Review of the year

This time last year the IJBS Executive Committee set itself some ‘challenges’ for 2014, most of which (though not all!) have been met:

Xmas Greeting IJBS 2014

  • the first was to redesign The Recorder, which appeared last June for the first time in a magnificent electronic edition supervised by Nathalie Collé-Bak, now available to download;
  • the IJBS was beginning to suffer from the lack of a constitution and bye-laws. With the best of current practice in mind, and working from David Gay’s account of the role of the officers, the Executive Committee produced a new set of documents, overseen by our past Presidents, which are now also available on this site;
  • in December 2013, the possibility of a meeting at Harlington Manor was a mere glint in our eyes. Thanks to the diligence of General Secretary Bob Owens, and to the hospitality of the Blakeman family, it became a reality on 23 May 2014. As you will see below, such meetings are now a feature of IJBS;
  • finally, David Parry revised and updated one of our major resources, the online and fully-searchable Bunyan Bibliography, adding 167 new references for the period 2010 to 2014.

We had promised you that this site would be revamped, and in particular that the addition of payment buttons would allow you to renew your membership online. This has not yet been accomplished due to delays beyond the control of the Executive Committee, but we are now back on track and, as I write, ‘e-commerce’ solutions are being put in place. We are confident that you will soon be able to renew your subscription online. As this is put into operation, you may experience some small disruptions to the website in the next few weeks.

 Other developments, we had not fully anticipated :

    • following the regional Harlington meeting in 2014, an IJBS one-day conference has now been set up by David Walker and Bob Owens. This will take place on 10 April 2015 at the University of Bedfordshire. Many thanks to our two officers for organising this day, which promises to be a great success and a good opportunity for our members to meet again. You can download the call for papers here. Please do not forget to register to attend;
    • we have instituted two new kinds of membership: an Institutional Membership for libraries, and an Honorary Membership. In November 2014, Stanley Fish, Isabel Rivers, Terry Waite and David Wykes accepted to become the first Honorary Members of the IJBS. From 2016 our members will be able to nominate personalities who will be voted on at the AGM;
    • IJBS publicity leaflets have been prepared by our General Secretary and members should all have received some copies. Please distribute them as you see fit as they are a good way of increasing the visibility of the Society;
    • finally, although we knew that the Aix 2016 conference was shaping up, little did we know that we would be the recipients of a major private donation that would allow young researchers to join us (see the Post below). At this festive season, let us thank our anonymous benefactor.

May I also take this opportunity to announce that four wonderful scholars have accepted to give plenaries at the 2016 conference : Alec Ryrie (Durham), Andrew Spicer (Oxford Brookes), Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge) and Helen Wilcox (Bangor). We look forward to welcoming them in Aix. The call for papers will be out in January, so watch this space.

In the coming year, your Executive Committee will do its utmost to ensure new benefits for the IJBS. There will be the Bedford day-conference, another issue of The Recorder, preparations for Aix 2016 will mature, and this site should offer the opportunity to renew membership online. As I urged you last spring in The Recorder, please do not hesitate to get in touch to suggest new ideas, propose directions in which you think IJBS should develop in the near future and ponder opportunities for regional meetings.

None of this could have been achieved without the time and dedication of the IJBS officers: Nathalie Collé-Bak, David Gay, Galen Johnson, Bob Owens and David Walker.

 Wherever you are, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

 Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

 

Honorary Members

The international John Bunyan Society is delighted to announce that four distinguished scholars and personalities have been honored with Life Membership on 1st November 2014:

Professor Stanley Fish

Professor Isabel Rivers

Terry Waite CBE

Dr David L. Wykes

“Life-membership is conferred upon scholars, experts, or public personalities of international standing whose life and work have promoted awareness of Protestant history and literature and/or contributed significantly to research, teaching and public engagement in the field of Protestantism and Dissenting studies.”

For more information about our Honorary Members, click here.

A donation for IJBS

It is with very great pleasure that I announce that an anonymous donor has donated the sum of £10,000 (€12,500/US$16,500) to the International John Bunyan Society.

The donation is primarily intended to establish a number of bursaries for doctoral students, and for young researchers not in full-time employment, who wish to attend and present a paper at the 2016 triennial conference in Aix-en-Provence, with the remainder to be targeted towards key strategic areas identified by the Executive Committee for the development of the Society.

