The American Puritan Elegy

A Literary and Cultural Study

The American Puritan Elegy

Jeffrey Hammond's study of the funeral elegies of early New England reassesses a body of poems whose importance in their own time has been obscured by almost total neglect in ours. Hammond reconstructs the historical, theological and cultural contexts of these poems to demonstrate how they responded to Puritan views on a specific process of mourning. The elegies emerge, he argues, as performative scripts that consoled readers by shaping their experience. They shed new light on the emotional dimension of Puritanism and the important role of ritual in Puritan culture.


"Although one scarcely expects contemporary readers to show much interest in the multitude of formulaic death poems left behind by dead white (and mostly male) Puritans, Jeffery A. Hammond's study offers an impressively innovate approach to this subject matter." John Gatta Christianity and Literature

"Never has thid body of peoms read so intensely and so well." Early American Literature: Volume 36

"Hammond's rich, erudite text is clearly addressed to academic peers...Hammond's achievement is considerable." American Literature