England's Secular Scripture: Islamophobia and the Protestant by Jo Carruthers

By Jo Carruthers

England's Secular Scripture seeks to track Englishness to its roots in England's Protestant earlier, and extra in particular to its aesthetic and literary rooting in Protestant values. Carruthers argues that the formation of English identities in early glossy Reformation Protestantism affects English antagonism in the direction of international identities, in particular glaring opposed to Muslims. The booklet strains the transposing, and secularizing, of Reformation doctrines right into a 'Protestant aesthetic' of simplicity, individualism, and rationalism within the literature of Spenser and Milton. Wordsworth, Hardy, Eliot and Orwell, between others, perpetuate this aesthetic, person who keeps to form English mythologies as much as the current day. Carruthers sheds gentle on modern Islamophobia, aiding us to appreciate that Englishness isn't really purely an earthly identification (combating what's obvious as an irrational fundamentalist identity), yet one trained, ironically, by way of Protestant good judgment and historical past.

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235). Because it is written in full in the novel, the reader is also impelled to perform the Doxology internally: Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. (p. 234) Written in the 1670s by Church of England Priest, Thomas Ken, the explicitly Trinitarian hymn is nonetheless vague enough to fulfil the childrens’ less specific sentiments. At the heart of this quintessentially English story of simple joy in nature, then, is a dormant Protestantism that is awakened through its ritual enacting.

I am indebted to the Research Councils UK, who funded my Research Fellowship. I am also grateful to David Avital and Colleen Coalter at Continuum for bringing it to publication. This book has been brewing for a long time and there are many people to thank for contributing towards it and for helping me refine my ideas. It is in conversations with Naomi Baker, alongside whom I first taught early modern literature at Manchester University, that the kernel of this book first started to take shape. I owe to her and my fellow postgraduates – especially Deirdre Boleyn, Rachael Gilmour and Zoë Kinsley – a debt of gratitude for support and friendship.

In reading the liturgy at the heart of The Secret Garden, Protestant convictions are potentially revived in the reader. This book considers the literature of the past – the poetry of Spenser, Milton and then William Wordsworth and the prose of George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and George Orwell – for how it articulates and circumscribes a Protestant logic in an aesthetic register and helps to establish and continue a mythology of English simplicity. MYTHOLOGIES In calling simplicity a ‘Protestant aesthetic’, I am drawing attention to its formal properties and consider these in the light of Roland Barthes’ theories of mythology.

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