My book project, Reading and Writing Certainty in Early Modern England, examines the desire for soteriological certainty in early modern reading and writing habits, arguing that the Protestant Reformation channeled a search for empirical knowledge of salvation and self. The Protestant Reformation disrupted the soteriological certainty of self previously provided by the works and rituals of Roman Catholic practice; early modern Protestants still sought certain knowledge of their salvation, but without the confidence of works and ritual, they turned to methods of observation and examination similar to those of the new science movement. While scholars typically attribute empirical certainty to the coming Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, my project shows how the Protestant Reformation anticipated desires for empirical certainty. This project thus demonstrates the centrality of individualized interpretation in Protestant soteriological certainty in early modern England.
Summer research trip to British Library (2016)