Reflections on the Funerary Monuments and Burying Grounds of Early New England

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2004-12-08

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This thesis comprises a considerable revision of the scholarship on the burying grounds and funerary monuments of early New England. It analyzes numerous objects and texts as yet unstudied in the literature on these topics, arguing for a cultural historical recontextualization of objects and spaces. My research pays attention to both the material realities and material imagination of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The themes of the paper include the following: the status of funerary monuments and burying ground meditations in the materially ambivalent Puritan milieu; the impulse to order as it relates to burying grounds as parcels of colonial landscape; the idea of the "good name"; the purifying "texts of self" that constitute the content of funerary monuments; and the pilgrimage, a prime metaphor for the Protestant life. The project stands between history and fiction, depending upon archival evidence and extensive primary documentation, on the one hand, and suspicious local histories and the playful propositions inherent of the interpretive enterprise, on the other.

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