English 3510 (“Skeptics May Object”)

Let’s follow the directions Graff and Birkenstien give on page 90, but replace the paragraph they provide with the following, from Ruland and Bradbury’s From Puritanism to Postmodernism:

Because of such exclusions, much later American writing, and some would say the American imagination itself, revolted against Puritanism. In fact to many later artists the very idea of a “Puritan imagination” would come to seem a contradiction in terms. Hawthorne, one of whose ancestors was a judge at the Salem witchcraft trials, returned with a sense of curious ambiguity to the world of his steeple-hatted Puritan ancestors in The Scarlet Letter (1850). He tests the idea of “iron-bound” Puritan society against the world of nature, but discloses as well that the power of the Puritan spirit has not died. (31)

Or this one, about Anne Bradstreet:

But, though [Bradstreet’s poem’s] strongest subjects are drawn from the stuff of daily life . . . they have a metaphysical wit and texture that anticipate the works of a New Englander of two hundred years later, Emily Dickinson. This comes in part from the struggle between dissent and acceptance in the life of a strong-willed woman living in a commonwealth which required double submission, to domestic and divine duty, but also in part from the sense of felt experience she inherited from British poetry, mixing an alert vivacity with an apparent simplicity. Her love is marital, her landscape plain but brightly seen, her meditations troubled but ultimately pious, her awareness of nature acute but also respectful of the Maker of it. (22-23)

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