The Rites of Assent examines the cultural strategies through which "America" served as a vehicle simultaneously for diversity and cohesion, fusion and fragmentation. Taking an ethnographic, cross-cultural approach, The Rites of Assent traces the meanings and purposes of "America" back to the colonial typology of mission, and specifically (in chapters on Puritan rhetoric, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and the movement from Revival to Revolution) to the legacy of early New England.
Sacvan Bercovitch is Carswell Professor of English at Harvard University and is currently the General Editor of the multi-volume Cambridge History of American Literature. His previous books include The Puritan Origins of the American Self, The American Jeremiad, and The Office "The Scarlet Letter."
"Rites of Assent may be not only Sacvan Bercovitch's most accessible book, but his most important as well. In it Bercovitch applies his influential earlier analysis of the Puritan jeremiad, the Puritan self, and the ideology of American liberal consensus to a wider range of American literature and culture. Rites of Assent will obviously be required reading for Americanists in every field." -- Gerald Graff, George M. Pullman Professor of English and Education
"For thirty years, Bercovitch has been our most insightful and provocative critic of American culture and literature. Our leading intellectual historian and discourse theorist, he has shattered the myths, exposed the hidden rituals, and explicated the religious and political rhetoric that have mystified millions for two centuries. These essays will again awaken his audience to the delusions of the American dream and leave some wishing they could go back to sleep." -- Emory Elliott, Presidential Chair of English, University of California