Abram Van Engen

May 7, 2020

City on a Hill

A History of American Exceptionalism

Yale University Press 2020

Abram Van Engen is an Associate Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Van Engen’s research examines early American literature, the history of emotions, Puritanism, collective memory, and American Exceptionalism. His latest book is City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism (2020), published by Yale University Press. In it, Van Engen offers a fascinating examination of John Winthrop’s A Model of Christian Charity, noting how this sermon was relatively unknown before the middle of the twentieth century. Yet, as he demonstrates by the end of the book, various historical actors, from nineteenth century antiquarians and Harvard academics to most famously Ronald Reagan, have made Winthrop’s phrase “city on a hill” an essential part of the nation’s political lexicon.
Chris Babits is an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches the intersecting histories of medicine, religion, and gender and sexuality and is currently working on his book about the history of conversion therapy in the United States.

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