The American Puritan Elegy: A Literary and Cultural Study

Synopsis

Jeffrey Hammond's study of the funeral elegies of early New England reassesses a body of poems whose importance in their own time has been obscured by almost total neglect in ours. Hammond reconstructs the historical, theological and cultural contexts of these poems to demonstrate how they responded to Puritan views on a specific process of mourning. The elegies emerge, he argues, as performative scripts that consoled readers by shaping their experience. They shed new light on the emotional dimension of Puritanism and the important role of ritual in Puritan culture.