Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace

New England Crime Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674-1860
Illuminates early American consciousness and culture through a reading of New England crime literature


In this innovative study, Daniel A. Cohen explores a major cultural shift embodied in hundreds of early New England crime publications. Tracing the declining authority of Puritan ministers, he shows how the arbiters of an increasingly pluralistic literary marketplace gradually supplanted pious execution sermons with last-speech broadsides, gallows verses, criminal autobiographies, trial reports, newspaper stories, and romantic docudramas. Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace probes the forgotten origins of our modern mass media’s preoccupation with crime and punishment.

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