Awakening Verse: The Poetics of Early American Evangelism
Awakening Verse: The Poetics of Early American Evangelism  -     By: Wendy Raphael Roberts
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Oxford University Press / 2020 / Hardcover
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Awakening Verse: The Poetics of Early American Evangelism

Oxford University Press / 2020 / Hardcover

This product will be released on 07/01/20
Email me when this product is available.
Stock No: WW510278


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Product Information

Title: Awakening Verse: The Poetics of Early American Evangelism
By: Wendy Raphael Roberts
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 296
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2020
Weight: 2 pounds
ISBN: 0197510272
ISBN-13: 9780197510278
Stock No: WW510278

Publisher's Description

In 1740, Benjamin Franklin published the first American edition of Gospel Sonnets, by the eminent Scottish Presbyterian minister Ralph Erskine. The work, already in its fifth British edition, quickly became an American bestseller and remained so throughout the eighteenth century. Franklin was aware of what most scholars of American religion and literature have forgotten -that poetry played a central role in the "surprising works of God" that birthed evangelicalism.

The far-reaching social transformations precipitated by the transatlantic evangelical revivals of the eighteenth century depended upon the development of a major literary form, that of revival poetry. Literary scholars and historians of religion have prioritized sermons, conversion narratives, periodicals, and hymnody. Wendy Roberts here argues that poetry offered a unique capacity to "diffuse celestial Fervor through the World," in the words of the cleric Samuel Davies. Awakening Verse is the first monograph to address this large corpus of evangelical poetry in the American colonies, shedding light on important dimensions of eighteenth-century religious and literary culture. Roberts deftly assembles a large, previously unknown archive of immensely popular poems, examines how literary history has rendered this poetic tradition invisible, and demonstrates how a vibrant popular poetics exercised a substantial effect on the landscape of early American religion, literature, and culture.

Author Bio


Wendy Raphael Roberts is Assistant Professor of English at The University at Albany, SUNY.

Editorial Reviews


"Awakening Verse boldly and convincingly demonstrates the cultural potency of Evangelical poetry in the Eighteenth-century Atlantic World. Its historiography jettisons national narratives, framing matters within a story of transatlantic Reformed Christianity. It does not sublate its religious history into an account of the rise of American civil religion or British social gospel. It argues that Evangelical poetry supplied greater range of expression than homiletics or hymnody because it was voiced by more women, Natives, and Africans. Finally, it reveals Evangelic verse's figural signature-espousal--differentiating its poetics from Augustan neoclassicism. A new classic of Anglo-American literary history." -- David S. Shields, University of South Carolina


"In Awakening Verse, Wendy Raphael Roberts recovers a substantial archive of American evangelical poetry and brilliantly interprets the assumptions that shaped it. These poems were understood to be expressions of the "language of heaven," born of a belief in poetry's redemptive power. Few works of literary history have the potential to fundamentally alter critical narratives. Roberts's book is one such rare and important work." -- Sandra M. Gustafson, Author of Eloquence is Power and Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic


"Awakening Verse is a powerful new take on evangelicalism and poetry in eighteenth-century British North America. With a dazzling archive and rigorous analysis, Roberts uses the significant but hitherto unexamined genre of revivalist verse to reveal the inextricable links between religious affections and poetic form. Nobody will be able to look at Ralph Waldo Emerson's vision of poetry replacing religion in the same way again." -- Sarah Rivett, Princeton University


"Wendy Roberts provides a masterful account of the ways in which poetry enabled new experiences of charismatic religion in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Like the poems it expertly examines, Awakening Verse will delight and instruct both general readers and specialists in the histories of religion and poetics. The book is deeply researched and carefully argued, and yet still open to exploring the unexpected detours its subjects take." -- Michael C. Cohen, UCLA


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