James Simpson is Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English at Harvard University. He will be in Berlin in June 2016 for a Global Humanities Senior Research and Teaching Stay.
The Protestant Reformation is often characterized as a struggle between Protestants and Catholics. So it was, but in this lecture I argue that, in England at any rate, the struggle within Protestantism was much fiercer and more dramatic. This intra-confessional ferocity was produced not only by rapidly shifting political situations across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; it was essentially produced by the logic of Protestantism itself, forever in flight from “tradition,” and forever, therefore, in flight from itself. Early modern evangelical religion, I argue, produced the model that would characterize later political revolutions in Europe and Asia.