Douglas L. Winiarski

Darkness Falls on the Land of Light

Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth Century New England

University of North Carolina Press 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network May 29, 2018 Lilian Calles Barger

Douglas L. Winiarski is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond and winner of the 2018 Bancroft Prize in American history...

Douglas L. Winiarski is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond and winner of the 2018 Bancroft Prize in American history for his book Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth Century New England (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). Winiarski has written a masterful and detailed narrative of the Great Awakening ushered in by the evangelical and charismatic preacher George Whitfield.  Beginning with the established churches of New England, he offers a clear portrait of a highly structured and regulated communal and religious life centered in the Congregational churches. From birth to death parishioners found their place and the meaning of life by participating in prescribed religious and social practices. Whitfield, and many itinerate preachers following in his wake, renounced the establish churches as false and proclaim individual direct experience of the Holy Spirit unleashing a torrent of dramatic conversions, ecstatic expression, chaos and division in the churches. New converts demands for proof of a spiritual awakening and theological battles forever changed New England social and religious landscape. Winiarski has written a riveting account of the religious convulsions experienced by individuals and communities laying the foundation for American evangelical attitudes toward authority and the nature of our common life.

This episode of New Books in American Studies was produced in cooperation with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.


Lilian Calles Barger is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology, forthcoming August 2018 from Oxford University Press.

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