EMLO: The Correspondence of Richard Baxter

EMLO logoEarly Modern Letters Online has now launched its catalogue of the letters of Richard Baxter, with editorial apparatus currently relating to 8 of Baxter’s letters. Baxter’s presence in EMLO is set to increase substantially as a consequence of The Richard Baxter Correspondence Project (general editors: Johanna Harris and Alison Searle); the project will also produce a comprehensive critical edition of Baxter’s correspondence in nine volumes to be published by Oxford University Press. As the EMLO website states, ‘Through over twelve-hundred-and-sixty extant letters, ranging between 1638 and 1696, we can trace Baxter’s remarkable life and career. We also have a rare documentary insight into nearly six decades of seventeenth-century English life. Baxter’s correspondence traverses some of the most crucial decades of British cultural and constitutional history, recording the reigns of Charles I, the years of the civil wars, the Interregnum and Cromwellian Protectorate, as well as the reigns of Charles II and James II. These were also years in which, as the letters bear witness, trade, global commerce, and travel flourished, alongside key advancements in science and the chartered success of the Royal Society. In addition to his central role in his nation’s struggles over its religio-political identity, Baxter’s letters also show him to be connected to key players in all these other intellectual spheres. Although he is chiefly known, now, for his pastoral ministry and nonconformity, Baxter’s letters offer authentic and often startling insights into a complex and richly diverse life that deserves to be better known.’

Conference – Johannes A Lasco – 10-12 June 2016

Attendance registration forms are now available for the Johannes A Lasco Conference at the Dutch Church, 7 Austin Friars, London, 10-11 June 2016.

In 1550 A Lasco (1499-1560), a prominent Protestant reformer from Poland, was appointed first superintendent of the Austin Friars Church. Protestant refugees from the Low Countries were arriving in London at the time to escape absolutism, extremism and persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. As superintendent, A Lasco helped foster a refuge where they were free to gather and worship. Further details of the conference, and a list of speakers, are available on Dutch Church website,  http://www.dutchchurch.org.uk/lasco/.

Robin Gwynn – The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain

Readers of the Dissenting Experience blog will be delighted to learn about the publication of Robin Gwynn’s recent monograph, The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain: Volume I – Crisis, Renewal, and the Ministers’ Dilemma (Sussex Academic Press, 2015).

As the publisher states, ‘The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain is planned as one work to be published in three interlinking volumes (titles/publication dates detailed below). It examines the history of the French communities in Britain from the Civil War, which plunged them into turmoil, to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, after which there was no realistic possibility that the Huguenots would be readmitted to France. There is a particular focus on the decades of the 1680s and 1690s, at once the most complex, the most crucial, and the most challenging alike for the refugees themselves and for subsequent historians. The work opens with the Calvinist French-speaking communities in England caught up in the Civil War. They could not avoid it, with many of their members largely assimilated into English society by the 1640s. Generally they favoured the Parliamentarian side, but any victory was pyrrhic because the Interregnum supported the rights of Independent congregations which undermined their whole Calvinist structure. Weakened by in-fighting, in the 1660s the old-established French churches then had to reassert their right to exist in the face of a sometimes hostile restored monarchy and episcopacy, a newly licenced French church emphasizing its Anglicanism and its loyalty to the crown, and the challenges of the Plague and the Fire of London which burnt the largest French church in England to the ground. They were still staggering to find their feet when the first trickle and then the full flood of new Huguenot immigration overwhelmed them.’

Dissenting Experience conference, 14 November 2015

This is a final reminder about the ‘Dissenting Experience’ conference taking place tomorrow, Saturday 14 November 2015. For further information, please download the conference programme, get in touch via the ‘Contact us’ page, or email dissentingexperience@gmail.com

‘Dissenting Experience: Scandal, Controversy, Persecution: Shaping Dissenting Identities’, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London. The conference will consider how dissenters were named and viewed, both within and without their own communities, and what determined the formation of these identities, nationally and locally. Because the experience of dissent for both members and ministers of gathered churches was often one of negotiating scandal, controversy, and persecution, this conference will address the consequences of identifying with a dissenting church or sect, both before and after Toleration, and which factors – political and social, denominational and intellectual – helped to shape dissenting identities across the period, both individually and collectively. How dissenting identities were established, debated, and challenged, across a range of networks – denominational and sectarian, literary and scientific – and in the contexts of revolution and persecution as well as of toleration and Enlightenment, is what this conference aims to explore.

