Introduction
Religion and life cycles in early modern England
in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
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The introduction lays out the aim of the volume: to explore the intersections between religion and the passage of life in early modern England. The term ‘life cycle’ is interpreted broadly, to include rituals, sacraments and everyday observance; biological transition points such as birth and death; life stages such as childhood or adolescence; and the passage of time and the process of ageing. The interdisciplinary scope of the volume brings together chapters which examine how early modern people conceived of the relationship between faith and lived experience, and how religious practice both shaped and was influenced by the stages and passages of the life cycle in different textual and material forms. The book includes chapters on Catholic, Protestant and Jewish communities, to encourage cross-confessional comparison between life stages and rites of passage which were of religious significance to those belonging to all faiths. In sum, it offers broader interpretations of the life cycle, religious practice and confessional identity than appear in existing studies in this area. At the same time, by positioning chapters from historians, art historians, and English literary scholars alongside each other, it consolidates a range of approaches and means of framing these events and practices.

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