Conversing by signs: poetics of implication in colonial New by Robert Blair St. George

By Robert Blair St. George

The writer demonstrates how New England colonialists lived in a densely metaphoric panorama, exploring the hyperlinks among such cultural expressions as witchcraft narratives and 18th-century crowd violence. He questions the particular impression of the Enlightenment in this weather of worry and instability.

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Many such stories attested to the power associated with places pierced and fixed by revelation, places that became sites of local legend production for the next century. 12 With a theory of place articulated that tied revelation and remembrance to specific occurrences and locations, people used pilgrimage and ritual processions to sacralize the graves of ministers and exploited the power of key places for example, Boston's town house, customs house, and Old South meetinghouse to make public statements of dissatisfaction over trade or imperial policy.

This project drove God's Englishmen to defend the church militant against infidels while also attempting their wholesale conversion to the Protestant faith and the currencies of nascent capitalism. Part of the calculated expansion of England's economy thus was rooted, Page 20 Figure 2. Conjectural view of Guilford farmstead from the southwest, ca. 1641. (Drawing by the author) paradoxically, in the retention of enclosed and protective settlement forms that looked back toward the fixed security of feudal social relations at the same time that commodity relations were loosening the parameters of social place.

Chapter 2 focuses on an additional layer of significance in which ordinary houses Desborough's included were deeply implicated: the human body. I am aware that in diverse cultures and historical periods "the body" never exists in any singular "naturalized" state. 15 This chapter argues the metaphoric reality of an anthropomorphic house that Puritans built from assorted imagined timber in the Bible, poetry, building manuals, and diaries. As we have seen with ideas about performance and place, general medical understanding of the body was shifting in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; at the same time, embodiment was at the heart of Puritan prescriptive aesthetics, which I argue was rooted in the complex politics of communion and covenant theology.

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