Godly Governance: Religion and Political Culture in the Early Modern World

Proposals due 1 March 2014.

Religious and political thought have seldom been entirely separable, but this was especially the case following the seismic changes that characterized the early modern period. These transformations affected the relationship of the religious and the political, blurring the boundaries between sacred and secular, public and private in ways previously inconceivable. These two sources of power met on a large scale in wars of religion or the establishment of national churches. But this period also witnessed the internalization of godly governance: manuals describing self-regulation, covering topics as diverse as child-raising, managing the home, ordering the diet, and dying well, abound. Intersections between these two facets of early modern life fill the period’s literature, music, art, and material culture, in the spaces of high culture and the quotidian, in performative and textual expression. Recent work has established that both religion and politics intersect with confessional identities, material culture, the spatial imagination, intellectual and patronage networks, and across manuscript and print culture. This conference seeks to illuminate the entanglements and confrontations between God and government in these diverse fields, hoping that the study of these difficult but fruitful meeting places can open up new avenues of understanding about the early modern world.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Prof. Peter McCullough (Oxford), Prof. Peter Lake (Vanderbilt) and Dr Lucy Wooding (KCL).

We warmly invite proposals of 200-250 words for 20-minute papers from scholars working on the early modern period in any field or geographical area, and proposals for panels of three or four papers (consisting of three abstracts and a title). We particularly welcome interdisciplinary approaches to these subjects. Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • spaces of religious performance or performative religion
  • the reception of godly polemic
  • sites of engagement with religious or political themes in the arts and literature
  • the roles of gender, class, and sociability in the formation of confessional identities
  • godly governance writ large in the government of the state or in local government
  • the politics of individual and communal spirituality
  • religio-political collisions in material and visual cultures.

Please send abstracts and panel proposals to Christine Knaack, Jonas van Tol and Emma Kennedy by 1 March 2014 at  godlygov2014@gmail.com.

Conference website:   http://godlygov2014.wordpress.com/