The Interpretation of Material Shapes in Puritanism overturns many of our long-held assumptions about the social and artistic values of Protestantism. Dr Ann Kibbey offers a detailed analysis of the rhetoric of the Puritan plain style, centring her argument on the influential preacher John Cotton and discloses a general theory of figuration in the Protestant tradition that has been overlooked by literary critics, historians and sociologists alike. The author explores the immense variety of ways in which early Protestants in Europe and America granted significance to material shapes. Kibbery finds that in their perception of icons, their use of acoustic design in rhetoric and their interpretations of human beings as physical objects, early Protestants - and especially Puritans - worshipped the figurations of material life as privileged sources of meaning. In this book, Ann Kibbey draws conclusions far wider than her nominal subject, proposing that still-prevalent attitudes toward gender, culture and race were central to the fundamental beliefs of American Puritans.
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