International John Bunyan Society: registration for the regional day conference

The registration is open for:

PRISONS AND PRISON WRITING IN EARLY MODERN BRITAIN

A Regional Day Conference of the International John Bunyan Society, organized in association with the University of Bedfordshire, Keele University, and Northumbria University

Northumbria University, Newcastle, Monday 10 April 2017

For the programme and registration details, click here.

Dr Williams’s Library 2017 programme

Wednesday 22nd March, 2017 (5:15pm–6:45pm)

‘Behold, how great a fire a little matter kindleth!’: Dissenting Silver in the Collection of Dr Williams’s Library

Dr Helen Clifford, Curator of Swaledale Museum North Yorkshire

Thursday 4th May, 2017 (4:00pm–7:00pm)

Database Launch: GEMMS: The Gateway to Early Modern Manuscript Sermons

Professor Jeanne Shami, Regina

Dr Anne James, Regina

Booking required

Saturday 20th May, 2017 (10:00am–5:00pm)

Conference: Evangelicalism and Dissent

Robert Strivens (London Seminary), ‘Dissent and the Origins of the Evangelical Revival’

Martin Wellings (Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford), ‘Wesleyan Methodism and Dissent’

Timothy Larsen (Wheaton College, Illinois), ‘Congregationalists and Crucicentrism’

John Maiden (Open University), ‘The New Nonconformity’

Booking required

Wednesday 14th June, 2017 (5:15pm–6:45pm)

Professor Ann Hughes, Keele

Title to be announced.

Further details: conference@dwlib.co.uk

CFP: Prison/exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe

Call for Papers: Prison/Exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe
10–11 March 2017 | Ertegun House, University of Oxford
 
This conference seeks to explore the relationship between space, identity, and religious belief in early modern Europe, through the correlative yet distinct experiences of imprisonment and exile. The organisers welcome all paper proposals that explore the phenomena of imprisonment and exile in the early modern period, especially those that relate these modalities of control to the complex and evolving religious thought of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. At a time when incarceration or exile was a distinct possibility, even likelihood, for many of Europe’s innovative thinkers, how did the experience of imprisonment or banishment influence the texts—theological, political, and literary—produced in the early modern period? How did early modern individuals inhabit, conceptualise, and represent “unfree” space? How does the spatial turn help us to investigate the impact of the confines of prison or the exile’s physical separation from their community on the production and development of religious thought? Does imprisonment or exile exaggerate polemical language and heighten sectarian differences, or induce censorship and temper dissenting voices?
 
Keynote lectures will be given by Professor Rivkah Zim (King’s College, London) and Professor Bruce Gordon (Yale University).
 
We invite 20-minute papers, from literary, historical, theological, and interdisciplinary perspectives, on these themes. We are especially interested in papers connecting imprisonment and exile, and in those linking physical spaces with the world of ideas and texts. 
 
Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:
 
– prison writings and literature produced in exile
– the emergence of the prison as a mode of punishment, including responses to the work of Michel Foucault, Norbert Elias, and other theorists
– the utility of the genre of prison writings, alongside considerations of audience, reception, and intention
– spatial confines of imprisonment
– captivity, relationships between captor and captive, cultural issues arising from captivity
– mental and physical separation from community
– distinctions and connections between imprisonment and exile
– monastic prisons
– literary consolation
– literary and figurative conceptualisations of imprisonment and exile
– mental and physical isolation, and afflictions experienced whilst incarcerated
– imprisonment or exile as themes or images in theology and exegesis
 
The organisers, Spencer Weinreich, Chiara Giovanni, and Anik Laferrière, look forward to receiving proposals, particularly from postgraduate students and early career researchers, and are glad to answer any queries. Proposals should include a title and abstract of a maximum of 250 words, and should be sent to prisonexileoxford@gmail.com by 9 January 2017.

International John Bunyan Society Study Day

A Regional Day Conference of the International John Bunyan Society, organized in association with the University of Bedfordshire, Keele University, and Northumbria University will take place at Northumbria University, Newcastle, Monday 10 April 2017.

The theme is :

PRISONS AND PRISON WRITING IN EARLY MODERN BRITAIN

For more information and to download the CFP, please click here.

 

Obituary: Rev. Dr. Harold Worthley

Rev. Dr. Harold Worthley sadly passed this October. Dr. Worthley was director of the Congregational Library in Boston, Massachusetts for more than a quarter century.

He was also the first to inventory Massachusetts congregational church records. He was a forerunner, therefore, of our partner project, New England’s Hidden Histories, hosted by the Congregational Library in Boston, and our own Inventory of Puritan and Dissenting Church Records.

His work has been essential to students of colonial Massachusetts for decades. An obituary on Dr Worthley’s remarkable life can be found in the Boston Globe here.

