"Signs of the Times" in Cotton Mather's "Paterna": A Study of Puritan Autobiography (AMS Studies in Religious Tradition S. v. 2)
By: Constance J. Post (author)Hardback
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A study of the autobiography of Cotton Mather (1663-1728), "Signs of the Times" examines Puritan signifying practices of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in New England on several levels, ranging from the comprehensive, in which Mather situates himself within the "imitatio Christi" tradition, to the minute, whereby "Paterna" serves an elaborate sensor/sensorium. Mather's autobiography is also a handbook of spiritual technology, and his assessment of the practices he found to be useful signifies major changes within the structures of Puritan experience, despite his attempt to weave his own times and other times that he privileges as a seamless web. Dominating Mather's book is the desire to make the random routine and the routine random - a tension in Puritan practice that became increasingly difficult to balance. Mather's pivotal role in signalling these shifts is nowhere more evident than in the pattern of personal piety he endorses in "Paterna", and his insistence on the processual mode continues to resonate in American culture.
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- ID: 9780404625320
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