Transgressing the Bounds: Subversive Enterprises among the Puritan Elite in Massachusetts, 1630-1692

Synopsis

This study offers a new interpretation of the Puritan "Antinomian" controversy and a skillful analysis of its wider and long term social and cultural significance. Breen argues that controversy both reflected and fostered larger questions of identity that would persist in Puritan New England during the 17th century. Some issues discussed here include the existence of individualism in a society that valued conformity and the response of members of an inward-looking, localistic culture to those among them of a more "cosmopolitan" nature. Central to Breen's study is the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, an elite social club that attracted a heterogeneous yet prominent membership, and whose diversity contrasted with the social and religious ideals of the cultural majority.