Eschatology and Sacred Errand in Mary Rowlandson’s Sovereignty and Goodness of God

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This article argues that the North American Captivity Narrative, with its textual origins in the Puritan imaginary and lived experiences of the New England frontier, should be understood as ideologically structured through the distinctive Puritan vision of an emigrant sacred 'errand' from the Old World, to what it envisioned was a new one. It focuses on Mary Rowlandson's autobiographical account, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, which was first published for an embattled Puritan congregation of Massachusetts in 1690, and constitutes the earliest published example of the tradition of captivity narratives published in North America. This article argues that the North American captivity narrative may not simply be shorn of its ideological and rhetorical contexts, nor the Puritan habitus in which the work was produced. Rather, as Panay contends here, the significance of Rowlandson's narrative is as Sacvan Bercovich describes it, 'evidence of private regeneration into a testimonial for the colonial cause.'
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Studies Today
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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