Lives & Afterlives
This strand of the project is led by Dr Ceri Law at Cambridge. In it we explore the historical and literary afterlives of individuals and groups caught up in the Reformation, as well as the manner in which religious change stimulated the emergence and effected the transformation of types of life-writing.
Subjects of investigation include figures omitted from official written histories of English Protestantism but who featured in the alternative narratives engendered by dissenting minorities, as well as the Reformation’s traditional heroes (e.g. the martyred bishops Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley) and anti-heroes (e.g. Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner). We are also looking beyond England to investigate how the memory of pioneering European reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin evolved over the centuries which saw the theological centre of gravity of the Church shift significantly. These stories of Protestant celebrities are set beside the ways in which otherwise unknown and obscure people recorded, represented and edited their own and others’ personal experiences for posterity. By focusing closely on the creative strategies of remembering and forgetting deployed in biographical and autobiographical writing we are generating new insights about the evolution of these genres.