Thanks to the bursaries, young scholars will be given a unique opportunity to present their work and projects at the conference. More information about the application and selection process will be posted in due course on the website, but may I encourage all supervisors to start publicising the bursaries as widely as possible in their institutions and among their students.

I know all members will all join me in expressing our deepest thanks to our donor whose generosity will ensure that the IJBS carries on promoting the study of Bunyan and the history and culture of Dissent, through a renewed attention to its young and talented scholars.

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

Aix-en-Provence 2016

“Voicing Dissent in the Long Reformation”

The Eighth Triennial Conference of the International John Bunyan Society

(Aix-en-Provence, 6-9 July 2016)

The preparations for the Aix-en-Provence triennial conference of the IJBS are well under way and we have posted a preliminary announcement on our ‘Conference’ page. Please check the page regularly as we will keep updating it. The Call for Papers will be issued in January 2015 and proposals for papers and panels will be accepted until 31st May 2015.

We are looking forward to hearing from you all in due course and welcoming you to Provence!

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

By Guillaume 1995 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sénanque Abbey. By Guillaume 1995 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Appeal from Bunyan Meeting, Bedford

The IJBS is happy to relay this appeal from Bunyan Meeting, Bedford

‘Bunyan Meeting in Mill Street, Bedford is one of the most important Nonconformist churches in the UK. Its origins go back to 1650, when a group of men and women began worshipping in Bedford outside the confines of the Church of England. In 1672, shortly after John Bunyan was elected pastor, the congregation purchased an orchard in Mill Lane (now Mill Street), and a barn in the orchard was licensed for preaching.

Capture d’écran 2014-08-19 à 17.29.14

And so began the history of Bunyan Meeting. The Reverend Christopher Damp, the present minister, is the twenty-first minister of the church. The building that stands today is the third purpose-built church on the site. It was opened in 1849 and the schoolrooms which back onto Castle Lane were added in 1866.

Today, Bunyan Meeting is a thriving town-centre Church, which as well as still holding two services on a Sunday, is open throughout the week, Tuesday–Saturday, and is ‘home’ to various community groups as diverse as Sight Concern and Bedford Town Band.

 Why this appeal?

Unfortunately, time and the elements have caught up with the buildings and today’s congregation and trustees find themselves facing a repair bill of over £660,000. The roof over the schoolrooms, which was only re-slated about 30 years ago, has to be replaced as the Spanish slates which were used have reacted with our environment and climate and holes have appeared in as many as 60% of them’.

Carry on reading about the Appeal and how you can contribute here.

IJBS’s meeting at Harlington Manor

Joel Halcomb, David Parry, Roger Pooley, Bob Owens, David Walker, Nathalie Collé-Bak, Tamsin Spargo, Michael Davies, Anne Page, Christopher Page, Lydia Saul and Vera Camden.

Joel Halcomb, David Parry, Roger Pooley, Bob Owens, David Walker, Nathalie Collé-Bak, Tamsin Spargo, Michael Davies, Anne Page, Christopher Page, Lydia Saul and Vera Camden.

To stand in the very room where John Bunyan waited to be interrogated at Harlington manor in Bedfordshire; to follow his footsteps into the main part of the house where the questioning took place; to find the same panelling on the wall that Bunyan would have seen and the same fireplace where the fire would have been roaring that chilly November evening in 1660: this was all an extraordinary experience for twelve members of IJBS when the society held its first ever spring-day meeting at Harlington Manor on 23rd May 2014. There were members from France, Britain and the USA.

Bunyan window in Harlington Church

After a short train journey from London St Pancras, we gathered for a pub lunch in the village before meeting the present owner of Harlington Manor, David Blakeman. David then gave us a most interesting and erudite tour of the house culminating in the visit to the two rooms mentioned above. This was a moving occasion for us all, since for most of us it was our first visit to the house and gardens.

We then retreated to the dining room for a meeting held in two parts: Vera Camden, currently on a research trip to Dr Williams’s Library, London, spoke about her forthcoming edition of Mary Franklin’s commonplace book and ‘experience’, a manuscript of the 1680s taken up a hundred years later by her granddaughter Hannah Burton. Then David Parry presented some of his current work on conceptions of rhetoric and allegory in Puritan writings.

???????????????????????David Blakeman’s six-year old son Alex is currently collecting for Addenbrookes charity, so during our break, after the two papers, we were served tea and delicious cakes for a modest contribution to this worthy cause.