More ‘Related Publications’

Details of the following books have now been added to the ‘Related Publications‘ pages of the Dissenting Experience blog:

  • Jonathan W. Arnold, The Reformed Theology of Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) (Regent’s Park College Oxford, 2013)
  • Mark Burden, A Biographical Dictionary of Tutors at the Dissenters’ Private Academies, 1660-1729 (Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, 2013)
  • Simon J. G. Burton, The Hallowing of Logic: The Trinitarian Method of Richard Baxter’s Methodus Theologiae (Brill, 2012)
  • Elizabeth Clarke, Politics, Religion and the Song of Songs in Seventeenth-Century England (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
  • John Coffey, Exodus and Liberation: Deliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr. (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • Thomas Dixon, Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • Robin Gwynn, The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain: Volume I – Crisis, Renewal, and the Ministers’ Dilemma (Sussex Academic Press, 2015)
  • Kevin Killeen, Helen Smith and Rachel Judith Willie (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c.1530-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • Kate Narveson, Bible Readers and Lay Writers in Early Modern England: Gender and Self-Definition in an Emergent Writing Culture (Ashgate, 2012)
  • David Norbrook (ed.), The Seventeenth Century 30 (2015): Special Issue: Lucy Hutchinson (Taylor & Francis, 2015)
  • Robert Pope and D. Densil Morgan (eds), T&T Clark Companion to Nonconformity (Bloomsbury, 2013)
  • Hunter Powell, The Crisis of British Protestantism: Church Power in the Puritan Revolution, 1638-44 (Manchester University Press, 2015)
  • Baptist Church Books 1675-1810, ed. Elaine Tyler (Hertfordshire Family History Society and the Strict Baptist Historical Society, [no date])
  • A Collection of Ranter Writings: Spiritual Liberty and Sexual Freedom in the English Revolution, ed. Nigel Smith, 2nd edition, revised (Pluto Press, 2014)
  • The Complete Works of John Milton: Volume II: The 1671 Poems: Paradise Regain’d and Samson Agonistes, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • The Complete Works of John Milton: Volume III: The Shorter Poems, ed. Barbara Kiefer Lewlaski and Estelle Haan (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • The Complete Works of John Milton: Volume VIII: De Doctrina Christiana, ed. John K. Hale, Donald Cullington, Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • The Entring Book of Roger Morrice (1677-1691), ed. Mark Goldie et al., 5 vols. (Boydell, 2009)
  • Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, Part I, ed. Julia B. Griffin, 4 vols. (Routledge, 2011)
  • Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, Part II, ed. Timothy Whelan, 8 vols. (Routledge, 2011)
  • Protestant Nonconformist Texts, ed. R. Tudur Jones et al., 4 vols. (Ashgate, 2006-7)

The Dissenting Experience editors are currently looking for other examples of monographs, essay collections, or editions relating to early modern puritanism, nonconformity, and dissent. If you would like your work to be considered for inclusion please email dissentingexperience@gmail.com .


Enlightening Enthusiasm

We are pleased to announce the publication of Lionel Laborie’s monograph, Enlightening Enthusiasm: Prophecy and Religious Experience in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Manchester University Press, 2015).

‘In the summer 1706, three Protestant refugees from the last French war of religion arrived in London to prophesy the fall of Rome and Christ’s imminent Second Coming. They claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, experienced bodily agitations and sought to revive the apostolic Church. Within two years, these ‘French Prophets’ counted nearly 500 followers, including Huguenots, Anglicans, Philadelphians, Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists, Quietists and even Jews. Their movement launched missionary tribes after failing to resurrect one of their members from the dead and spread across Europe. They remained active in Britain until the late 1740s, reappearing sporadically among the first Methodists, Moravians and Shakers.

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The French Prophets sparked one of the greatest controversies in eighteenth-century England, marked by a prodigious battle of pamphlets on revealed religion and miracles, violent riots and a political trial. They were branded as ‘enthusiasts’, then a derogatory label for religious fanaticism, but one whose modern representation largely draws upon the hostile discourse of Augustan moralists.

