3. The Popularity of Doom

From Wigglesworth, Poe, and Stowe through The Da Vinci Code

  1. Elisa New

Published Online: 28 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118854587.ch3

New England Beyond Criticism

New England Beyond Criticism

How to Cite

New, E. (ed) (2014) The Popularity of Doom, in New England Beyond Criticism, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118854587.ch3

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 MAR 2014
  2. Published Print: 9 MAY 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118854532

Online ISBN: 9781118854587



  • Da Vinci Code;
  • Day of Doom;
  • Edgar Allan Poe;
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe;
  • Michael Wigglesworth


Michael Wigglesworth's Day of Doom was early New England's one runaway bestseller. Familiarity with it provided crucial evidences of faith. The poem's use of setting and spatiotemporal imagery is its first and most striking innovation. Wigglesworth's poem achieved its effects by operationalizing exegesis as a mode of suspense. After Wigglesworth, no one reanimates and exploits the mass potential of Christian apocalypse better than Edgar Allan Poe. In the rationalist turn against Calvinist awe, Poe finds unexploited literary real estate, and in the material of New England faith, a cabinet of repurposable props. Stowe's plotting of Uncle Tom's Cabin along an up–down/North– South/Heaven–Hell axis and her calibration of moral quality with temporal prescience show her exploiting all the spatiotemporal tools Wigglesworth bestowed on her.