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Religion and life cycles in early modern England examines intersections between religion and all stages of the life course. It considers rites of passage that shaped an individual’s life, such as birth, death, marriage and childbirth. It investigates everyday lived experiences including attending school and church, going to work, praying, writing letters and singing hymns. It sets examples from different contexts alongside each other and traces how different religious confessions were impacted by the religious and political changes that occurred in the two centuries following the Reformation. These approaches demonstrate the existence of multiple and overlapping understandings of the life cycle in early modern England. The collection is structured around three phases: birth, childhood and youth; adulthood and everyday life; and the dying and the dead. Coexisting with the bodily life cycle were experiences which formed the social life cycle such as schooling, joining a profession, embarking on travel abroad, marriage, parenthood and widowhood. Woven through these occurrences, an individual’s religious life cycle can be seen: the occasions when they were welcomed into a particular faith; when they were tempted to convert; when they joined the ministry or a convent. Early modern individuals often reflected on times they personally acknowledged to have transformed their life or events which instigated their spiritual awakening. They did so creatively in diaries, letters, plays, portraits, diagrams, sermons, poetry and hymns. In this interdisciplinary collection, the complex meanings of life-cycle events for early modern people are shown to be shaped by religious belief and experience.

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Protestant devotional identities in early modern England

In 1615 the clergyman Jeremiah Dyke exclaimed ‘surely wee never beginne to know Divinitie or Religion, till wee come to know our selves’. His clarion call, and the ‘devotional turn’ in early modern historiography, urges us to look anew at how ordinary men and women lived out their faith in painstaking and sometimes painful ways. People and Piety is an interdisciplinary edited collection that investigates Protestant devotional identities in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Divided into two sections, it examines the ‘sites’ where these identities were forged (the academy, printing house, household, theatre and prison) and the ‘types’ of texts that expressed them (spiritual autobiographies, religious poetry and writings tied to the ars moriendi), providing a varied and broad analysis of the social, material and literary forms of religious devotion during England’s Long Reformation. Through archival and cutting-edge research, a detailed picture of ‘lived devotion’ emerges. From the period’s most recognisable religious authors (Richard Baxter, George Herbert, Oliver Heywood and Katherine Sutton) to those rarely discussed and recently discovered voices (Isaac Archer, Mary Franklin and Katherine Gell), this book reveals how piety did not define people; it was people who defined their piety. Contributors include internationally recognised scholars from either side of the Atlantic: Sylvia Brown, Vera J. Camden, Bernard Capp, John Coffey, Ann Hughes, N. H. Keeble and William Sheils. To those studying and teaching religion and identity in early modern England, and anyone interested in the history of religious self-expression, this book will be a rich and rewarding read.

Articulating and disseminating radicalism in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain

This book is a collection of essays that study the diffusion of radical ideas in Britain from the period of the English Revolution in the mid-seventeenth century to the Romantic Revolution in the early nineteenth century. It explores the modes of articulation and dissemination of radical ideas in the period by focusing on actors (“radical voices”) and a variety of written texts and cultural practices (“radical ways”), ranging from fiction, correspondence, pamphlets and newspapers to petitions presented to Parliament and toasts raised in public. It analyses the way these media interact with their political, religious, social and literary context. It adopts an interdisciplinary perspective and uses case studies as insights into the global picture of radical ideas.

Slavery in narratives of the early French Atlantic

Based on original research into little-examined printed and archival sources, this book explores the fundamental ideas behind early French thinking about Atlantic slavery by asking three central questions. What, in theoretical and social terms, did the condition of a slave mean? What was unique about using the human body in Caribbean labour, and what were the limits to this use? What can the strategic approaches described in interactions with slaves tell us about early slave society? Arguing that the social and cultural context of the Caribbean colonies from c. 1620-1750 was marked by considerable instability, this book explores the transformations in the theorisation and practice of slavery. Authoritative discourses were confronted with new cultures and environments, and the servitude thought to bring Africans to salvation was accompanied by continuing moral uncertainties. Slavery gave the most fundamental forms of ownership from labour up to time itself, but slaves were a troubling presence. Colonists were wary of what slaves knew and even hid from them, and were aware that the strategies used to control slaves were imperfect, and could even determine the behaviour of their masters. Commentators were conscious of the fragility of colonial society, with its social and ecological frontiers, its renegade slaves, and its population born to free fathers and slave mothers. Slavery, this book argues, was fundamentally, anti-social. With wide use of eye-witness accounts of slavery, this book will be of interest to specialists, and more general readers, interested in the history and literature of the early Atlantic and Caribbean.

From Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry to British Romantic art
Author: Hélène Ibata

The challenge of the sublime argues that the unprecedented visual inventiveness of the Romantic period in Britain could be seen as a response to theories of the sublime, more specifically to Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). While it is widely accepted that the Enquiry contributed to shaping the thematics of terror that became fashionable in British art from the 1770s, this book contends that its influence was of even greater consequence, paradoxically because of Burke’s conviction that the visual arts were incapable of conveying the sublime. His argument that the sublime was beyond the reach of painting, because of the mimetic nature of visual representation, directly or indirectly incited visual artists to explore not just new themes, but also new compositional strategies and even new or undeveloped pictorial and graphic media, such as the panorama, book illustrations and capricci. More significantly, it began to call into question mimetic representational models, causing artists to reflect about the presentation of the unpresentable and the inadequacy of their endeavours, and thus drawing attention to the process of artistic production itself, rather than the finished artwork. By revisiting the links between eighteenth-century aesthetic theory and visual practices, The challenge of the sublime establishes new interdisciplinary connections which address researchers in the fields of art history, cultural studies and aesthetics.

This book seeks to challenge the notion of the supremacy of the brain as the key organ of the Enlightenment. It is done by focusing on the workings of the bowels and viscera that so obsessed writers and thinkers during the long eighteenth-century. These inner organs and the digestive process acted as counterpoints to politeness and other modes of refined sociability, drawing attention to the deeper workings of the self. The book complicates the idea that discourses and representations of digestion and bowels are confined to so-called consumption culture of the long eighteenth century, in which dysfunctional bowels are categorised as a symptom of excess. It offers an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective on entrails and digestion by addressing urban history, visual studies, literature, medical history, religious history, and material culture in England, France, and Germany. The book explores the metaphorical and symbolic connections between the entrails of the body and the bowels of the city or the labyrinthine tunnels of the mine. It then illustrates the materiality of digestion by focusing on its by-products and their satirical or epistemological manifestations. The book expounds further on the burlesque motif of the innards as it is used to subvert areas of more serious knowledge, from medical treatises to epic literature or visual representation. Finally, it focuses on drawings, engravings and caricatures which used the bowels, viscera and entrails to articulate political protest, Revolutionary tensions and subversion through scatological aesthetics, or to expose those invisible organs.

Living spirituality

Between 1598 and 1800, an estimated 3, 271 Catholic women left England to enter convents on the Continent. This study focuses more particularly upon those who became Benedictines in the seventeenth century, choosing exile in order to pursue their vocation for an enclosed life. Through the study of a wide variety of original manuscripts, including chronicles, death notices, clerical instructions, texts of spiritual guidance, but also the nuns’ own collections of notes, this book highlights the tensions between the contemplative ideal and the nuns’ personal experiences. Its first four chapters adopt a traditional historical approach to illustrate the tensions between theory and practice in the ideal of being dead to the world. They offer a prosopographical study of Benedictine convents in exile, and show how those houses were both cut-off and enclosed yet very much in touch with the religious and political developments at home. The next fur chapters propose a different point of entry into the history of nuns, with a study of emotions and the senses in the cloister, delving into the textual analysis of the nuns’ personal and communal documents to explore aspect of a lived spirituality, when the body, which so often hindered the spirit, at times enabled spiritual experience.

This volume of twelve essays, preceded by an introduction that succinctly frames the problematic and history of the notion of the ‘self’, examines the various ways the ‘self’ was perceived, fashioned and written in the course of the long eighteenth century in Great Britain. It highlights, in particular, the interface between literature and philosophy. The chapters include discussion of philosophers such as Locke, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hume, Hutcheson and Smith, churchmen such as Isaac Barrow and John Tillotson, the novelists Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson and Laurence Sterne, the poets Anne Killigrew, Alexander Pope, William Blake and William Wordsworth, the writers and sometime diarists Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, and the radical writer Sampson Perry.

The originality of the studies lies in their focus on the varied ways of seeing and saying the self, and what Locke called personal identity. They foreground the advent of a recognisably modern, individualistic and ‘sustainable’ self, which, still today, remains plural and enigmatic. The book should appeal to a wide public, both undergraduate and graduate students working in Literature and the Humanities, in particular those interested in the Enlightenment period, as well as researchers and the general public interested in questions related to identity and consciousness and their formulation in the past and present.

The volume follows a chronological narrative which surveys the intriguing and protean nature of the ‘self’ from varied perspectives and as expressed in different genres. It assembles contributions from both confirmed and young researchers from Britain, Europe and the United States.

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Transformations and continuities in Europe, 1600–1830

This collection examines the transformations of early modern European satire from the seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. Drawing together literary scholars and art historians, the book maps the changes that satire underwent in becoming a less genre-driven and increasingly visual medium. The collection traces the increasing dependence of satire on a proliferation of formats, including visual and textual media and various combinations of them, but also manuscript circulation as well as the use of ‘non-satirical’ forms for satirical purposes. In doing so, while discussing canonical satire in both its textual and visual incarnations, the contributors also move extensively into less charted territory, with material on satire that previous criticism has ignored or relegated to the margins. Satire was a particularly important phenomenon in England in the period and, while acknowledging this, the collection also contains material on France, Italy and Spain. In short, in its wide sweep across time and formats, the book discusses the role satire had as a transgressor of medial and political borders.