Memory’s ends: Thinking as grace in Thomas Hooker’s new England

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This essay examines the role of memory in the theology of first-generation New England divine Thomas Hooker. Drawing particular attention to Hooker’s application of imagistic and dialectical mnemonics in his well-known but controversial doctrine of “preparation,” it discovers a Puritan theory of grace that sought to come closer to God by escaping idolatrous thinking, on the one hand, and mechanistic cognition, on the other. Reconceiving Hooker’s preparation as a memorial style and placing that ars memoria at the center of transatlantic Puritan controversies about grace, the essay provides a new model for reading Puritanism not as the start of an American telos but at the end of a European intellectual inheritance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-722
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Literature
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Grace (theology)
  • Memory (models for)
  • Preparation (doctrine of)
  • Puritanism
  • Seventeenth century
  • Sixteenth century
  • Thomas Hooker (1586–1647)


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