David Loewenstein

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This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Treacherous Faith: Heresy and Demonization in Early Modern English Literature" (NEH, 2011–2012)

My project, entitled Treacherous Faith, is a large cross-disciplinary book about literature, religious fears, and the specter of heresy in England from the early Reformation to the English Revolution. The book explores the fears and representations of religious deviance in early modern writing from Thomas More and Anne Askew to John Milton and John Bunyan. It studies writers in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England who both demonized religious deviants as heretics and those who interrogated demonizing religious language and representations. How did writers in early modern England themselves contribute to and fuel the fantasy of the heretic and religious deviant? How and to what degree did they question the fear-mongering, the polarizing rhetoric, and the religious violence associated with it? My book draws upon the disciplines of literary study, history, and religion studies to examine these questions anew. Treacherous Faith is aimed at a wide range of scholars and students interested in early modern English literature and its cultural contexts, the politics and history of religious conflict, and the unstable and interconnected relations between orthodoxy and heresy. The book’s examination of the specter of heresy means that it will also contribute to new scholarship on literary culture, religious fear-mongering, and the struggle for religious toleration in the early modern period. In addition, it contributes to broader work in the humanities that seeks to illuminate the changing dynamics of religious fear, the rhetoric of religious demonization, and the ways the literary imagination represents and constructs religious difference.