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date: 25 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

A history of theology in Western Europe that failed to place the sixteenth-century religious Reformations at a prominent place in its narrative would make strange reading. A history of literature in the sixteenth century that placed a similar emphasis on the religious Reformations would, until very recently, have looked decidedly eccentric. In the last ten years, such assumptions have been put into disarray. Increasingly, it is becoming as hard to separate literary production from the processes of religious change as it is the visual and musical arts, where the Reformation has long been a key object of enquiry. Not only evidently devotional works, but literature across the genres, are increasingly seen in this light: the shadow of the Reformation has been observed even across the face of Shakespeare studies. Moreover, secularization itself can be seen as an important dimension of the reaction to religious division.

Keywords: theology, history, literature, Reformation, secularization, religious change, Shakespeare studies

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