 

InvenCaP Blog – Reformation Principles and the Puritan Church Books of the 1650s

By Mark Burden

Although they have been widely consulted by church historians and historians of religion, the role played by Puritan church records of the 1650s in the furtherance of personal, church, and national reformation has rarely been assessed. The following account has been compiled in response to a highly productive conference on the 1650s convened by Fiona McCall at the University of Portsmouth. The conference discussed, among many other matters, the nature and extent of Episcopalian and Puritan church records during the 1650s, the importance of the national surveys of religion undertaken by the Protectorate, and the need for an adequate catalogue of manuscripts and other material objects dating from the period. In response to that conversation, this post is intended to provide nothing more than a very preliminary sketch of the material available for studying the Puritan churches, and its potential uses for understanding the highly elastic concept of ‘reformation’ as it developed across the decade. As will be immediately evident, very substantial research needs to be carried out on these records before any wider conclusions may be drawn.

The Dissenting Experience Inventory of Puritan records indicates that there are approximately 70 surviving church books and registers containing material relating to the 1640s and 1650s. This figure is open to the usual caveats: it would be substantially smaller if all copy records were excluded, but would be substantially higher if it were possible to include every copy of every 1650s document located in nineteenth and twentieth-century church books. The materials contained in the church records already listed in the Inventory include church histories, chronological registers and alphabet books (births, baptisms, church membership, marriages, deaths, burials), family trees, covenants, confessions, rules, orders, acts, disciplinary cases, minutes of church meetings, minutes of regional assemblies, letters, testimonials, cases of conscience, propositions, queries, admissions, dismissals, and countless examples of marginalia and corrections. Most of these records can be categorised into four types: histories, registers, covenants and confessions, and minutes of meetings. Each of these genres contributed to the church’s sense of itself as a reformed collective, and each genre exposed the different pressures, whether external or internal, which emerged as an inevitable consequence of the congregation’s self-representation as a church of Christ.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – Reformation Principles and the Puritan Church Books of the 1650s

InvenCaP Blog – A Spur to Lukewarm Spirits: The ‘Proceedings Book of Meetings in East Devon, chiefly at Loughwood, 1653-1795’

By Rachel Adcock

On 14 February 1654 the Baptist church that would later meet regularly at Loughwood, East Devon, gathered at nearby Kilmington and recorded the first entry in what is now known and catalogued in the Devon Heritage Centre as a ‘proceedings book’. These earliest records reveal the gathered church’s immediate concerns: strengthening their local church community (which extended to Honiton and Ottery St Mary in the west, Colyton in the south, and Axminster to the east), and building links with other Baptist communities in Britain and Ireland. As indicated by the records, many members had expressed a ‘greivance’ that the church was without a pastor, and James Hitt, one of the congregation’s elders, was instructed to ‘draw upp an Epistle’ (DHCE 3700D/M/1, p. 7) to send to John Pendarves, a Particular Baptist minister who had successfully set up the Abingdon Association of Berkshire churches in 1652, and would continue to share millenarian views with many of the Baptists in the West Country region where he was born. It is not hard to see why the church wanted Pendarves as their minister: he was a popular, if controversial, preacher, shared a preoccupation with millenarianism with some of its leading members (of which more below), and had proven organisational abilities. Pendarves was to turn down the church’s request, visiting and corresponding the with church and their brethren at Lyme Regis but remaining in Abingdon until he died in 1656, but it remained clear to the members gathering at Kilmington that they needed to reform their practices: they concluded that they would follow 1 Corinthians 14:29 (‘Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge’) and thereby ‘try’ doctrine in the church, and cure the ‘deadness uppon the spirits of the membrs in generall’ by establishing an extra monthly fast day for ‘weighty causes laid before us by our Brethren of Ireland’ (DHCE 3700D/M/1, p. 7).

‘Deadness’ in spirit, manifesting itself in neglect of office and attendance, was to become a particular focus in the church’s efforts to strengthen and reform their church: in the following September, they more formally set out the ‘p[ar]ticular evills’ they wanted to address, which included ‘gen[er]all lukwarmenesse which hath seized the spiritts of many of us’ (DHCE 3700D/M/1, p. 11), ‘want of love to, and care of each othr in the Lord’, neglect of scripture, ‘sinfull complyance yt is with ye world’, the ‘greate neglect’ of assembling together, and ‘greate backwardnesse’ in charitable activities. For the rest of the decade, the church gathering at Loughwood would use their ‘proceedings book’ to record the measures taken to address attendance, charitable activities (members of the church continued to raise money for their meeting house – still in existence, picture below – and for members facing particular economic trials), and the substance of meetings, but it may also be understood as a way of formalising and demarcating this godly community in difficult times.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – A Spur to Lukewarm Spirits: The ‘Proceedings Book of Meetings in East Devon, chiefly at Loughwood, 1653-1795’