CFPs in Renaissance Intellectual History

Centered on the word: Literature, scripture, and the Tudor-Stuart middle way

Source of Information: FICINO 2000-01-10
Date of Event: n.a.: Volume of collected papers
Location of event: n.a.: Volume of collected papers
Deadline for abstracts etc.: 2000-10-01


        EDITORS:  Daniel W. Doerksen (author of _Conforming to the Word:
Herbert, Donne, and the English Church before Laud_, 1997), Department of
English, University of New Brunswick, Box 4400, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5A3,
Canada.  E-mail:     and
                  Christopher Hodgkins (author of _Authority, Church, and
Society in George Herbert: Return to the Middle Way_, 1993),  Department of
English, 132A McIver Building, University of North Carolina, P.O. Box 26170,
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 USA.  E-mail:

We are proposing a collection of original essays by literary and historical
scholars to help remedy a gap by giving attention to important but neglected
aspects of the late Tudor and early Stuart Church of England, and especially
to the literary ramifications.

The eager attention to Scripture that accompanied the English Reformation,
both spurring it and resulting from it, is well known.  In describing the
late Elizabethan church, Peter Lake speaks of a dominant "word-centred
piety" which Hooker sought to replace with a "sacrament-centred" one. [It
must be understood that Word and Sacrament were both considered essential
elements of the church - we take "centering" to be a matter of emphasis.]
Recent historians have noted that advocates of "avant-garde conformity" were
few in number through the reign of James, and that proponents of the word -
Scripture and preaching - continued to dominate the English church.  And
Hooker himself and Andrewes exemplified the power of the word even as they
sought in some ways to curb it.

While some modern writers have deprecated such a verbal and biblical focus,
even blaming it for some outbursts of iconoclasm, what has often been
overlooked is the positive effect that such a centering could and did have
on the great literature of the time, much of it religious.  For it can be
claimed that the Scriptures are a much richer resource for writers than has
generally been acknowledged.  It seems more than coincidental that the time
of such word-centeredness in the church coincides with what many agree is
the high point of English Renaissance literature.  (With notable exceptions,
the modern excitement about the Bible both as literature, and as related to
literature seems not to have spilled over much into consideration of English
Early Modern writers.)

In the past much has been written about the puritans as dissatisfied with
the English church, but relatively little about moderate or even fully
conforming puritans, like Richard Sibbes.  Similarly, literary accounts have
usually associated non-puritans like Herbert with Hooker, Andrewes, or Laud,
generally ignoring the moderate episcopal Calvinists who provided leadership
in the Elizabethan and Jacobean church. It was under these moderate
Calvinist leaders that the extraordinary literary achievement of Bible's
Authorized Version saw print in 1611. These people were not generally
preoccupied with predestinarian teaching (which Calvin himself had cautioned
should be handled with care), but rather with conveying in words both true
and beautiful the doctrine and inner spiritual life of reformed
Christianity. Words, however, were not to be idolized, nor severed from the
divine Word, or from the world of action and responsibility. It was this
Word-centered church that substantially formed the milieu of Spenser,
Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert, and the young Milton, not to mention numerous
other remarkable writers. It is time that this religious milieu be taken
more properly into account as a literary force.

The proposed collection of essays is intended to continue a recent practice
of mutual cooperation between historians and writers on literature.
Prospective literary contributors should show awareness of recent historical
findings (see, for example, the brief bibliography below), and prospective
historical contributors should demonstrate an interest in literary

We are calling for essays not exceeding 8000 words to be submitted no later
than October 1, 2000, and the editors prefer the Chicago style. Final
decisions about inclusion of essays will be made by the editors.  Inquiries,
tentative proposals, and finished papers may be submitted to either editor;
papers should be submitted in duplicate.


        Patrick Collinson, _The Religion of Protestants: The Church in
English Society, 1559-1625_, 1982.
        Julian Davies, _The Caroline Captivity of the Church: Charles I and the
Remoulding of Anglicanism, 1625-1641_, 1992.
        Susan Doran and Christopher Durston, _Princes, Pastors and People: The
Church and Religion in England, 1529-1689_, 1991.
        Kenneth Fincham, ed., _The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642_, 1993.
        Kenneth Fincham, _Prelate as Pastor: The Episcopate of James I_, 1990.
        Charles and Katherine George, ed., _The Protestant Mind of the
English Reformation, 1570-1640_, 1961.
        Peter Lake, _Anglicans and Puritans?: Presbyterianism and English
Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker_, 1988.
        Peter Lake, _Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church_, 1982.
        Anthony Milton, _Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant
Churches in English Protestant Thought 1600-1640_, 1995.
        Kevin Sharpe, _The Personal Rule of Charles I_, 1992.
        Nicholas Tyacke, _Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism
c. 1590-1640_, 1987.
        Dewey Wallace, _Puritans and Predestination: Grace in English
Protestant Theology, 1525-1695_, 1982.

Daniel W. Doerksen, Ph.D.                      E-mail:
Honorary Research Professor
Department of English
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, N.B., Canada   E3B 5A3