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A Passion for Getting It Right

Essays and Appreciations in Honor of Michael J. Colacurcio’s 50 Years of Teaching

Edited By Carol M. Bensick

For 50 years Michael J. Colacurcio has been a leader in the criticism of early and antebellum American literature. In The Province of Piety, New Essays on The Scarlet Letter, Doctrine and Difference, and Godly Letters, as well as editions and often-reprinted reviews and essays, Dr. Colacurcio has continued to defend a rare vision of the political and intellectual depth of America’s serious fiction and the aesthetic power and charm of its religious poetry and prose. In light of many honors such as the Book of the Year Award from the Conference of Christianity and Literature and election in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, UCLA raised him to the rank of Distinguished Professor. Yet for all his dedication to research, his students know him as an unforgettable teacher, who has continued to win several teaching awards at both Cornell and UCLA. The present volume aspires to celebrate Dr. Colacurcio’s 50 years of transformative teaching through an exciting bounty of original and classic essays by some of his most talented students and eminent colleagues from his very first years at Cornell up to and including his current students at UCLA.
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Two Puritans You May Not Know But Hawthorne Thinks You Should




The following profiles of John Davenport and John Eliot, whom almost all readers of this book will know but, I suggest, not fully enough, were originally drafted as contributions to Michael J. Colacurcio’s forthcoming anthology of early American religious literature with Baylor University Press entitled “American Reformation.” Both figures were a revelation to me, as I had hardly gone beyond Hooker, Shepard, and Cotton among the first generation of Massachusetts Bay preachers in my courses. I knew from Colacurcio’s Godly Letters to understand the early Puritans as, whatever else, accomplished book authors. Reading Davenport’s Saint’s Anchor-Hold vindicated this. To me there is no question that Anchor-Hold belongs in the survey (and seminar), even as Colacurcio has put as much of it (along with other works) as possible into American Reformation.

John Eliot was a revelation in a different way. Inevitably, as Colacurcio’s student, I knew that Eliot figures in both The Scarlet Letter and The Blithedale Romance, in one as an off-stage character and needed plot pretext, and in the other as an emphatic though obscure hint, a dig in the ribs as it were. I had always taken the allusion at all-but face value, the level of an anthology footnote: ah yes, John Eliot, apostle to the Indians. Saintly guy whose solitary activities thankfully redeem the first generation of Puritans from their badness.

Yet I should have known better. As the readers of this book...

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