What’s that? Oh, yeah. My work. Let’s see. This past week I submitted an application for a grant to cover travel expenses to England this summer. I’m planning to do some research that will go a long way towards turning my dissertation — on eighteenth-century Methodism, print culture, and oratory — into a book. The Methodists were uncanny in their exploitation of the print medium, and I’d like to uncover unexamined details about how they produced and distributed their printed material. Also, I’m still trying to work out exactly the contours of their preaching, for which they earned from their contemporaries a reputation as fanatics. My hunch is that they didn’t deserve this reputation, but that something interesting is going on with their oral practice. From the application:
The worldís largest collection of rare printed and manuscript materials related to eighteenth-century British Methodism is kept at the Methodist Archives and Research Centre (MARC), located at John Rylands University Library (JRUL) at the University of Manchester in England. The MARC is generally considered one of the most valuable repositories of primary materials in the world for evangelical studies. Most importantly for my purposes, the MARC has singularly important personal papers of not only the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley, but also the personal papers of many prominent Methodist laypeople of this period as well as detailed administrative records of the Methodist Conference, the national policymaking body of the Methodist Church of England, Wales and Scotland. The vast majority of this material is unavailable in printed form or in microfilm collections; research at the MARC is thus the only avenue of access to this material.
I didn’t write this part into the grant application, but depending on the timing of my trip, I might even be able to catch a Radiohead show. Alas, all sold out.