City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism, by Abram Van Engen

  • Thursday, September 2, 2021
  • 3:00 PM–4:00 PM
  • Online Only

Based on his most recent book published in 2020, Professor Abram Van Engen will show how the phrase “city on a hill,” appearing in an obscure 1630 Puritan sermon by Massachusetts Bay governor John Winthrop, shaped the story of American exceptionalism in the 20th century. Now considered one of the most famous sermons in American history, in its own day, Winthrop's text was almost entirely forgotten and unknown. This sermon’s rags to riches rise reveals the way national stories take shape and shows us how they continue to influence competing visions of the country—the many different meanings of America that emerge from its literary past.

Abram Van Engen, a Calvin University graduate, is Professor of English and (by courtesy) Professor of Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Van Engen has published widely on religion and literature, focusing especially on seventeenth-century Puritans and the way they have been remembered and remade in American culture.