I would like to draw attention to three aspects of Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation, a book whose courage and ambition I applaud, if for no other reason than that it exemplifies what an engaged form of historiography (and humanistic inquiry more generally) can and should do. The first aspect has to do with the commercialization and commodification of knowledge in post-Reformation modernity and how it impacts advanced inquiry today. From it follows my second concern, which lies with the indebtedness of Gregory’s own narrative to the fruits of modern, disciplinary and specialized inquiry. Finally, I wish to take up the question of whether Gregory’s historiographical approach might be seriously compromised by the apparent absence of a focused hermeneutical engagement with the major voices (theological, philosophical, political, economic, etc.) widely credited with shaping the landscape of post-Reformation modernity, both secular and religious.Read the rest of History without hermeneutics: Brad Gregory’s unintended modernity.
Thomas Pfau is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English at Duke University, with secondary appointments in the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures and the Duke Divinity School. His first book, Wordsworth’s Profession: Form, Class, and the Logic of Early Romantic Cultural Production was published by Stanford University Press in 1997. Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, Melancholy, 1790-1840 appeared from Johns Hopkins UP in 2005. He has edited numerous essay collections, special journal issues, as well as translated two volumes with essays and letters by F. Hölderlin and F. W. J. Schelling. A recipient of fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the ACLS in 2011, Thomas Pfau has just published his latest monograph, Minding the Modern: Human Agency, Intellectual Traditions, and Responsible Knowledge (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013).