The Puritan Literary Imagination

Speaker(s): Johanna Harris
Date: Summer 2021
Length: 1h 11m
Product ID: RGDL5102H

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Despite being renowned in the popular imagination for their allegedly serious-minded, anti-arts tendencies, the Puritans were surprisingly influential on literary writing up to the present day. In the seventeenth-century the Puritans developed a theology that was recognisably their own and this became a ‘worldview’ that impacted literature of the time as well as its theology. This lecture will explore the puritan legacy as it emerges in imaginative and other forms of literature. Profoundly influential texts include John Milton’s Paradise Lost and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. It will elucidate a seventeenth-century and Puritan view of humanity and its place in the world with regard to the period’s theology, poetry, and prose (including fiction, autobiography and personal letters). Then it will explore the ongoing influence and presence of a Puritan worldview upon literature up to the present day, despite common perceptions of such a thing being confined to history.

See All Audio by Johanna Harris

Johanna Harris is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Exeter. She has published articles and chapters on Lady Brilliana Harley and the Harley family, English radical Protestantism, and early modern epistolary culture. She is completing a monograph on the correspondence networks and epistolary styles of English puritanism, and is the co-editor (with Elizabeth Scott-Baumann) of The Intellectual Culture of Puritan Women, 1558–1680. With Alison Searle, she is the co-general editor of The Correspondence of Richard Baxter, a 9-volume edition contracted to OUP, and editor of Volume 1 (1635-53), in progress. Johanna is also a volume editor for The Oxford Traherne, editing Select Meditations and The Ceremonial Law. Johanna's grandfather (Bruce Harris, now 97) was an Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union associate of both J. I. Packer and James Houston in post-war Oxford.

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