Inventing Eden: primitivism, millennialism, and the making of New England

2015 ChoiceReviews  
ZACHARY McLEOD HUTCHINS Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England (Under the Direction of Philip Gura) Seventeenth-century exegetes described Eden as a three-fold paradise because they believed that Adam and Eve lived in "an external garden of delight," possessed incorrupt physiologies, and enjoyed intellectual, spiritual, and social perfections before the Fall. Accordingly, the dissertation is organized thematically, treating the ways in which New England
more » ... ts sought to mold their lands, bodies, minds, language, souls, and social spheres after the pattern provided in Eden. Chapter one traces the transition of terms used to describe the New England landscape from the present "paradise" of John Smith to the "hideous and desolate wilderness" of William Bradford and the prospective "Paradise" of Cotton Mather. Chapter two outlines programs of physiological reform, as colonists like Anne Bradstreet disciplined their physical bodies and ministers like Edward Taylor regulated the ecclesiastical body's consumption of communion in order to achieve humoral temperance-the somatic and spiritual state of Adam and Eve in Eden. Chapters three and four document Francis Bacon's influence on educational and linguistic aspirations in New England. I argue that because the encyclopedic knowledge and divinely denotative language of Adam were believed to be inseparably linked, Leonard Hoar's plans to turn Harvard into the world's first experimental laboratory in chemistry situated at a university and John Cotton's attempt to model the language of the Bay Psalm Book after the lingua humana of iv Eden should be understood as related endeavors, companion contributions from New England to the Baconian project for the instauration of prelapsarian intellectual perfections. Chapter five examines the ways in which ministers of the Great Awakening presented Adam and Eve to their congregants as types of Christian conversion, and chapter six details the process by which theories of natural law distilled from Genesis became the basis for colonial rebellion and republican government through the influence of Oceana, James Harrington's vision of an idealized, edenic republic. Spanning two centuries and surveying the works of major British and American authors from George Herbert and John Milton to Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin, Inventing Eden is the history of an idea that irrevocably altered the theology, literature, and culture of early modern New England. v For my very own Eve, a mother who knows. vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS No one, sadly, volunteered to write this dissertation for me, but many contributed their time, talents, and other assets so that I could write more cogently and more quickly than I ever would have been able to on my own. Much as I would like to I cannot name all of those who helped me to learn and write about Eden-time and space will not permit. But the following individuals simply must be mentioned; without them this study would not exist in anything like its current form. My first debt is to Janet Garrard, who persuaded me that such a work was possible. The Brigham Young University Office of Research and Creative Activities allowed me to pursue the dreams that she awakened by financially supporting the mentorship of Steve Walker, whose wisdom continues to be a source of strength. David Shields and the anonymous readers for Early American Literature, who reviewed the essay has since become Chapter 5, were enormously generous in their treatment of undergraduate writing, and their patient feedback continues to shape my understanding of how to write for the academy. After I thought I had learned to write, Eliza Richards-who reads more carefully than anyone I know-taught me to revise, for which I am deeply grateful. Reid Barbour never allowed me to rest on my laurels, and the breadth of this study is a testament to both the capacious curiosity he constantly exudes and his willingness to tutor me on the finer points of seventeenth-century British culture. Laurie Maffly-Kipp introduced me to a world outside of English department readings lists and understood the point of this study before anyone else, vii even myself. Mary Floyd-Wilson deserves a special note of thanks for being patient enough and honest enough to persistently point out the flaws in early drafts until I was ready to listen to her invaluable critiques and for introducing me to the Folger Institute, where David Hall,
doi:10.5860/choice.189012 fatcat:xvnbep4nnzfodjlz3kzebeluhy