Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Redrawing the Map of Early Modern English Catholicism

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Redrawing the Map of Early Modern English Catholicism

Article excerpt

Redrawing the Map of Early Modern English Catholicism. Edited by Lowell Gallagher. [Clark Memorial Library Series.] (Toronto: University ofToronto Press in association with the UCLA Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. 2012. Pp. x, 342. $75.00. ISBN 978-1-4426-4312-3.)

This reviewer groaned as he began to read the barely comprehensible edi- torial introduction to this volume: more pretentious, jargon-ridden, English-lit. theorizing seemed in prospect, with little that is useful to historians of religion. It is striking how much of the work on early-modern English Catholicism is now being done in English departments in the United States, probably because so many of the easily available sources are literary texts of one sort or another, and archival resources of the kind historians often use are limited (and on the other side of the Atlantic). For all its achievements, this scholarly effort has unbalanced our understanding of post-Reformation Catholicism, with its con- centration on poetry, hagiography, heroic piety, priests, and the nobility and gentry-at the expense of conventional practice, social relations, and the lower social orders. But this groaning reviewer fretted too much-although ten of the twelve contributors to this collection work in English departments, most of them can, unusually, write comprehensible English, and some make serious contributions to historical understanding.

Eleven essays are organized in three sections: three in "Signposts" (on "sig- nature topics"), four in "Poetics" (on Catholic poetry) and four in "Communities" (on confessional identity). Arthur Marotti looks carefully at Catholic responses to Protestant attacks on Catholic worship as idolatry, but finds there is more to say about John Donne and John Milton than Nicholas Sander and Thomas Harding. It looks as if Catholics gave up trying. Frances Dolan cleverly analyzes a ponderous official text exposing the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and a murder pamphlet from 1681, although it is not clear that they go together in any helpful way. …

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