Cover: Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America, from Harvard University PressCover: Circles and Lines in HARDCOVER

The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in American Studies 2004

Circles and Lines

The Shape of Life in Early America

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Product Details


$21.50 • £17.95 • €19.50

ISBN 9780674013247

Publication Date: 05/28/2004


112 pages

2 halftones, 3 line illustrations

The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in American Studies


Seventeenth-century America was governed by natural cycles, explains the aptly surnamed social historian John Demos in Circles and Lines… Over time, the circularity of early American life straightened out—or did it flatten? Concluding this brief but satisfying meditation, erstwhile city-dweller Demos mentions his own recent rustication and urges us to remember the circles, cycles and seasons of the old America.—Bill Kauffman, The Wall Street Journal

In this brief book, the eminent Yale social historian of Colonial America provides ruminations based on his readings and reflections. Demos suggests that three divergent world views were extant in early America…Demos’s nuanced study shows the transition from an earlier restricted circular point of reference to a more linear view.—Frederick J. Augustyn, Jr., Library Journal

With his customary grace and inventiveness, John Demos excavates the bedrock assumptions of early Americans: their notions of the good life, of progress, of human destiny. Ranging from the intimate circles of family life to the broadest lines of our national history, Circles and Lines offers a new way of apprehending the colonial past and raises new questions about the ways we imagine our own futures as well.—Jane Kamensky, Brandeis University

From what was dark about the Prince of Darkness to what was new about the New World, Demos’s Circles and Lines takes readers on a fascinating tour of the daily wonders of the world of early Americans. Elegant, as always.—Jill Lepore, author of The Name of War and A Is for American

This book is vintage Demos—intimate, imaginative, and committed to probing the interior lives of people long dead. Even better, it exemplifies the generosity of spirit that animates Demos’s teaching as well as his writing. Who knows better how to pry open aspects of early life so basic that no one thought to comment on them?—Laurel Ulrich, author of Age of Homespun and A Midwife’s Tale

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