Abram Van Engen

Associate Professor, Department of English; Associate Professor of Religion and Politics (by courtesy)

My scholarship focuses on religion and literature, especially on seventeenth-century Puritans and the way they have been remembered and remade in American culture.

Abram C. Van Engen is Associate Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis and has a courtesy appointment in the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics. He specializes in early American religion, literature, and culture, focusing on Puritanism, sentimentalism, and the history of emotion. His first book, Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England, was published in spring 2015 with Oxford University Press. City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism was published in 2020 and draws religion and politics together in a biography of the 1630 Puritan sermon, A Model of Christian Charity—the sermon modern politicians cite when they refer to America as a “city on a hill.” That research led to a class for the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics studying the history of American exceptionalism from Winthrop to Obama.

Van Engen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and been supported by several honors and awards, including the 2012 Whitehill Prize in Early American History from The New England Quarterly and a 2016-17 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

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Abram Van Engen in the News