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Joscelyn Godwin: Eccentric Spiritualities in Early New York State

By Upstate Institute on January 1, 2010
Professor Joscelyn Godwin

Joscelyn Godwin

The following is a faculty research project supported by the Upstate Institute:

Joscelyn Godwin, Professor of Music

Professor Godwin is writing a manuscript on some of the eccentric spiritualities in the Upstate New York region, which was once known as the “Burned-Over District” for its history of religious revivals such as the Oneida Community.

Godwin will examine some of the lesser-known communities and discuss the reasons these communities happened in their time and place, such as the opening of the western corridor through the Erie Canal and rapid growth of cities along the corridor, and a general awakening that favored women’s rights, the abolition of slavery and the temperance movement. He will also indicate how these eccentric spiritualities fit within the history of religions, and how they often involve a rejection of the Christian emphasis on sin and redemption in favor of a claim for perfection attainable in this life and follow the openness of 19th century science to a non-materialist world view. His goal in conducting this research is to create knowledge about this part of Upstate New York history, making it better understood, appreciated and enjoyed by residents and visitors of the region.

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