Visions of British Culture from the Reformation to Romanticism: The Protestant Discovery of Tradition

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This book is a major new contribution to the study of cultural identities in Britain and Ireland from the Reformation to Romanticism. It provides a fresh perspective on the rise of interest in British vernacular (or “folk”) cultures, which has often been elided with the emergence of British Romanticism and its Continental precursors. Here the Romantics’ discovery of and admiration for vernacular traditions is placed in a longer historical timeline reaching back to the controversies sparked by the Protestant Reformation. The book charts the emergence of a nuanced discourse about vernacular cultures, developing in response to the Reformers’ devastating attack on customary practices and beliefs relating to the natural world, seasonal festivities, and rites of passage. It became a discourse grounded in humanist Biblical and antiquarian scholarship; informed by the theological and pastoral problems of the long period of religious instability after the Reformation; and, over the course of the eighteenth century, colored by new ideas about culture drawn from Enlightenment historicism and empiricism. This study shows that Romantic literary primitivism and Romantic social thought, both radical and conservative, grew out of this rich context. It will be welcomed by historians of early modern and eighteenth-century Britain and those interested in the study of religious and vernacular cultures.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages320
ISBN (Electronic)9783030828554
ISBN (Print)9783030828547
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameHistories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700–2000


  • folklore
  • Protestant Reformation
  • vernacular cultures
  • Church of England
  • antiquarianism


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