This essay uses the work of Jonathan Edwards to trace intellectual, historical, and theoretical connections between eighteenth-century religious conversion in England and New England and later accounts of masochism's Enlightenment philosophical basis. Expanding feminist readings of revival abjection to include racial abjection, I focus on Edwards's account of religious sentiment in a “Personal Narrative” (ca. 1739), A Faithful Narrative of the Surprizing Works of God (1736–37), and Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England (1742). Situating these texts in their philosophical and political contexts, I then use A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1746) to show how Edwards's evolving response to revivalist disruptions of hierarchy led him to describe a sentimental structure of desire similar to masochism as a defense against a modern subjectivity that would allow for masochism.
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Mark J. Miller; Jonathan Edwards, Affective Conversion, and the Problem of Masochism. GLQ 1 October 2012; 18 (4): 565–594. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-1600734
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