Protestant Sainthood: Martyrdom and the Meaning of Sanctity in Early New England


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Study of Religion


This dissertation examines the rhetoric of martyrdom in seventeenth-century American Protestant culture, exploring how Puritans, Baptists, and Quakers imagined themselves within biblical and historical narratives of persecution. New Englanders drew on the history of Christian suffering both to strengthen their authority in matters of religion and to reinforce a model of the true spiritual life. Investigating how the notions of persecution and affliction move in and out of the literature of the period reveals that identity is closely related to how various groups placed themselves within genealogies of sufferers. The sense of being uniquely threatened and marginalized had striking implications for inter-group conflict and for the justification of aggression against Native Americans.