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Grant number like: FA-58221-15

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Award Number Grant ProgramAward RecipientProject TitleAward PeriodApproved Award Total
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FA-58221-15Research Programs: Fellowships for University TeachersAbram C. Van Engen"A Model of Christian Charity": A History of the Reception of John Winthrop's 1630 City on the Hill Sermon7/1/2016 - 6/30/2017$50,400.00AbramC.Van Engen   Washington UniversitySt. LouisMO63130-4862USA2014U.S. HistoryFellowships for University TeachersResearch Programs504000504000

This project is a biography of John Winthrop's sermon "A Model of Christian Charity." Nearly four centuries after it proclaimed New England a "city upon a hill," this sermon has become a foundational text of American history and literature. Yet in its own day, it went unrecorded, unpublished, and almost entirely unnoticed. Found and first published in 1838, Winthrop's sermon gradually became important, achieving status as an American classic only in the mid-twentieth century. This study asks how it rose and with what effects. Ever since its rebirth, I show, competing interpretations of the text have offered contending visions of American community and purpose. Drawing on studies of American exceptionalism, the history of emotions, book history, and the history of reading, my biography of Winthrop's sermon becomes, finally, a history of "the meaning of America" as it has emerged from--and been contested in--rediscoveries, reinventions, and reinterpretations of America's literary past.