Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2017

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation reveals how prominent American antislavery writers reimagined the Puritans as roots for a rebellious abolitionist imagination. In turn, it offers a new literary history with more disruptive origins than have yet been acknowledged. A tradition of scholarship in American literary studies since Perry Miller and Sacvan Bercovitch has marked Puritanism as a largely hegemonic and conservative force in American culture, yet antislavery writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lydia Maria Child, and Frederick Douglass revived the Puritans' more militant legacies to sanction radical dissent. Through what I describe as a genealogical approach, this study reveals not only how origins can become multivalent and contested in moments of crisis, but also how they can serve as arenas to imagine new literary, religious, and political forms.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Robert Milder

Committee Members

Abram Van Engen, Rafia Zafar, Iver Bernstein, Leigh Schmidt,


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