He is already great, only humanity has something to gain by being with Him.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 21, 2018

      Edwards is giving us a kind of “natural typology” in this work, finding evidence of Christian ideas in the natural world through correspondent types, just as the Puritan reader of Scripture looks for the repetition of Biblical types in human events. In response to Deistic arguments that Nature should replace the Bible as a source of truth and values, Edwards seeks to align nature with Scripture as a means for bolstering traditional Christian faith.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on February 22, 2018

      When you say beautiful things come from terrible things it make me reference some ideas that i got from the passages in “Beauty of the World”. The last passage talked about how the people would rather live in pain and suffering than lose the beauty of the world that God created for them and i think that ties rather perfectly to your thought that beautiful things can come from terrible things. Perhaps their situation might night be ideal and that could be the thorns; the struggles and hardships but the roses are the beauty around them if they keep believing in God’s grace and presence beauty will grow from the thorns and not only will lives be better but the world will still be just as beautiful.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on February 25, 2018

      The imagery in this paragraph is so simple yet paints a beautiful truth. The correlation between a rose growing upon brairs and bearing all things for christ is very simply introduced. The idea that beauty can can come from even the ugliest of places is very hope inspiring which is what Christ was, inspiring, and was a symbol of hope for humanity. The roses symbolize new hope from the ruins or destruction and it becomes in the end there is Christ similar to the Roses growing from the brains.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on February 26, 2018

      In this section, Jonathan Edwards creates a lovely metaphor of the roots, trunk, branches, and fruit of the tree as a representation of Christ, God, and those who follow him. There are a few salient aspects from this section that were unique and meaningful, putting faith in a new light and making faith in Christ easier to comprehend for the reader. First, Christ as the trunk of the tree and the people as the branches could not be easier to understand, the savior Christ is the stability of believers, he is the strength that his people can rely on. Second, the metaphor of the winters being difficult for the branches and the fruit. One could connect winters to the difficult times that colonizers have encountered and how they maintained it made their faith stronger, symbolized by the summers, where the tree flourishes. Finally, the old testament is represented by the roots of the tree, where the roots underground are unseen but still serve the purpose of the beginning phase of the God’s plan. In this metaphor Abraham and David planted the tree so that God could then lift the “veil” on his plan for Christ’s deliverance.

      Comment by Paige Hatch on March 3, 2018

      The imagery here is beautiful mixed in with some more melancholy rhetoric in order to paint a bigger picture of the way that things are not always all good, or all bad. By contrast, most everything in life has both bad and good qualities. To me, this part is is an analogy how in life, you have to take the good with the bad, and be able to recognize the good as works of god and his absolute sovereignty. This paragraph also exemplifies the concept that beautiful things come from labor. This seems to go along with the concept that Marry Rowlandson discusses in her captivity narrative about “reaping the fruit of good labor”.

  • The Beauty of the World (8 comments)

    • Comment by Noelle Johansen on February 8, 2018

      This paragraph by Edwards is a perfect example of the Puritan reflex and themes of nature for turning towards God. Edwards focuses on the “wonderful suitableness of green for the grass and plants, the blues of the sky, the white of the clouds, the colors of flowers” and “how much of a resemblance” there is between all of this beautiful nature and the “superior cause, preserver, benevolent benefactor, and fountain of happiness” that is God. He not only discusses how beautiful nature is, but how happy the other animals and creatures are to live there. I think this is especially important to note in a time where science was progressing to the point where people didn’t believe in the power of God as much as they used to, but Edwards and other Puritans still focused greatly on the wonders of nature and God’s absolute sovereignty.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 11, 2018

      Data Visualization on Edwards’ “The Beauty of the World”

      Comment by Jessica campbell on February 15, 2018

      Here we see the truth and a rare occasion which a Puritan would reason with all mankind as they of course prefer to refer to primarily the brethren deserving of praise due to their devout beliefs in Christianity. When he refers to many men being “miserable” but seeming content he relates that to the beauty God has bestowed on all creation through his lovely natural beauty within the world. The last sentence is also interesting because he brings out we would rather live in pain and misery than lose. This could be referring to the difficult state of life at the time, it could be relating to the supposed misery of those not under the Umbrella of God’s care, or it could be referring to a life of a slavery to God’s word in order to hope that the beauty will be there as a reward for the inflicted punishments.

