Shagan’s Popular Politics and the English Reformation (2000) is a political and social history that argues that the Reformation in England was a proceShagan’s Popular Politics and the English Reformation (2000) is a political and social history that argues that the Reformation in England was a process of collaboration between ordinary people, gentry, and the state, in which shared religious idioms were used in order to advance multiple and sometimes conflicting political, economic, and theological agendas held by different groups who cannot be easily broken down into simply “Protestant” and simply “Catholic.” Shagan is responding to two main historiographical camps within the study of the English Reformation. The first camp is made up of Protestant historians who offer a paradigm of the English Reformation as “liberation” for the English people, a model that contains anti-Catholic prejudices and argues that the English nation was entirely converted to Protestantism by 1559. The second camp are the revisionist historians (beginning in 1975 with Haigh, Scarisbrick, and Duffy) who argue that a better paradigm for understanding the English Reformation is that of “enforcement” by the state, and they emphasize its negative effects on the common people as well as popular piety and resistance. Shagan criticizes both these camps for being controlled by a “confessional lens” that necessarily assesses the English Reformation in terms of its “success” or “failure,” and in so doing are prevented from asking questions about the process of the English Reformation. In other words, if the English didn’t convert en masse to Protestantism, what did they do? Shagan’s argument is based on the following premises: 1) most English people did not embrace evangelical Protestantism yet 2) the Tudor regime doesn’t have the power to enforce religious change, so all changes require eliciting some degree of popular consent. Thus Shagan argues for a collaborative lens that allows us to ask questions about the negotiations that had to occur between the English people and the state in order for the English Reformation to happen as it did. Shagan’s collaborative model is neither a top-down process of the state imposing Protestantism on the people, as per the confessionalization thesis, nor a revolution of the people, as Peter Blickle argues, but something in between....more
Read Chapter 5, "'Have You Ever Prayed to Saint Jude?' Reflections on Fieldwork in Catholic Chicago" for Theories & Methods. I really want to readRead Chapter 5, "'Have You Ever Prayed to Saint Jude?' Reflections on Fieldwork in Catholic Chicago" for Theories & Methods. I really want to read the rest of the book sometime in the future.
"The consequences of all this for our work is that unless we recognize first the elemental fascination and power of religious goings-on and then all the things we want to do with them--share them, control them, mute their power over us and over our memories--our writing about religion will become an exercise in boundary making. This is the emotional ground of the impulse toward functionalism in the field: to tame what is wild and threatening and dangerous specifically to us because of the details of our particular childhoods about different forms of religious experience and practice. This is what makes so much religious scholarship dull and beside the point. It is also the reason why scholars of religion spend so much time in making sterile taxonomies, gridding what we study into safe--and discrete--categories. These various complex anxieties, needs, and discomforts constitute the existential difficulties of fieldwork in one's own religious tradition" (161).