Call for Papers: Women and Religion in Britain c.1660-1760

25-27 June 2009
A three day interdisciplinary conference at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford

Plenary speakers and contributors include Elizabeth Clarke, Mark Goldie, Erica Longfellow, Phyllis Mack, David Norbrook, Stephen Taylor, Claire Walker.

This conference offers a forum for examining women’s religious lives in this period from a range of historical and literary perspectives: considering spiritual and polemical writings by ‘exceptional’ women, but also the reading habits, devotional routines, domestic piety and social networks which characterized the religious culture of less visible women. It also aims to reassess both women’s contributions to processes of renewal, change, and reform, and their role in a popular conservative reaction to Restoration morality and the Enlightenment. A focus on women and religion may help us to understand better a world of lay religious commitment in an age of church parties competing for power, which was not separate from, but also not exclusively shaped by, political, intellectual and ecclesiastical disputes.

The conference particularly seeks to address the following questions. To what extent did the distinctive character of religious life after 1660, and later 1689, shape the religious experiences of women? What was the impact of changing perceptions about patriarchal authority, the findings of experimental science, and early Enlightenment discourses on female nature? How did urbanisation, empire, and politeness change women’s religious culture? How did the development of the public sphere, which helped to mould the ways in which religious discourse and practice was conducted, in turn influence female participation in religious life? What might be the significance of the ‘religious turn’ in literary scholarship for early modern women’s writing? And to what extent did this period see the ‘feminisation’ of religion, both in the established churches and in dissenting congregations?

There exist a variety of approaches to this subject, and we aim to accommodate as many of these as possible but papers on the following topics are especially encouraged: case studies of individuals; clerical wives and families; coteries and literary circles; religious and intellectual movements; Dissent and recusancy; print culture; education; monasticism; the politics of religion; continental influences.

To propose a paper, contact Dr Sarah Apetrei by 1
Feb 2009.

To register, contact Stephanie Jenkins