      Comment by Jorge Lopez on February 15, 2018

      I agree with that, I enjoy the idea thats presented, men who are miserable love life. They hold onto it and make the best of it because its the only hope they have. Taking the time to smell the roses and enjoy the little things is what keeps humanity grounded and what makes all the struggles worth it. the idea that there is beauty in simplicity and in nature helps overcome the bad. The last line I found brilliant! It is so true, we would rather hurt and live in pain than to not feel nothing at all.

      Comment by Jacob Addonizio on February 21, 2018

      Edwards seems like such a sweet guy in this text (especially when compared to “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”). This paragraph tries to explain why mankind thinks of certain things as beautiful. One thing that stands out here is the contrast between Edwards and some of the other Puritans (like Bradstreet) who saw admiring these beauties as a poor thing. Edwards even mentions Sir Isaac Newton in this paragraph in a positive, reference-like way. It is also interesting how he follows up this paragraph with the next section where he states that men appear miserable “because they cannot bear to lose sight of such a beautiful and lovely world”. I’m sure Edwards sees these beauties through a similar lens to Bradstreet, but even the small differences in his ideas and the way he expresses them are very telling of the change that happened between the two texts.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on February 22, 2018

      I love what both of you pointed out. I think this is a great passage in the since that it very clearly shows that if you cant hold onto anything else, and when all else seems to be miserable there is always beauty in life and something to appreciate. God created such beauty and placed man in it so they should, if nothing else, embrace the beauty of the “lovely world” even if it means living in “pain and misery”.

      Comment by Aleida Luna on February 24, 2018




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      I agree. In “The Beauty of the World” Jonathan Edwards expresses his delight and appreciation of beauty from a fresh perspective. When he talks about beauty, he does not pretend to have all the answers as he did in his other famous writings. He humbly states, “We find ourselves pleased in beholding the color of the violets, but we know not what secret regularity or harmony it is that creates that pleasure in our minds.” In this particular passage, he chooses something so simple as the color of violets to introspect about the beauty of the soul and the positive effect it provokes in the human mind. He moves away from the Puritan struggle, and internal division “nature is beautiful, but it’s of the world.”

      Comment by Erin McManis on February 26, 2018

      This is a great example of the continuing trust in god for him to watch over them and let the world continue as he sees fit. This is absolute sovereignty, we accept his power and glory as he wishes to show us and we are allowed to see it because we trust him.

  • John Smith, from <i>A Description of New England</i> (8 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 9, 2018

      [Heer nature and liberty affords vs that freely]

      This is the earliest reference to political liberty we will find in Anglo-American colonization, and the statement could stand as the basic thesis for most of Smith’s writings about the New World.  Note that it is not just the abundance of natural resources in America nor alone the opportunity for individual freedom there, but the unprecedented combination of these two factors, that makes colonization a potentially transformative experience–transformative to  the individual, and transformative to western social progress.  This is one of the unique viewpoints that Smith (not a member of the privileged classes in England) brings to early literature about New World opportunity.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on January 10, 2018

      Data Visualization for Smith’s Description of New England.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on January 10, 2018

      You can hear the plea and adventurous spirit in John Smith’s request here that all able come to this new land.  It ties in with the beginning paragraph asking if life is only about eating sleeping and working. He is showing that here is an opportunity for wealth and success and adventure in New England.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on January 10, 2018

      Yes, and it is affective! This is directed more to the under privileged, and it catered with opportunity to them. An opportunity for a better life for them and their families, a way of starting over in a place where they have a chance at success.

      Comment by Marie Gentle on January 10, 2018

      I agree with both of you, it is very effective. It is also beautifully written. However I would argue that while he asserts that he isn’t trying to persuade people to leave their loved ones, he makes life in the new colony sound appealing for its supposed abundance of everything. He fails or neglects to point out how tenuous and difficult it will be in the beginning. He does mention that work needs to take place but he also makes it sound as if the work load is eased and that it would be less difficult to live in the new colony. In a way, he’s correct. There is open space (that someone else lives on) and there are rivers and land full of plant and animal life that could sustain them (as it does the indigenous people). What he glosses over, though, is that most people won’t have as much experience starting from scratch and having to learn agricultural and other necessary skills required to get to a life of ease that he so rosily paints.

      Comment by Kayla Smith on January 10, 2018

      “Not to perswade them to goe onely; but goe with them: Not leaue them there; but liue with them there.”

