About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the nature and significance of religious enthusiasm in early Enlightenment England.Learn more about Enlightening Enthusiasm at the Manchester University Press website.
Historians have argued that the English Enlightenment developed as a rationalistic reaction against the proliferation of religious enthusiasm in the mid-seventeenth century. Yet little attention has been paid to the reality of enthusiasm, whose modern representation largely draws upon the hostile discourse of Augustan moralists. Focussing the emergence and impact of the notorious French Prophets in light of contemporary movements, this book explores for the first time the reality of enthusiasm in late Stuart and early Georgian society. It challenges our modern understanding of this originally infamous term by dissociating religious experience from millenarianism, radical dissent and popular religion. This complex and transgressive nature of enthusiasm fuelled an intellectual debate on revealed religion, miracles and supernatural claims, questions that not only stood at the origins of the Enlightenment, but also of modernity in general.
This book demonstrates how the understanding of enthusiasm evolved in that period, designating anything from a religious fanaticism to a social epidemic and even a bodily disease. It offers the first comprehensive approach to enthusiasm, looking at this multifarious issue from a successively social, religious, cultural, political and medical perspective. Based on extensive archival research, it sheds new light on the reality of enthusiasm away from the hostility of Enlightenment discourse.
The book will be of interest to scholars and postgraduates of the early modern period, especially those concentrating on religious, political and intellectual history, as well as people with Huguenot ancestry.
My Book, The Movie: Enlightening Enthusiasm.