The Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts

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Overview

A radical new interpretation of the political and intellectual history of Puritan Massachusetts, The Making of an American Thinking Class envisions the Bay colony as a seventeenth century one-party state, where congregations served as ideological 'cells' and authority was restricted to an educated elite of ministers and magistrates. From there Staloff offers a broadened conception of the interstices of political, social, and intellectual authority in Puritan Massachusetts and beyond, arguing that ideologies, as well as ideological politics, are produced by self-conscious, and often class-conscious, thinkers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An invigorating contribution to the scholarly literature on Puritan New England—original in perspective, forceful in argument, and graceful in presentation. In Staloff's sophisticated retelling, the emergence to authority in Massachusetts of certain intellectuals (clergymen) and intelligentsia (magistrates) as a 'thinking class' shaped the Puritan stronghold's politics and cultural life until 1686. By reading the sources with an uncommonly keen eye for the nuances of power, Staloff sheds new light on many heretofore slighted aspects of Massachusetts history as well as such old chestnuts as the banishing of Roger Williams, the squelching the Quakers, and the jousting over the Halfway Covenant. [Staloff] also offers perceptive new assessments of the Bay Colony's major personalities, including John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, and Increase Mather. Old hands at Puritan studies as well as newcomers to the field will profit immensely from this insightful book."—Alden T. Vaughan, Columbia University

"In all probability, [Staloff's book] will quickly become the one book that everyone will read and assign to get into the mind and culture of Puritan New England."—John M. Murrin, Princeton University

"Darren Staloff's analytical categories of class and power provide the structure for what is both an excellent social history of political conflicts and a useful political history of religious events. His account gives new, provocative twists to old stories like the Hutchinson trial, disputes over the charter, and the Halfway Covenant...Staloff's dramatic and nuanced narrative reveals not only the interplay of class and power but also the considerable influence of personalities and ideas."—illiam and Mary Quarterly

"It offers a genuinely ironical way to understand the New England Puritans' lurch into modernity, a topic of neverending interest to scholars in this field."—Reviews in American History

Alden T. Vaughan
Invigorating....By reading the sources with an uncommonly keen eye for the nuances of power, Staloff sheds new light on many heretofore slighted aspects of Massachusetts history....Old hands at Puritan studies as well as newcomers to the field will profit immensely from this insightful book. -- Alden T. Vaughan, Columbia University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195113525
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1997
  • Pages: 296
  • Lexile: 1660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Darren Staloff is Assistant Professor of History at City College of New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Prologue: The Struggle for the Company
1. The Creation of the New England Way: Cultural Authority and the Puritan Thinking Class
2. John Cotton, Roger Williams, and the Problem of Charisma
3. John Cotton and the Dialectic of Antinomian Dissent
4. Antinomianism Defeated
5. Ordering the One-Party Regime
6. Establishing Orthodoxy
7. From the Cambridge Platform to the Half-Way Covenant
8. The Restoration and the Politics of Declension
9. Increase Mather and the Decline of Cultural Domination
Appendix A: Key Terms
Appendix B: Toward a Postrevisionist Interpretation of Puritanism: Religion, Society, and Politics
Notes
Index

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