      Smith uses many techniques by which to encourage others to make the incredible journey to the New World. One of these, as seen in paragraph four, is the concept of leading by example. The play on Ethos, Smith’s ability to say that he would be with those that were taking the risk, was no doubt effective in convincing uncertain travelers. By stating this, Smith also achieves a sense of camaraderie with his audience that might not have been as believable or plausible if it were coming from someone in the privileged classes.

      Comment by Ky Alexander on January 10, 2018

      Here, John Smith’s view of the rising future of the New World is exemplified plainly in his recruitment language, directed at marginalized English people. In the second to last paragraph, Smith summarizes the trade based economy he has been describing throughout the piece, where people are their own merchants, taking their riches not from money but through the things they grow and make, he says these things, “may be had and cost nothing but labor.” This language may be quite persuasive to his target population. If rising above the poverty is as simple as moving to the New World and growing turnips, for example, then those people may jump at the chance to colonize. Finally, Smith claims that, through the process of colonization, people will develop trades, with the ability to take on apprentices, surmising that “The masters by this may quickly grow rich.” Tempting as this may be for an impoverished person to rise above their current state, it seems that Smith proposes a world where the economy of England at this time, based in employers and servants, is simply moved to North America under the guise of what would come to be known as the American Dream.

      Comment by Kylie Ruble on January 10, 2018

      Here Smith is stating that there is no guarantee that they will succeed but he has little doubt that they will. He claims that after a year, those that have paid their cost of support are free to leave if they are unhappy with the circumstances; but Smith is confident that they will want to stay when they discover the wealth available to them in New England. I found it very interesting that he explicitly states that he knows a commonwealth will never be built for any motive other than wealth. By saying this he adds conviction to his claims that New England is rich in resources and opportunities for people to build prosperous lives.

  • "A Divine and Supernatural Light" (6 comments)

    • Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on February 11, 2018

      Data Visualization on Edwards’ “A Divine and Supernatural Light”

      Comment by Noelle Johansen on February 16, 2018

      This paragraph discussing the effects of “spiritual light” reminded me of the theme of the elect in early Puritan literature. I felt like the themes of being chosen directly by God and having a heightened spiritual and emotional experience because of it were especially prevalent in this paragraph. While it doesn’t directly discuss what constitutes someone who is among the elect versus someone who is not, it definitely draws upon the themes that some people are more spiritually in tune with God than others. “There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing; but there is a sense of the loveliness of God’s holiness.” Those who have achieved this spiritual light are more likely to understand God and his teachings more fully, and their testimony will be something similar to the early Puritans who had to share their faith and elect-proving experience with the congregation. While there isn’t a direct reference to this theme, I felt like it definitely gave the reader a sense that those who were given the spiritual light were more worthy of understanding God than others.

      Comment by Erica Moyer on February 22, 2018

      Edwards points out a lot of information starting with what the Divine light isnt an then describing what is it. He points out that truth is not something that man can come upon himself and that God only places that knowledge there. He says in his improvements that God can basically pick anyone of any means and in any place in life to bestow his knowledge on. He also seems to be claiming that all people should search to see if such wisdom has been bestowed upon them and if they had the divine light within them. Edwards also states that the divine light should be searched for because of all of its greatness and what it can do and what it means. It is a holy thing and Edwards is stressing the importance of searching for the truth and how important the truth was in their lives.

      Comment by Hillary Colton on February 25, 2018

      Jonathan Edwards was smart, in my opinion; he was persuasive. He used mechanics, systems of operation, and society to draw a parallel to grace. He used words like “opinion”, and “rational judgement” to connect the fast approaching changes in the world around him. Edwards doesn’t directly reference it, but God’s providence is weaved throughout this piece; it is because of the individual’s grace along with God’s, that there is rationality. “When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to this soul.” As Edwards argues, there is a difference between simply knowing, and being. It is because of God that knowledge is shared, but the individual must be “heartily sensible”. Here, and in many other Puritan writings,  God’s providence and grace must interweave. If an individual wants knowledge, he must uphold grace. One must be grace, versus know grace.

