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Elisabeth Ceppi

Mar 24, 2022

Invisible Masters

Gender, Race, and the Economy of Service in Early New England

Dartmouth College Press 2018

Early American literature scholar Elisabeth Ceppi’s thought-provoking new book, Invisible Masters: Gender, Race, and the Economy of Service in Early New England (Dartmouth College Press, 2018), rewrites the familiar narrative of the relation between Puritan religious culture and New England’s economic culture as a history of the primary discourse that connected them: service. The understanding early Puritans had of themselves as God’s servants and earthly masters was shaped by their immersion in an Atlantic culture of service and the worldly pressures and opportunities generated by New England’s particular place in it. Concepts of spiritual service and mastery determined Puritan views of the men, women, and children who were servants and slaves in that world. So, too, did these concepts shape the experience of family, labor, law, and economy for those men, women, and children—the very bedrock of their lives. This strikingly original look at Puritan culture will appeal to a wide range of Americanists and historians.

Elisabeth Ceppi is a Professor of English at Portland State University. Professor Ceppi’s research focuses on early American representations of unfreedom and what they reveal about how concepts of liberty, authority, and obedience entwine with hierarchies of gender, race, and class. 

Jerrad P. Pacatte is a Ph.D. candidate and School of Arts and Sciences Excellence Fellow in the Department of History at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. A social historian of gender, slavery, and emancipation in early America and the Atlantic World, Jerrad is currently completing his dissertation, entitled “The Work of Freedom: African American Women and the Ordeal of Emancipation in New England, 1740-1840” which examines the everyday lives, labors, and emancipation experiences of African-descended women in late-colonial and early republic New England.

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Jerrad Pacatte

Jerrad P. Pacatte is a doctoral candidate and School of Arts and Sciences Excellence Fellow in the Department of History at Rutgers.

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