Conversion in Confinement: 11/9 Maier Seminar at MHS

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Conversion in Confinement

Authors: Daniel Bottino, Rutgers University & Hannah Peterson, Independent Scholar; Justin Clark, Nanyang Technological University;
Comment: Douglas Winiarski, University of Richmond

Tuesday 9 November
5:15 PM

Free, Virtual Event - hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society


This panel will consider two papers exploring the world of early American religious culture through the lens of carceral conversions. Daniel Bottino and Hannah Peterson's essay will explore the 38 page conversion narrative of Patience Boston, a Native American woman hanged for murder in York, Maine, in 1735. The document offers an extraordinary opportunity for an exploration of religious culture in New England on the verge of the Whitefieldian awakenings of the 1740s. When examined in its proper historical context, the narrative reveals the spiritual power capable of being wielded even by the most socially marginal people in the intensely religious atmosphere of early eighteenth-century New England. Justin Clark’s essay will show that as Congregationalist New England’s eighteenth-century revivalists offered a brief window of spiritual hope for thousands of sinners, civil authorities began to extend additional periods of time to the region’s condemned convicts. This paper examines the emergence of these extended capital reprieves and their relationship to the accelerated spiritual conversions outside gaol walls. What role did the revivals play in encouraging New Englanders before the penitentiary to re-conceive of carceral time as transformative in itself?. 

The Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation on Tuesday 9 November at 5:15 PM. The seminar brings together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper(s). After brief remarks from the author(s) and an assigned commentator, the discussion is opened to the floor. All are encouraged to ask questions, provide feedback on the circulated essay, and discuss the topic at hand. Our sessions are free and open to everyone.  

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