Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cooper and Farooq: our next two history seminars

Craig Cooper, Dean of Arts & Science and Program in Classics

Feb 13 (Friday), 2:30 pm, A224

"Determining Justice in Classical Athens."

Jennifer Farooq, Department of History

Feb 25 (Wednesday), 10:30 am, F307
'Sermons as promotion and publicity: Preachers and London voluntary associations, 1700-1760'

There has been increasing interest in early modern sermons, particularly in their role in British political and religious culture. Yet, there has been less attention paid to sermons preached at charity and society meetings. This relative lack of scholarly interest is particularly glaring in the eighteenth century because although sermons had long been a part of such events, this role became increasingly prominent by the early eighteenth century, as the number and variety of voluntary associations grew. Indeed, such sermons were one of the most distinctive aspects of eighteenth-century sermon culture.

This paper briefly examines the content of society sermons, but also considers the functions of these sermons and the relationships of preachers to these associations. Preachers helped establish and interpret the ideology of the societies and also frequently acted as the public spokesmen for societies. Some groups went to great lengths to try to procure well-known preachers for their events. Many of these sermons were published and subsequently distributed to current and potential supporters. Sermons served as an important form of publicity and also helped generate revenue, either when they were preached or printed. Thus, this paper reveals how preachers found new roles and had continuing importance in British public life at a time when some scholars would suggest society was becoming increasingly secular and less influenced by the clergy.