I really enjoyed engaging with Rivka Maizlish's recent post at U.S. Intellectual History, "Rethinking the Head-Heart Dichotomy in American History." I especially appreciated the way she used Thomas Jefferson as a window into the way so-called "men of reason" in early America spent a lot of time wrestling with their passions. Drawing on the work of Nicole Eustace in Passion is the Gale, Maizlish urges historians to "unsettle their categories of reason, emotion, and Enlightenment." Here is a taste:
As longtime readers of this blog know, these are issues that I used to think about a lot (and continue to think about, although not as much) when I was writing The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America. In that book I tried to explore the way Presbyterian evangelicals embraced the Enlightenment and how one particular Presbyterian (Fithian) tried to balance Presbyterian sobriety, evangelical passion, romantic love, homesickness, cosmopolitan ambitions, the pursuit of gentility and an "enlightened life."