The New Puritans: Studies of Anglo-American Social Conscience


Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters

Taught by

American studies
British literature

Are you concerned with the dignity of everyday people, skeptical or outright hostile to state power, troubled by hierarchy, compelled to purge corrupting influences, attracted to disciplined bodily habits, worried that society is ever more unethical, committed to influence minds and hearts, and convinced that “everything happens for a reason”? If so, you may be a “New Puritan.” You are warmly invited to take this program and find out.

Students in The New Puritans are considering the history and culture of social change efforts in North America from the Puritans forward. Puritanism has changed since the 17 th century, but its basic “structures of feeling,” to borrow a phrase from Raymond Williams, are still with us and are the subject of our studies.

Winter quarter’s work will have two main threads.  The first is our collection of common texts, which provide historical, literary, and theoretical frameworks for grasping a new politics of injustice which emerged in the 19 th century and has shaped social change ever since.  We will read works by Susan Howe, Alexis deTocqueville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, W. E. B. DuBois, Joan Kelly, Frederick Jackson Turner, William James, Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Rebecca Harding Davis, Edith Wharton, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.  

The second thread of The New Puritans is a major research project.  The project will take the form of an analytic/critical/creative paper, which each student will develop with support from the program community.  Projects will stem from topics of student interest related to reform movements, social movements, and/or social justice in the United States. Topics could include food justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, religion, trans-national activism, anti-poverty work, feminism, LGBTQ rights, climate change, environmentalism, education, and virtually any other topic of interest. Evergreen’s history, culture, and current social change efforts will be one of our sources for these projects. New students who already have works-in-progress are encouraged to join us.  This program is an excellent choice for students who have studied political economy, social movements, and social justice, and who are interested in understanding the roots and character of Anglo-American social change efforts.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

humanities, education, and writing.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: First winter class meeting: Monday, January 4 at 10am (Sem II B3105)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$900 in fall for museum entrance fees and a 10-day field trip. Students will leave for a 10-day field trip to Boston at the end of week two in fall. The $900 student fee cover lodging in Boston, all local transportation fees including round trip ferries to Provincetown and Salem, and all museum and tour fees.  The student fee does not cover airfare (currently about $400 RT), airport transportation to and from Sea-Tac Airport, or food.  (Lodgings will accommodate cooking to keep food expenses low.)  A nonrefundable deposit of $200 is due by August 1, 2015. Final payment deadline is September 10, 2015. For more information, contact Trevor Speller at , or Nancy Koppelman at .  $60 in winter for entrance fees.


Date Revision
November 30th, 2015 Description has been updated.
November 19th, 2015 Winter fee added.
November 18th, 2015 This program will accept new winter enrollment without signature; students will be required to read Susan Howe’s The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History before the first day of class.
April 2nd, 2015 This program will now accept Sophomores - Seniors.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10172

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students


Students will be required to read Susan Howe’s The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History before the first day of class.  Contact the faculty to receive a reading guide to The Birth-Mark.

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 20093

Go to to register for this program.

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