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Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace: New England Crime Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674-1860
Contributor(s): Cohen, Daniel A. (Author)

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ISBN: 1558495290     ISBN-13: 9781558495296
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
OUR PRICE: $28.30  

Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: December 2006
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Annotation: In this innovative study, Cohen demonstrates a major cultural shift from the colonial period to the mid-nineteenth century by exploring the popular literature of crime and punishment. Tracing the declining authority of Puritan ministers and Calvinistic notions of sin, he explores how they were replaced by a romantic, pluralistic literary marketplace where new professionals, lawyers - journalists, and even fiction writers - defined morals and clairified authority. Cohen begins with a comprehensive survey of the entire field of crime literature in New England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He then focuses on two highly publicized sexual murders of the nineteenth century that illustrate changing attitudes toward crime and changing patterns of popular literature. Recovering a lost culture of legal romanticism, featuring trial reports, romantic biographies, and fictionalized docudramas, Cohen challenges the conventional assumption that there was a growing split between law and literature during the antebellum period. An imaginative use of unpublished court records and a wide array of popular literary sources revealing insights into American society from colonial times to the Civil War, this fascinating book probes the forgotten origins of our own modern mass media's preoccupation with crime and punishment. The first volume in the Commonwealth Center Studies in American Culture series, Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace unites literary analysis with social, cultural, legal, religious, and intellectual history and offers a jargon-free look at vivid case studies that will appeal to scholars and general readers alike.

Click for more in this series: Commonwealth Center Studies in American Culture
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Literary Criticism | American - General
- Social Science | Popular Culture
- Literary Criticism | Mystery & Detective Fiction
Dewey: 810.935
LCCN: 2005036569
Series: Commonwealth Center Studies in American Culture
Physical Information: 0.92" H x 6.32" W x 9.2" (1.11 lbs) 368 pages
Themes:
- Chronological Period - 17th Century
- Chronological Period - 18th Century
- Chronological Period - 19th Century
- Cultural Region - New England
Features: Bibliography, Illustrated, Index, Table of Contents
 
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Publisher Description:
In this innovative study, Daniel A. Cohen explores a major cultural shift embodied in hundreds of early New England crime publications. Tracing the declining authority of Puritan ministers, he shows how the arbiters of an increasingly pluralistic literary marketplace gradually supplanted pious execution sermons with last-speech broadsides, gallows verses, criminal autobiographies, trial reports, newspaper stories, and romantic docudramas. Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace probes the forgotten origins of our modern mass media's preoccupation with crime and punishment.
 
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