The second part of the afternoon was dedicated to IJBS business, according to the following agenda:

  • 2016 Triennial Conference planning (report by President, Anne Page)
  • Links with other relevant societies
  • Membership (report by Secretary, Bob Owens)
  • Finance (report by European Treasurer, David Walker)
  • Website and communication with members (report by President, Anne Page)
  • The Recorder (report by Editor, Nathalie Collé-Bak)
  • Bunyan Studies (report by Editor, Bob Owens)

 IMG_0943The ensuing discussion concluded that the IJBS should pursue three main actions in the next few months: (1) to encourage institutional membership by targeting libraries and institutions with Dissenting interests, (2) to place panels, introducing the society and its work, in the programmes or accompanying literature for international conferences, and (3) to institute a category of Honorary Membership. Furthermore, Bob Owens and David Walker announced plans for an Annual Bunyan Symposium to be convened conjointly by the Universities of Bedfordshire and Northumbria. Those who have seen the magnificent (and imminent) edition of The Recorder prepared by Nathalie Collé-Bak were able to give her the warmest praise and thanks, while others wait in eager anticipation!

Owner David Blakeman with Committee members Bob Owens, David Walker and Nathalie Collé-Bak

Owner David Blakeman with Committee members Bob Owens, David Walker and Nathalie Collé-Bak

The IJBS Harlington day was a truly memorable event, combining historical interest, research, Society business and true companionship. We hope to hold another one of these before too long! We would all like to thank David Blakeman and his family most warmly, for welcoming us to a house of such very great significance to Bunyanists, Bob Owens, for devising the magnificent programme, and the members of the IJBS who were willing to contribute in this way to the life of our Society.

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

Richard L. Greaves Prize: 2016 Committee

The Executive Committee of the IJBS is delighted to announce that the selection Committee of the 2016 Richard L. Greaves Prize has been appointed (see corresponding page on this website). The jury will examine works published between 2013 and 2015 and present the Prize at the 2016 8th Triennial conference in Aix-en-Provence (France).

You can download the Prize’s regulations and procedures here.

Chairman

N. H. Keeble is Professor of English Studies at the University of Stirling. His research interests lie in English cultural history of the period 1500-1700, in particular: (i) the Puritan tradition (Baxter, Bunyan, Cromwell, Fox, Marvell, Milton); (ii) prose (fictional and non-fictional); (iii) the Civil War and English Revolution; (iv) constructions of woman and writing by women; (v) the Restoration; (v) early modern print culture. His publications include Richard Baxter: Puritan Man of Letters (1982), The Literary Culture of Nonconformity in later seventeenth-century England (1987), The Restoration: England in the 1660s (2002). He has edited John Bunyan, Conventicle and Parnassus (1988) and John Bunyan: Reading Dissenting Writing (2003), as well as The Pilgrim’s Progress in the Oxford World’s Classics (1998). He is currently leading a team preparing a scholarly edition of Reliquiae Baxterianae for Oxford University Press. More about Neil Keeble on his institutional website, http://rms.stir.ac.uk/converis-stirling/person/11778.

Judges

Ann Hughes is from February 2014 Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emerita at Keele University, where she was Professor of Early Modern History between 1995 and 2014. She specialises in the history of early modern England with particular interests in the culture, religion and politics of the English civil war or English Revolution. In recent years she has worked on religious debate and polemic, print culture, gender and radicalism. Her publications include Gangraena and the Struggle for the English Revolution (2004), Gender and the English Revolution (2011) and, edited with Thomas Corns and David Loewenstein, The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley (2009). Her work has benefited from the influence of literary scholars and she is committed to inter-disciplinary approaches. Current projects include a book on preaching during the Revolution, and work on financial accounts and memorialisation during the civil war.More about Ann Hugues on her institutional website,      http://www.keele.ac.uk/hss/facultycontacts/annhughes/.

Cynthia Wall is Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of Virginia and a specialist of Restoration and eighteenth-century literature. She is the author of The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London (1998) and The Prose of Things (2006) and we owe her the Norton Edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress (2008). She has edited The Concise Companion to the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (Blackwell, 2005) and Eighteenth-Century Genre and Culture: Serious Reflections on Occasional Forms (2001, with Dennis Todd), as well as the Penguin Edition of A Journal of the Plague Year (2003). Her Norton Critical Edition of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama is forthcoming in 2014. More about Cynthia Wall on her institutional website, http://www.engl.virginia.edu/people/cw5p.