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Over recent decades the study of early modern English Catholicism has undergone a radical transformation. No longer regarded merely as a force of conservatism and reaction, scholars now emphasise the vitality and innovation that marked the changing fortunes of England’s Catholics during this turbulent period. Underlining and expanding upon these important themes, the essays in this volume offer a fascinating insight into the latest research that explicitly places English Catholicism in the context of the Counter-Reformation and the wider English Catholic diaspora. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, it includes contributions from those who approach the material from very different angles thus helping to further change perceptions of the subject, question perceived notions and present an overview of the subject as it currently stands. Divided into three sections, the first group of essays consider the ways in which an English Catholic identity was formed. The second section explores issues of memory in the English Catholic context, whilst the third cluster directly explores the phenomenon of early modern English Catholicism as more than a national concern, exploring its role as part of an international reform movement. Taken together these essays reveal the interlocking relationship between the key themes of identity, memory and Counter-Reformation, assessing the way they shaped English Catholicism, as well as demonstrating its the significance to national and European Counter-Reformation culture.
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James E. Kelly is St Cuthbert’s Society Post-Doctoral Fellow at Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies. His interests are in post-Reformation Catholic history in Europe and Britain, particularly the experience of the English Catholic community at home and in exile. He was a member of the AHRC-funded ’Who Were the Nuns?’ project and Project Manager of its AHRC-funded follow-on initiative. His publications include acting as editor of the volume on convent management in the series English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800 and co-editing the collection The English Convents in Exile, 1600-1800: Communities, Culture and Identity. Susan Royal is Mary Ward Post-Doctoral Research Assistant in early modern English Catholicism at Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion. Her research interests lie in the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Britain, and chiefly in the role that history played in the evolution of religious identity. She has published essays on prophecy in John Bale’s writings and on the nonconformist tradition of conventicling in early modern England.
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