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Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World$
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Kathleen Lynch

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199643936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199643936.001.0001

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Truth and consequences

(p.271) Conclusion:
Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World

Kathleen Lynch

Oxford University Press

In the seventeenth-century Anglophone world, theological and historical conditions pressured identity towards a stable, religiously confirmed articulation and then aimed to hold religious affiliation to a congruence with nationhood. Despite these forces, the period ended not with a triumphant reintegration of the Protestant body ecclesiastical-political, but with the failure to reconfigure a comprehensive Protestant state church. Even so, a new way of thinking about the meaning of one’s life took hold. Personal conscience was recognized as an unimpeachable arbiter of authentic selfhood, but with a zone of authority that would be increasingly circumscribed. The destabilizing force of the radically religious was a strong catalyst for the rewriting of social contracts among related cultures. First-person witnessing became an integral element in the writing of history of nonconformity. As a precursor to the novel, it also provided a strong template for narrative forms.

Keywords:   seventeenth-century Anglophone world, conscience, toleration, comprehension, precursor to the novel, history of nonconformity

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