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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Utopian

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Activities: Author Activities

John Winthrop - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: Winthrop's Journal chronicles a number of the problems and controversies that challenged the early settlers at Massachusetts Bay. What kinds of external and internal threats undermined the unity of the group? What happened to people who deviated from orthodox religious tenets? What rhetorical strategies does Winthrop adopt when characterizing people whose beliefs were different from his own?

  2. Context: The "Model of Christian Charity" was composed before Winthrop and the Puritans disembarked in Massachusetts. How do the hopes and values the sermon espouses compare to the realities Winthrop later recorded in his Journal? Does Winthrop's sense of the community's mission and his own responsibility to further it change over time?

  3. Exploration: Why has Winthrop's metaphor of the "City on a Hill" had so much influence on American culture? Do you see evidence of the endurance of this idea within contemporary public discourse?

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