This book examines the nature of religious enthusiasm against the backdrop of the early English Enlightenment. It offers the first comprehensive approach to enthusiasm by looking at this multifarious issue from a social, religious, cultural, political and medical perspective. Based on new archival research, it challenges our modern understanding of this originally infamous term by dissociating religious experience from millenarianism, radical dissent and popular religion, to shed new light on the reality of enthusiasm in early Enlightenment England.’

The book can be ordered from the publisher’s website, http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9780719089886

InvenCaP Blog – Church Books and their Copies

By Mark Burden

I am pleased to report that InvenCaP’s initial survey of dissenting records in national and local record offices is now complete. During this early stage of the project it has been important to consider in some detail the relationship between original documents and later copies. As well as locating approximately 250 original church books, registers, and financial account books from the period 1640-1714, we have now compiled an inventory of over 100 significant manuscript copies of these documents. These copies, which currently only include complete or near-complete transcriptions of church books and registers, have often been relied on by historians, and are sometimes assumed to be the earliest documents of their kind. Such confusion must undoubtedly have led to mistakes in genealogies and church chronologies for several centuries, and it seems highly probably that the ideological assumptions of these later copies have also had an impact upon both diachronic and synchronic histories of dissent more broadly. Of equal significance to the Puritan Experience project would be a detailed consideration of the changes in narrative emphasis and structure between each source and its copies. Such changes can manifest themselves in the reordering and retitling of material, as well as in the rewording of key documents; more subtly, the changed function of information within a document can be affected by the identity and orthographic choices of the scribe, the quality of the paper and binding, and the slippage between autograph signatures and copies.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – Church Books and their Copies

Reliquiae Baxterianae: Online Exhibition

The wonderful online exhibition devoted to the Reliquiae Baxterianae is now online from the Google Cultural Institute and provides a wealth of information about the Baxter manuscripts, their state of preservation, their successive editions, as well as the reception of Baxter’s œuvre and much else besides.

Capture d’écran 2015-10-04 à 11.44.43Completed with filmed interviews by the team members and staff of Dr Williams’s Library.

The exhibition is beautifully curated, as well as entertaining, and is a mine of information for anybody with an interest in early-modern dissenting culture. We highly recommend it!

See: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/exhibit/-AJC4CrPoff9KA?position=7%3A0

BSECS 2016: Writing, Religion, and Enlightenment Panel

Call for Papers: Writing, Religion, and Enlightenment panel at BSECS 2016 (St Hugh’s College, Oxford, 6th-8th January 2016)

The focus of this panel is the relationship between writing and religion in the period of the Enlightenment (broadly interpreted). We invite proposals for 20 minute papers on this theme in relation to texts, from the canonical to the unpublished, connected with or produced by different religious denominations and communities (Anglican, Dissenting, Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Quaker and others). We are open to methodological approaches drawn from different disciplines, but the central concerns of the panel are: i) The ways in which individuals and groups represent and live their religious faith and identity through the reading, writing, and dissemination of texts; and ii) critical analysis of texts that might be termed ‘religious’ with a particular attention to language, form and genre.

Additional questions that the panel might address include, but are not limited to:

  • How were religious genres including hymnody, sermon and prayer conceived of in the period? What differentiates them from genres in the secular tradition?
  • How do religious writers imagine their readers?
  • How can religious texts be situated within the textual landscape of the Enlightenment? And in what ways do they engage with key Enlightenment debates (including, for example, ideas of self and of agency, rationality, and forms of knowledge)?
  • How do eighteenth-century writers validate their religious writing, and on what grounds do they negotiate the internal and external authority of their work?
  • How might we counter claims that religious writing fails to conform to the ideal of the literary?
  • What are the advantages/limitations of seeking to recuperate close reading and form-based criticism as an alternative to the historicist monopoly over the study of religious literature?
  • What can we learn from an investigation of religious writing that might influence our analysis of literary texts more broadly?

This panel represents the latest in a series of events organised by the panel chairs, and suitable papers will be considered for a planned publication comprising a journal special edition on this theme in 2017.

Abstracts of 250 words or fewer should be submitted by midnight on 11th October 2015 to L.I.Davies@soton.ac.uk

Details of the BSECS Annual Conference can be found at http://www.bsecs.org.uk/