Female Piety in Puritan New England: The Emergence of Religious Humanism

Overview

A synthesis of literary critical and historical methods, Porterfield's book combines insightful analysis of Puritan theological writings with detailed examinations of historical records showing the changing patterns of church membership and domestic life. She finds that by conflating marriage as a trope of grace with marriage as a social construct, Puritan ministers invested relationships between husbands and wives with religious meaning. Images of female piety represented the humility that Puritans believed led ...

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Overview

A synthesis of literary critical and historical methods, Porterfield's book combines insightful analysis of Puritan theological writings with detailed examinations of historical records showing the changing patterns of church membership and domestic life. She finds that by conflating marriage as a trope of grace with marriage as a social construct, Puritan ministers invested relationships between husbands and wives with religious meaning. Images of female piety represented the humility that Puritans believed led all Christians to self-control and, ultimately, to love. But while images of female piety were important for men primarily as aids to controlling aggression and ambition, they were primarily attractive to women as aids to exercising indirect influence over men and obtaining public recognition and status.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An excellent brief...interdisciplinary study."—American Studies

"Well-researched and very readable. The inclusion of biographical narrative enlivens the era for the reader."—Rosalie Beck, Baylor University

"Makes for absorbing reading."—ADRIS Newsletter

"Porterfield provides some interesting readings of texts by major New England authors....[She] examines some compelling issues."—Journal of American History

"Will be of interest to specialists in Puritanism, spirituality, and women's religious experience. Especially impressive is Porterfield's ability to treat 17th-century Puritan experience as part of a larger story."—Choice

"Bursting with insight and...elegantly rendered in prose....An excellent example of how scholarship that is attentive to gender can reveal a new world even in the well-charted history of seventeenth-century Puritanism."—Church History

"This study is well worth reading—and thinking about—especially for students of American Puritanism."—Christianity & Literature

"There is much that is helpful and rewarding about the author's evidence and analyses....This book makes a worthwhile contribution."—Sixteenth Century Journal

"Porterfield's book contributes vitally to the ongoing reconceptualization of Puritanism that includes the category of gender; it will attract a wide audience."—American Literature

"Appealing and well argued."—The Historian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195068214
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1991
  • Series: Religion in America Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Wyoming
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