Sentimentalism and Religion in Early America

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Society of Early Americanists 2011 - Philadelphia

This panel takes two basic, but seemingly contradictory, points as its foundation for discussion: that the usual genealogies of sentimentalism through Enlightened thought (Shaftsbury, Hume, Smith) may not be fully adequate, and that studies of sentimentalism which treat religion as a secondary category (if at all) may be a result of defining religion as a set of beliefs or ideas rather than experiences or what has been termed "lived religion." This panel embraces both these approaches—-the history of ideas and the study of daily experience—-to suggest alternative understandings of early American sentimentalism and religion. To this end, this panel invites papers that explore the relations, complications, genealogies, or breaks between sentimentalism and religion in early America. It especially privileges papers that treat the historiography of sentimentalism and/or early American religion in order to interrogate and navigate sentimentalism's relationship to religion as both an aesthetic/philosophical idea and a practice or experience.

Please submit abstract by September 20, 2010 to Wendy Roberts (

The Society of Early Americanists' Seventh Biennial Conference, 3-5 March 2011, Philadelphia