My dissertation connects the epistemologies of early English Protestantism and the new science movement, viewing early modern reading and writing as the juncture of these two cultural arenas. Despite the Calvinist promise of full spiritual assurance, Protestants remained anxious of the certainty of their salvation. The Protestant search for evidence of personal election parallels the new science emphasis on observation, experiment, and empiricism in the hunt for facts. To demonstrate this cultural connection, I use literary texts, such as Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Donne’s Devotions, Herbert’s Temple, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and Shakespeare’s Richard II alongside personal prayer books, spiritual diaries, and commonplace books. While scholars have already connected early modern Protestantism and new science, I argue that early modern literature reveals a spiritually empirical and experimental process in early modern English Protestant epistemology that is striking in its resemblance to the coming Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment.
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McKelvey, Chelsea, "Reading and Writing Certainty in Early Modern England" (2018). English Theses and Dissertations. 4.
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