Puritanism and Emotion in the Early Modern World

  • Alec Ryrie
  • Tom Schwanda

About this book


The stereotype of the emotionless or gloomy Puritan is still with us, but this book's purpose is not merely to demonstrate that it is false. The reason to look at seventeenth-century English and American Puritans' understanding and experience of joy, happiness, assurance, and affliction is to show how important the emotions were for Puritan culture, from leading figures such as Richard Baxter and John Bunyan through to more obscure diarists and letter-writers. Rejecting the modern opposition between 'head' and 'heart', these men and women believed that a rational religion was also a deeply-felt one, and that contemplative practices and other spiritual duties could produce transporting joy which was understood as a Christian's birthright. The emotional experiences which they expected from their faith, and the ones they actually encountered, constituted much of its power. Theologians, historians and literary scholars here combine to bring the study of Puritanism together with the new vogue for the history of the emotions.


Puritans Puritanism Emotion Assurance Joy Affliction Despair Bunyan Baxter Goodwin Watson New England Contemplation anxiety emotion England puritanism

Editors and affiliations

  • Alec Ryrie
    • 1
  • Tom Schwanda
    • 2
  1. 1.Durham UniversityUK
  2. 2.Wheaton CollegeUSA

Bibliographic information