      Comment by Melissa Nitzkowski on February 27, 2018

      I found this paragraph particularly interesting, as it talked about the different types of God’s grace. Edwards states that, “…some sinners have a greater conviction of their guilt and misery than others…” (NAAL 479). Edward’s idea that sinning is not necessarily innate–that we are more or less aware of our sinning–is a new idea in our readings. While it doesn’t directly contradict the idea of innate depravity, I think it relates to it in that we can be aware of and prevent some of our sins. Furthermore, Edwards brings up the idea that there is two types of grace–common and special grace. Edwards states that, “Common grace differs from special in that it influences only by assisting of nature, and not by imparting grace, or bestowing anything above nature” (NAAL 479). Prior to this reading, I don’t recall God’s grace being segregated–there was just God’s grace. However, Edwards segregates them here and defines Common grace, which goes hand in hand with nature. It’s cool that Edwards brings up some relatively new ideas here and takes a new take on sinning and God’s grace.

      Comment by Denise Holbrook on February 28, 2018

      In this online edition we are missing the subtitle which our text shows to be: IMMEDIATELY IMPARTED TO THE SOUL BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, SHOWN TO BE BOTH A SCRIPTURAL AND RATIONAL DOCTRINE.

      This subtitle stuck with me throughout my reading of the text for two reasons. The first part of this title says that the information in the following sermon is “imparted to the soul” by the speaker (Edwards). This stands out to me because it is a reference to that conversion experience that Puritans rely on to validate their worthiness and election for salvation. The second part of this title asserts the sermon to be evidence of a “scriptural and rational doctrine”. This assertion is clearly a reaction against the Newtonian Science of the time period. In the sermon Edwards strives to disspell notions that his beliefs are invalidated by science, and actually rather supported instead. Edwards describes the differences between opinion versus sense and leans upon this concept to legitimize his claim to the rationality of belief.

  • Thomas Jefferson, Original Draft of "The Declaration of Independence" (5 comments)

    • Comment by Noelle Johansen on March 1, 2018

      I think this paragraph is essential for understanding the difference between Puritan ideals and Deistic values. Puritans didn’t really focus on the rights of men here on Earth due to their focus on spirituality and the afterlife. Rights weren’t a priority because even if the rights that Jefferson lays out here were violated, the Puritans would have viewed it as a just act from God to either punish you for your sins or challenge you to bring you closer to God. However, deists like Jefferson focused on the material life and how our actions influence others here on Earth. This paragraph is the beginning of a long list of “abuses and usurpations” by King George that he views as contrary to the natural laws that God established for the world to live by. Jefferson says that men are “endowed by their creator with inherent and certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness,” and the ways in which these are protected are through governments that are instituted according to the basic laws and ideas of the creator. I think this paragraph is key to understanding the basic ideas of deism and the differences between deism and puritanism.

      Comment by Jessica campbell on March 4, 2018

      I feel like too often, and particularly in a piece like this, the beginning can sometimes be overlooked due to the impact and hard hitting inertia of the rest of the piece. However, the beginning must be tasteful, tactful, and bridge into the effectiveness of the piece, which I think deserves special attention. He calls to the unity of people, and to the common goal of respect for all, and everyone’s opinions. The choice of word with “opinion” particularly struck me, because it appeals to everyone no matter their opinion in a plea for togetherness as mankind. The use of the word respect is also important, these words are impactful in that they implore to all in order for attention to be grabbed and for calmness to enter minds and hearts before going into one of the most important documents in American History.

      Comment by Kayla Haley on March 5, 2018

      I particularly enjoy this piece of work. When looking at the book in our Norton Anthology I like to look at the underlined words have the original words off to the right-hand side. Using a passive-aggressive tone, I find it interesting to compare his draft to the published draft because some of the words or phrases used can completely change the meaning or the way the text is perceived. The things he wanted to say were not implemented in the final draft. However, he purposely adds his draft to show the things that he wanted to voice. For example, there were multiple paragraphs taken out that showed that he was against slavery.  The rhetorical effectiveness of the piece is due to his honesty and strong tone.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 6, 2018

      Nice points, Jessica.  Note here the emphasis on human history and affairs rather than on Biblical doctrine, and the assumption that a clear declaration of the colonists’ rationale for separating from Britain can be communicated to the understanding and satisfaction of foreign nations.  The scenario is one of human beings working together to solve their problem of government for mutual betterment. The spotlight is on worldly affairs and prospects for fulfillment, not on the judgment day and the afterlife–a clear break from traditional religious priorities that have characterized most of our readings up to now.

      Comment by Doc Olsen-Smith on March 15, 2018

      Data visualization for Jefferson’s Draft of the Declaration.

Source: http://solsensmith.com/375readings/all-comments/