Contested Boundaries
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Contested Boundaries : Itinerancy and the Reshaping of the Colonial American Religious World

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The First Great Awakening in eighteenth-century America challenged the institutional structures and raised the consciousness of colonial Americans. These revivals gave rise to the practice of itinerancy in which ministers and laypeople left their own communities to preach across the countryside. In Contested Boundaries, Timothy D. Hall argues that the Awakening was largely defined by the ensuing debate over itinerancy. Drawing on recent scholarship in cultural and social anthropology, cultural studies, and eighteenth-century religion, he reveals at the center of this debate the itinerant preacher as a catalyst for dramatic change in the religious practice and social order of the New World.
This book expands our understanding of evangelical itinerancy in the 1740s by viewing it within the context of Britain's expanding commercial empire. As pro- and anti-revivalists tried to shape a burgeoning transatlantic consumer society, the itinerancy of the Great Awakening appears here as a forceful challenge to contemporary assumptions about the place of individuals within their social world and the role of educated leaders as regulators of communication, order, and change. The most celebrated of these itinerants was George Whitefield, an English minister who made unprecedented tours through the colonies. According to Hall, the activities of the itinerants, including Whitefield, encouraged in the colonists an openness beyond local boundaries to an expanding array of choices for belief and behavior in an increasingly mobile and pluralistic society. In the process, it forged a new model of the church and its social world.
As a response to and a source of dynamic social change, itinerancy in Hall's powerful account provides a prism for viewing anew the worldly and otherworldly transformations of colonial society. Contested Boundaries will be of interest to students and scholars of colonial American history, religious studies, and cultural and social anthropology.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 153.92 x 229.11 x 16.26mm | 353.8g
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 082231522X
  • 9780822315223

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"Vitally fresh . . . an impressive book. The sophistication of the theoretical and historiographical introduction promises the reader that historical inquiry and interpretation of the first order await. It is a thrilling study."--Samuel S. Hill, University of Florida
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. Itinerancy in Historical Perspective 17

2. The Menace of Itinerancy 41

3. Itinerancy and the Evangelical Imagination 71

4. The Proliferation of Itinerancy 101

Conclusion: Itinerancy and the Transformation of the Early American Religious World 129

Notes 141

Index 177
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Review quote

"Vitally fresh . . . an impressive book. The sophistication of the theoretical and historiographical introduction promises the reader that historical inquiry and interpretation of the first order await. It is a thrilling study."-Samuel S. Hill, University of Florida "Contested Boundaries makes a telling and timely argument. It opens up rich new insights into eighteenth-century Protestantism and the changing colonial mindset in the face of escalating populations, increased multiculturalism, improved modes of travel, rising rates of literacy, strengthened transatlantic commerce, and the arduous, extended transition from subsistence to markets."-Peter H. Wood, Duke University
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About Timothy D. Hall

Timothy D. Hall is Assistant Professor of Early American History at Central Michigan University.
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