Religious Cultures in the Early Modern Period:
Tradition, Authority, Heterodoxy
Convener: Chanita Goodblatt
Organizer: Michele Horowitz
In its exploration of the Early Modern period, this international workshop will emphasize the religious cultures and encounters of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As such, the symposium will focus on both intra-and inter-religious aspects of these cultures and encounters. Thus within the Jewish, Christian and Islamic worlds, it will focus on the often confluent but at the same time highly conflicting relationships among sects and movements. From without, it will focus on the complex cultural symbiosis among the antagonistic but in fact mutually enriching traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Indeed, this emphasis on religious cultures and encounters is at the center of my research project on John Donne and Christian Hebraism, funded by the Israel Science Foundation. For in seeking to authenticate Donne (one of the most famous and influential Protestant preachers of the early seventeenth century) as a Christian Hebraist, I define his biblical hermeneutics as the meeting point of Protestant theology and Jewish exegesis. The discussion of these cultures and encounters will be organized around the topic of Tradition, Authority, Heterodoxy, which was of paramount concern in the Early Modern period, with the breakdown of religious consensus, the rise of science and encounters with numerous others. Furthermore, this topic will provide the opportunity to investigate subjects such as the construction of national identity in regards to religion, and the concomitant issues of empowerment and individual freedom. In this manner, the proposed symposium will contribute to the growing efforts among scholars of literature, history and art to bring religious cultures and encounters to the fore of their respective disciplines.
The workshop will be organized as roundtable discussions, focusing on papers by scholars in a variety of disciplines and topics. The emphasis in both the papers and in the ensuing discussions will be on the analysis and interpretation of primary sources in literature, history, religion and art of the Early Modern period.