Friday, 7 September 2012

Reformation Studies

Now recovering from the Reformation Studies Colloquium in Durham, just held from 4-6 September, which if I say so myself was pretty good. I'd pick out two of the short communications that I heard as really outstanding:

Robert Harkins of UC Berkeley, Ethan Shagan's doctoral student, gave a cracking paper titled 'The Legacy of Marian Nicodemism'; really exciting stuff. He took the conventional idea that 'Puritan' was in origin an allusion to Novatianism, and suggested that this remained its beating heart through the Elizabethan period: that underneath it all, the Puritans' real gripe was that all these people who were now pretending to be all holy had conformed during Mary's reign and not repented of having done so. And he had some great archival work underlying it.

And Susan Royal, my own doctoral student, who gave a paper on Lollardy and 17th-century dissent: not looking at (yawn) the prosopographical or other direct connections, but the theological ones. She showed not just that the Quakers and many others are heavily citing Lollard precedents, but that they are doing so through Foxe's Book of Martyrs , and that Foxe himself deliberately includes lots of radical-sounding material on oaths, tithes and other subjects from the Lollards which goes well beyond Elizabethan orthodoxy. Was Foxe a radical himself? No ... but as Susan was arguing he's not exactly a straight-up-and-down magisterial reformer either. I think the notion that Foxe simply tidies up and edits out radical material from his sources is now unsustainable.

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