"For Thy Best Beauty": Canticles and Collectivity in Early America.
Abstract: My dissertation explores the history of gendered collectivity in
early America through the defining role of Canticles (or Song of Songs) and its relative
eclipse in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Drawing on a range of
writing in print and archival sources, I examine sermons, poems, scriptural annotations and
pamphlets to show that gendered notions of collectivity ... read morewere pivotal in early America,
first, for Puritanism and, second, for modes of affiliation that take as their starting
point distance from religion and religious dispute. Combining a historical study of
religion and gender with a theoretical approach to belief, this work seeks to explain the
emergence of bourgeois community in early America by demonstrating why men in the
eighteenth century began to think of themselves as united in brotherhood distinct from
religious affiliation and state authority. The dissertation probes the relationship between
religion, early modern discourses on sexuality and the rise of bourgeois economic relations
even as it revises accounts that situate Puritanism as the origin of secular liberalism and
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2012.
Submitted to the Dept. of English.
Advisor: Jesper Rosenmeier.
Committee: Virginia Jackson, Michael Warner, and Carol Flynn.
Keywords: Literature, American literature, and American studies.read less