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(Re)defining the English Reformation

By Peter Marshall


The study of the Reformation has arguably never been in better shape, as new books and articles appear with dizzying regularity. The current rude good health of the subject can be substantiated by a few minutes spent with the catalog of the British Library. A title keyword search under “Reformation” produces 490 items for the 1960s, dipping to 449 for the 1970s. But in the 1980s, this shoots up to 656 and remains at almost exactly that level through the 1990s. In the new century up to the end of 2007, no fewer than 563 books with the word “Reformation” in the title have been published and deposited at the British Library. Moreover, the concerns of Reformation history and theology are now regularly cropping up in places where they have not been much in evidence before: in art history, musicology, and literary studies, for example. To point to just one particular case, the study of William Shakespeare—always a reliable barometer of Anglo‐American cultural and academic preoccupations—has taken a decidedly religious turn over recent years, in which questions of the meaning and impact of the Reformation are very much to the fore.1 The collective problem faced by students of the Reformation, if indeed we have a problem, is not therefore one of nurturing a tender and precarious plant, struggling to thrive in stony and unyielding historical soil. Rather, it is the challenge of maintaining order and coherence in a large and untidy garden, alive with luxuriant foliage, periodic colorful blooms, and a smattering of undesirable weeds

Topics: BR, DA
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:97

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