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People from a range of social positions wrote poetry in colonial Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Poets wrote about social relations between the sexes, but they also wrote about the trials and tribulations of forming social bonds between men and the manners appropriate to forming productive social bonds within a community. Ballads, one of the most popular poetic forms in early seventeenth-century England, served the purposes of colonial propagandists particularly well. The periodicals' inclusion of poetry by colonial authors marks the beginning of a poetic tradition in which the colonists themselves composed at least part, if not always all, of the imagined audience. Much of the poetry published in the major periodicals of the region deals with the relations between the sexes: many poems concern courtship or take-up the problems faced by lovers, spurned and otherwise.
Recent scholarship on providence tales, wonder tales, and spiritual autobiographies has revolutionized how we view these genres in relation to the major developments in the literary and cultural histories of the period, demonstrating the inextricable relation between these very genres and those works and authors from the period whom we consider most sophisticated and worthy of study. Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park's Wonders and the Order of Nature (1998), Mary Baine Campbell's Wonder and Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe (2004), and Barbara M. Benedict's Curiosity: A Cultural History of Inquiry (2001) have all shown the way in which these seemingly “lowbrow” genres were, in fact, integral parts of so-called “highbrow” culture during this period. In addition, each of these works of scholarship has demonstrated how the odd and unusual events presented in providence tales, wonder tales, and spiritual autobiographies played crucial roles in the transformation of the way early moderns experienced the world in which they lived. Such transformations did not sweep away the old as the new emerged, though, for older ways of organizing the world not only remained well into the modern period but, in fact, actively helped shape ways of experiencing the world we now cast as distinctly modern. Julie Crawford's Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-Reformation England (2005) and Alexandra Walsham's Providence in Early Modern England (1999) each demonstrate the continuing importance of the belief in Godly intervention deep into the so-called era of Enlightenment. The belief in such interventions in shaping the spiritual development of individuals remained as well, as D. Bruce Hindmarsh shows in The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England (2005). Hindmarsh reveals the persistence of the spiritual autobiography through the eighteenth century; he also shows that people from different races, genders, classes, and ranks tried their hand at spiritual autobiographies.
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