Religion, Social Conscience, and the Global Age

Short Seminar

January 3–5, 2007

To honor the contributions of Susan L. Foote to the School’s intellectual vitality during her 2003–2006 term as chair of SAR’s Board of Managers, president James F. Brooks and York University professor Nicholas Rogers organized a three-day seminar of 11 scholars focusing on Foote’s scholarly interests in eighteenth-century religion and society, with special emphasis on evangelicalism, commerce, and philanthropy. “The opportunity to meet and work with these extraordinary scholars and to participate in the SAR seminar experience was one of the highlights of my life,” said Foote. Her dissertation research focused on John Thornton, the merchant, philanthropist, and church patron often referred to as the “father of the Clapham Sect,” an Evangelical group active in the abolition of the slave trade. Brooks designed the seminar to provide historical depth for the School’s current three-year cooperative program with the Social Science Research Council in religion, science, and public life.

The lives of people such as Thornton William Wilberforce, Charles Wesley, and Saxe Bannister open windows into the complex issues characterizing eighteenth-century Britain, many of which seem to mirror those of the twenty-first century: rising crime; a crisis in the penal system and capital punishment; tensions between religion and secularism; Christian imperialism and aboriginal sovereignty; intolerance and bigotry among religious sects; and the opportunistic use of nature’s extremes for political propaganda and fear-mongering. “Our discussions,” said Brooks, “reminded us that commonplace terms such as humanitarianism, toleration, and benevolence have historical meanings different from those employed today.” The seminar participants, who came from Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, will meet again in 2008.

James F. Brooks, Chair President, School for Advanced Research
Nicholas Rogers, Chair Professor, Department of History, York University, Toronto, Canada The London Earthquakes of 1750: Panic, Providentialism, and the Public Sphere
Rebecca Allahyari Research Associate, School for Advanced Research Discussant
Erica Bornstein Resident Scholar, School for Advanced Research Discussant
Anthony M. Claydon Senior Lecturer, School of History and Welsh History, University of Wales Discussant
Simon Devereaux Assistant Professor, Department of History University of Victoria, Vancouver, BC, Canada William Wilberforce and the English Penal Crisis, 1782-1787
Elizabeth Elbourne Associate Professor, Department of History, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Christian Imperialism and Aboriginal Sovereignty: Saxe Bannister, the Friends of the Aboriginee, and the Contradictions of Aboriginal Citizenship in the 1820s and 1830s
Susan L. Foote Independent Scholar,
Jeremy Gregory Senior Lecturer / Director of Undergraduate Education, School of Arts, Histories, and Cultures, University of Manchester, UK
Andrea McKenzie Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Victoria, Vancouver, Canada Between Bigotry and Enthusiasm: Religion and the Decline of the Ordinary’s Account
Laura Stevens Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Tulsa A Lasting Honour to her Sex: Reading Deborah in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic

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