Current Projects

Research by the ‘Dissenting Experience’ Collaborators

Anne Dunan-Page (Aix-Marseille): Congregational and Baptist Church Life. For the past five years, as part of a research project funded by the Institut Universitaire de France, I have been working on the  records of Dissenting Churches, and especially the practice and performance of narratives of ‘experience’. The idea is to establish which congregations insisted on a narrative and their motives for doing so, to reconstruct the performance of narratives by founding members of the gathered Churches and later narratives by members who were progressively added to those Churches. Of particular interest is the matter of how experiences were related, in which congregations, in what architectural (domestic or ecclesial) surroundings, for how long… The monograph will appear in French with the provisional title, L’expérience protestante. Vie et foi des dissidents britanniques. I’m particularly interested in dissenting rituals, from the gathering of the Churches to baptism, and the ordination of the ministers. I’m currently President of the International John Bunyan Society.

Michael Davies (Liverpool): The focus of my current research is the edition I’m preparing for Oxford University Press, The Bunyan Church Book 1656-1710: a scholarly text, based on a fresh transcription, of A Booke Containing a Record of the Acts of a Congregation of Christ in and about Bedford.  A research grant provided by the AHRC has allowed me to transcribe the text directly from the original manuscript, currently on display in the Bunyan Museum, Bedford, and to explore in more detail – and in some cases for the first time – the lives and identities of key members of Bunyan’s church, through wills, court records, apprentice rolls, and other archival material mainly held at the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service. I’ve also taken the opportunity to read and examine many other early church books held in records offices and libraries across the country, and to re-think how and where Bunyan’s church can be situated in relation to both them and the contexts – religious and political, ecclesiological and epistolary – in which they were written.  This research informs the scholarly apparatus of the edition: its textual and explanatory notes, as well as the introduction and appendices.  The aim is to present the Church Book, more clearly than ever before, as a key interpretative resource for understanding Bunyan’s life and writings as well as the workings of his congregation before, during, and after the Restoration. Concurrent with my preparation of The Bunyan Church Book, I am editing The Oxford Handbook of John Bunyan (also for Oxford University Press): a collection of over 40 new essays on Bunyan’s works, contexts, and influences, written by leading experts in Bunyan studies from around the world.

Joel Halcomb (East Anglia): Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia. His research focuses on religious practice and religious politics in Britain and Ireland during the British Civil Wars. He was an Assistant Editor for The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643–1653 (2012, with Chad Van Dixhoorn, Mark Garcia, and Inga Jones) and is currently co-editor of volume three of The Writing and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (2015, with Patrick Little and David Smith). He is also preparing a monograph on the Congregational movement during the Civil Wars.

Mark Burden (Aix-Marseille): I am currently helping to compile an inventory of dissenting church books in England and Wales for the period 1640-1714, with a view to producing a calendar of these manuscripts, together with Anne Page, Michael Davies, and Joel Halcombe. I am also assistant editor for A History of Dissenting Academies in the British Isles, ed. Isabel Rivers (Cambridge University Press, under contract).  I have published A Biographical Dictionary of Tutors at the Dissenters’ Private Academies (DWCDS, 2013), and articles on ‘Theology and Education’ (Southern History, 2013), ‘John Walker’ (in Settling the Peace of the Church, ed. N. H. Keeble (OUP, 2014)), and ‘Lucy Hutchinson and Puritan Education’ (The Seventeenth Century, 2015). Prior to my current appointment I have taught in the English departments at Queen Mary University of London and Portsmouth University, and I was the MHRA research associate for the Lucy Hutchinson Project, University of Oxford.

Rachel Adcock (Keele): I have recently published a monograph, Baptist Women’s Writings in Revolutionary Culture: 1640-1680 (Ashgate, 2015), which examines women’s written experiences and prophecies in light of accounts by heresiographers and the debates in church record books, and published essays on this research in Prose Studies and The Seventeenth Century among others. Following the publication of the co-edited anthology, Flesh and Spirit: An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Women’s Writing (MUP, 2014), I am now preparing a co-edited collection of essays on Women, Religion, and the Body in Early Modernity to which I am contributing an essay on representations of baptism and health. I am also editing two plays for The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn and researching women’s role in post-Restoration dissent more generally