Promoting historic links between Oxford Brookes University and the Methodist Church through archives, artworks, publications and research.
Opportunities to fully immerse oneself in his or her research for weeks at a time are a rare indulgence, at least for those of us who are odd enough to enjoy spending hours in libraries surrounded by books and combing manuscripts that are hundreds of years old. The invitation to be a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Methodism and Church History at Oxford Brookes University allowed me just this sort of opportunity, and I express my appreciation to the Centre and Bill Gibson for providing me with the time and resources that enabled me to continue my work on the literary reception of Methodism in the eighteenth century.
Through the generous support of the Centre, as well as Brigham Young University, I made significant headway on my most recent project, examining the ways critics responded to George Whitefield and Methodism in colonial America. Though extremely popular among the colonists, Whitefield, as he did in Britain, attracted his share of negative press, to which he responded both in print and practice. While much has been written on the anti-Methodist literature produced in Britain, relatively little attention has been paid to anti-Methodism in the American context. The themes and issues raised in response to Whitefield and Methodism in colonial America naturally intersect with many of those raised on the other side of the Atlantic, but my research suggests ways that the hostile literature in America was likewise shaped by America’s unique cultural and religious landscape.
In addition to the resources available at the Centre, my research benefited from holdings at the Bodleian, Rylands, and York Minster libraries, in addition to the Lambeth Palace Library in London, which houses an extensive collection of letters exchanged between the Bishop of London and Anglican clergymen in colonial America who routinely reported on Whitefield’s activities during his American preaching tours. The time spent as a visiting research fellow at the Centre will, in the not-too-distant future, culminate in scholarship that, hopefully, adds to our understanding of the ways non-Methodists responded to the revival in the eighteenth century, and how Methodism was shaped by public disputation.