Puritans at play : leisure and recreation in colonial New England


Puritans at play : leisure and recreation in colonial New England

Bruce C. Daniels

Macmillan, 1995

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Many societies, past and present, are seen as having restrictive views on the pursuit of pleasure, but few peoples conjure up as strong an image of asceticism as the Puritans do. For over four centuries, "puritan" has been a synonym for dour, joyless and repressed. In the 1930s, however, professional historians questioned the accuracy of this grim portrait, and began a reappraisal of Puritanism that continues to the present. As part of that reappraisal, this book examines leisure and recreation in colonial and revolutionary New England. It analyzes what New Englanders said about play, pleasure and relaxation, as well as what they did between 1620 and 1790. It also places these words and deeds in the context of an evolving, complex social structure. There are chapters on reading, music, civic celebrations, dinner parties, dancing, courtship, sex, alcohol, taverns sports an games are presented. Bruce C. Daniels is the author of "The Fragmentation of New England: Comparative Perspectives on Economic, Political and Social Divisions in the Eighteenth Century".


Introduction: Puritanism, Play, and American Culture - DID PURITANS LIKE FUN? - Sober Mirth and Pleasant Poisons: Historians, Puritan Ambivalence, and the Concept of Pleasure in Early New England - INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL ENTERTAINMENT - Quiet Times: Reading for Pleasure and Profit - Music and Theater Struggle for Legitimacy - GATHERING TOGETHER - Congregational Socializing: Gathering Together at the Meetinghouse - Civic Socializing: Parties for the Common Good - MEN AND WOMEN FROLIC TOGETHER - Frolics for Fun: Dances, Weddings, and Dinner Parties - The Progress of Romance: Sex and Courtship - Drinking and Socializing: Alcohol, Taverns, and Alehouse Culture - SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES AND BARRIERS - Men Frolic by Themselves: Sport and Games in a Male Culture - The Fragmentation of Social Experience: Age, Gender, Location, and Social Class - PURITANS, REVOLUTIONARIES AND AMERICANS - The Puritan Legacy: The National Inheritance - Endnotes - Index

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