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Cotton Mather (1663 – 1728)

Nationality: American Periods: American: 1600-1783

Clergyman, theologian and writer

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Criticism about Cotton Mather

Shifting Signs: Increase Mather and the Comets of 1680 and 1682
“In November of 1680, a large comet appeared in the morning sky over Boston. Visible over New England until mid-February, this ‘Blazing Star’ prompted the Reverend Increase Mather to provide the Puritans of Boston with a theological explanation of the phenomenon. In the subsequent sermon Heaven’s Alarm to the World (1681), Mather sternly equates the appearance of the comet as a sign of God’s displeasure and a herald of some mysterious calamity destined to fall upon the Boston populace. Less than two years later a second comet appeared over the Boston skyline, once again prompting Increase Mather to deliver a public sermon concerning the divine and portentous nature of comets. While this second sermon, The Voice of God in Signal Providences(1682), retains much of the traditional theology evident in ‘Heaven’s Alarm,’ Mather’s ‘reading’ of the heavenly sign in “Signal Providences” undergoes an interpretive shift as the minister adapts his rhetorical position to acknowledge what he sees as a linguistic component to the comet’s presence.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Andrew P. Williams
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 1.3 (1995): 4.1-34

Biographical sites about Cotton Mather

Mather, Cotton
A n encyclopedia entry on Mather.
Contains: Sketch
Author: Columbia University Press
From: The Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth Edition. 2001.

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Last Updated Apr 29, 2013