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Participant name: Van Engen
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FZ-256564-17

Abram C. Van Engen
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO 63130-4899)
The Meaning of America: How the United States Became the City on a Hill

Completion of a book project on the history and influence of John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” sermon ("A Model of Christian Charity") from 1630 to the present.

This project is a biography of John Winthrop's "city on a hill" sermon from 1630 to the present day. Cited today by politicians and many others as the origin of American exceptionalism, this sermon has become foundational to American history and literature. Yet in its own day, it went unrecorded, unpublished, and completely unnoticed. Found in 1838, Winthrop's sermon only gradually became important, achieving status as an American classic in the mid-twentieth century. This study asks how it rose and with what effects. Ever since its rebirth, I show, competing interpretations of the text have offered contending visions of American community and purpose. Drawing on several methodologies, my biography of Winthrop's sermon becomes, finally, a history of exceptionalism and "the meaning of America" as it has emerged from--and been contested in--rediscoveries, reinventions, and reinterpretations of America's past.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholars

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$25,200 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 6/30/2018


FA-58221-15

Abram C. Van Engen
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO 63130-4899)
"A Model of Christian Charity": A History of the Reception of John Winthrop's 1630 City on the Hill Sermon

This project is a biography of John Winthrop's sermon "A Model of Christian Charity." Nearly four centuries after it proclaimed New England a "city upon a hill," this sermon has become a foundational text of American history and literature. Yet in its own day, it went unrecorded, unpublished, and almost entirely unnoticed. Found and first published in 1838, Winthrop's sermon gradually became important, achieving status as an American classic only in the mid-twentieth century. This study asks how it rose and with what effects. Ever since its rebirth, I show, competing interpretations of the text have offered contending visions of American community and purpose. Drawing on studies of American exceptionalism, the history of emotions, book history, and the history of reading, my biography of Winthrop's sermon becomes, finally, a history of "the meaning of America" as it has emerged from--and been contested in--rediscoveries, reinventions, and reinterpretations of America's literary past.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017


FA-53921-08

John Van Engen
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)
Reason, Reading, and Revolt: The Spirit of 12th-Century Europe

This book treats the decades between about 1050 and 1180. It is a cultural essay on the spirits that drove culture and politics in Europe's "twelfth century." Medieval Europeans contested issues across the spectrum, on God, nature, society, human beings, and customary practice. Lest, as too often, religion get isolated from learning or society from letters, this book lifts out those dynamic forces that cut across social groups. For narrative purposes I have identified these as revolt, reason, reading, and romance. These new energies in turn employed modes of communication that assumed new prominence or took peculiar forms, intellectual and social as well as material, among them letters, glosses, preaching and poetry (Latin and vernacular). The book, though a cultural history, draws upon social sources (law, chronicles, charters), and self-consciously integrates figures often left out of the general story, including women such as Hildegard of Bingen.

Project fields:
Medieval Studies

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2008 – 6/30/2009


RL-21497-89

University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)
John Van Engen (Project Director: June 1988 to April 1993)
Lives and Sayings of the Brothers at Deventer

To support the preparation of a critical edition and translation of 14th-century texts that recount the lives of members of the Brothers of the Common Life, forerunners of Erasmian humanism.

Project fields:
Medieval Studies

Program:
Translations

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$40,000 (approved)
$39,695 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/1989 – 8/31/1992


EH-20911-88

University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)
John Van Engen (Project Director: April 1988 to March 1990)
Christendom in the High Middle Ages

To support a five-week institute for 30 college teachers on the scholarship andteaching of medieval religious culture.

Project fields:
Medieval Studies

Program:
Institutes for College and University Teachers

Division:
Education Programs

Totals:
$119,947 (approved)
$119,947 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/1988 – 9/30/1989