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William Bradford: Annotated Bibliography


ABSTRACT: This annotated bibliography serves the purpose of letting students find sources that are helpful. For example, these books and articles deal more with the typology and ideology of the Puritans. This is necessary for any person that wants to study William Bradford or Puritan literature

American National Biography Online. American National Biography Online. Web. 23 July 2013.

        This is an essential database for biographical information on William Bradford. It is a necessity to understand his life and Puritan ideology to write anything about him. The database goes into detail of Bradford’s growth from a farmer to his eventual religious descent. Bradford went to meetings with Reverend Richard Clyfton. Bradford’s biography is especially helpful with grasping the literary value that exists in Of Plymouth Plantation. American National Bibliography Online says: The designation “Pilgrims” derives from Bradford’s poignant memory (echoing Hebrews 11:13-16) of leaving Leiden, “that goodly and pleasante citie, which had been their resting place near 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrimes, and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest cuntrie, and quieted their spirits.” The passage, typical of Bradford’s best prose, expresses his sense of the dependence of human actions and affairs on divine providence” (Web). Of course the passage elaborates on divine providence; yet, the bibliography gives an account of William Bradford’s life that is incredibly important to any scholar. One must know the man to delve forward into research about the Pilgrims.

Anderson, Douglas. William Bradford’s Books: Of Plimmoth Plantation and the Printed Word. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2003. Print.

         Douglas Anderson’s, William Bradford’s Books is a wealth of information when it comes to understanding Bradford’s “agenda.” Anderson points out problems with newer translations of the text. This is quite interesting, because almost any undergraduate reads a modernized version of the text. In fact, many of us do. Anderson’s book delves into the constraints modernity inflicts in Of Plymouth Plantation; or, as it was originally spelled, Of Plimmoth Plantation. Anderson believes that the translated text should be eschewed. He says: “As these chapters repeatedly emphasize, Of Plimmoth Plantation is the product of a particular literary world and rewards most generously those who approach its language with the practices and expectations of that world firmly in mind” (vii). Thus, he does analyze the text more from a manuscript–or what is left of it–point of view. Furthermore, he doesn’t judge the work with any presentism and expands upon the ideological views of Bradford and the Pilgrims that followed him. He does this with great respect and makes this resource a plethora of knowledge in Puritan scholarship.

Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953. Print.

        This is the primary work of William Bradford. This is the sine qua non of the history of the Puritans–even more so the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock. Bradford’s account of what is often considered the first book of American History. Yet, it should also be understood that this is an early look at American literature. The very pathos that Bradford puts into his account of the Pilgrim’s voyage, and settlement of America, is truly literary. Yet, the ideals of the Puritans and their typology, makes the book seem cruel. A reader sees the beginnings of American genocide, hatred, and flawed ideologies at work. In this capacity it is very important to keep Walter Wenska’s article on Puritan typology in mind. Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation is a necessity for any scholar to read to understand Puritan values and ideologies. It has been noted as a quintessential reading of Early American literature from many early scholars, such as Cotton Mather.

Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation. Oxford [England]: Oxford UP, 2004. Print.

         Jim Cullen’s 2003 work deals with the “American Dream” starting with the Puritans through present times. Cullen expands on many Puritanical subjects, such as the Antinomian crisis, Calvinism, religious tolerance, and the splits and conflicts among the Puritans. Of course, his delving into Calvinism is very proper; for the Puritans did believe in a predetermined destiny. Therefore, their ideology is based on the fact that people are already chosen to go to Heaven, Furthermore, it expands on William Bradford as he believes that the term “Puritanism” is “lacking” (14) and says that it encompasses much more than the usual suspects, such as Bradford. It further goes on to posit that the Puritans were so concerned with religious separatism that they thought their children would be corrupted if they stayed in England (16). However, the book uses Puritanism and Bradford as a stepping stone for what comes of the American Dream–which is very violent. He examines the early American period, through Manifest Destiny, and even to the present. This is necessary for any reader to fully grasp the central ideas of Puritanism, and how we hold on to those ideals to this day. As Cullen says: [T]he American Dream retains enormous relevance and appeal in contemporary America” (191). This book illuminates how this has happened and further fits into the American notion that “God is on our side.”

Wenska, Walter P. “Bradford’s Two Histories: Pattern and Paradigm in ‘Of Plymouth Plantation.'” Early American Literature 13.2 (1978): 151-64. Print.

        Walter P. Wenska examines Puitan typology and ideology in this article. It’s a perfect resource for knowing how the Pilgrims felt about the rights to land and the Native Americans they encountered. The article is an excellent tool to discover how Wenska’s beliefs on how William Bradford dealt with Puritan ideologies and, as mentioned before, typologies which is helpful to getting to the core of what being a Pilgrim meant. There is no more in depth journal entry that I have found on these beliefs than Wenska’s article—even for it’s brief page numbers. It is thought provoking, well written, and certainly useful for understanding all the ideals in Of Plymouth Plantation. Wenska challenges other scholars and really puts a new foundation of Puritan typologies in the conversation in academia by reading the book in a way that is not oppressive or dismissive of the Puritan lifestyle; nor the Puritanical ideology that accompanies it. Out of all of the foci the article studies, it certainly sheds light on Puritanical typology.


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