Public Program, Author Talk Puritan Paradise: Eden in Massachusetts Bay & Beyond 13 May 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM 6:00 program with 5:30 reception Zachary Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English – Colorado State University Utopian Settlements Series

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 1

Thomas More’s Utopia was inspired by paradisiacal descriptions of the New World, and associations between Eden and the Americas persisted throughout the colonial period. Many of the immigrants arriving in New England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries looked to the biblical garden of Adam and Eve as a pattern of the ideal society they wished to build. Religiously-minded colonists modeled the English language after the Adamic tongue, cited Genesis during debates over natural law, and looked to the prelapsarian Eve as a physiological ideal. A belief in Eden’s historicity and the future return of paradisiacal conditions inspired Quakers to disrobe in public and led to the first judicial decision abolishing slavery in United States history. New England settlers striving to invent Eden’s perfections anew shaped American history and culture in lasting ways; their visions of paradise linger in the theology of prophets from Robert Matthews to Joseph Smith and in the enduring myth of the “self-made man.”

Zach Hutchins is Assistant Professor of English at Colorado State University, where he teaches courses on early American literature and culture. His talk will draw on research recently published in his first book, Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England (Oxford UP; 2014). Hutchins is also the author of a dozen essays that have appeared in journals such as The New England Quarterly, ELH, Shakespeare, and Early American Literature. A New England native, he returns to Massachusetts regularly to wield a clamshell hoe in the garden of his aged parents, the last two surviving Puritans. 

Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. Puritan Paradise with Zachary Hutchins is the first program in the series. Mr. Ripley's Utopia with Peter Drummey will take place on Wednesday, 20 May. Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist will take place on Wednesday, 27 May. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.