Premodern Colloquium: "Radical Charity and the Long Reformation: Literature, Belief, and Transgressive Forms of Love in Early Modern England"
Professor Trevor’s current book project, Radical Charity and the Long Reformation, is an intervention in the field of early modern literary studies that examines the emergence of a radical redefinition of charity in the late Middle Ages, when a succession of mystics began to argue that the fervently devout might in fact find themselves visited and fully enriched (perfected) by God's grace before experiencing bodily death. Through ensuing centuries, Spiritualists — those who espoused the doctrine of perfectionism — were accused of inappropriately figuring God as an erotic object. They were also criticized for describing their charitable attitudes toward other humans in erotic terms, and for the extraordinary measure of happiness that these men and women claimed was attainable on earth. This project explores the dissemination of these Spiritualist views during the Reformation, and reads a number of early modern literary works — including the writings of Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and John Donne — with this unconventional articulation of caritas in mind.
Douglas Trevor, English Language and Literature