Literature and Religious Culture in Seventeenth-century England

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Reid Barbour's 2002 study takes a fresh look at English Protestant culture in the reign of Charles I (1625-1649). In the decades leading into the civil war and the execution of their monarch, English writers explored the experience of a Protestant life of holiness, looking at it in terms of heroic endeavours, worship, the social order, and the cosmos. Barbour examines sermons and theological treatises to argue that Caroline religious culture comprises a rich and extensive stocktaking of the conditions in which Protestantism was celebrated, undercut, and experienced. Barbour argues that this stocktaking was also carried out in unusual and sometimes quite secular contexts; in the masques, plays and poetry of the era as well as in scientific works and diaries. This broad-ranging study offers an extensive appraisal of crucial seventeenth-century themes, and will be of interest to historians as well as literary scholars of the period.