The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era

Overview

Multidisciplinary views of Calvinism's dynamic, diverse, and persistent influence on modern American literature and thought.

Many of America's philosophical, social, and religious traditions are founded upon Calvinist beliefs, and that heritage inevitably permeates our literature, too. While the debt of 18th- and 19th-century writers to Calvinism as theological doctrine and secular ideology has already been well documented, this collection of ...

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Overview

Multidisciplinary views of Calvinism's dynamic, diverse, and persistent influence on modern American literature and thought.

Many of America's philosophical, social, and religious traditions are founded upon Calvinist beliefs, and that heritage inevitably permeates our literature, too. While the debt of 18th- and 19th-century writers to Calvinism as theological doctrine and secular ideology has already been well documented, this collection of essays traces Calvinism's presence in 20th-century literature and demonstrates its impact as psychological construct, cultural institution, and socio-political model. From Pound to Faulkner, Eliot to Wharton, modern American poets, novelists, and film-makers of different religious, ethnic, and regional backgrounds have breathed in the Calvinist atmosphere. With fresh illuminations of the works of Marianne Moore, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Elizabeth Bishop, Kate Chopin, and others, this book cuts across disciplines, periods, and genres to examine the presence of such Calvinist concepts as election, conversion experiences, duty, sexual repression, and apocalypse. The editors conclude that, rather than being a monolithic force, Calvinism has "instead been dynamic, as different writers redefine and restructure it to fit their purposes and beliefs."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874518078
  • Publisher: University Press of New England
  • Publication date: 5/1/1997
  • Pages: 347

Meet the Author

Aliki Barnstone is Assistant Professor of English at Bucknell University. Michael Tomasek Manson is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Carol J. Singley is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Designs on History: Ezra Pound, the Puritans, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies 3
T. S. Eliot's Calvinist Modernism 20
"Inherited Puritanism": The Legacy of Calvinism in the Fiction of William Dean Howells 36
The Modernist Conversion of Willa Cather's Professor 53
Grace, Good Works, and the Hemingway Ethic 73
Sites of Struggle: Marianne Moore and American Calvinism 91
Awe, Wonder, and Wit: Elizabeth Bishop and the Modernization of Calvinist Mood 107
Puritan Legacies of Masculinity: John Berryman's Homage to Mistress Bradstreet 125
Mastering the Master: Emily Dickinson's Appropriation of Crisis Conversion 145
Calvinist Tortures in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome 162
Un-Utterable Longing: The Discourse of Feminine Sexuality in Kate Chopin's The Awakening 181
The Fatherlode: Ellen Glasgow's Religious Inheritance 198
Apocalypse Now and the New England Way 212
New Jerusalems: Contemporary Jewish American Poets and the Puritan Tradition 231
The "Dark and Abiding Presence" in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Toni Morrison's Beloved 250
Poetry and Masculinity on the Anglo/Chicano Border: Gary Soto, Robert Frost, and Robert Hass 263
"Communism Is Twentieth-Century Americanism": Proletarian Poetry and the Puritan Tradition 281
Works Cited 297
Contributors 315
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