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'Licencious gaddyng abroade': a conflicted imaginary of mobility in early modern English Protestant writings

Graham, E (2019) 'Licencious gaddyng abroade': a conflicted imaginary of mobility in early modern English Protestant writings. Etudes Epistémè, 35. ISSN 1634-0450

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A history of the little word “gadding”, I suggest in this article, is revealing. Tracking its appearance in early-modern English printed texts shows how it was almost always used pejoratively: gadding is repeatedly connected with an unquiet spirit, with all that is disordered, unruly, hectic, frazzled, busy, malign – or Roman Catholic. There were peaks of use of this word in the 1580s and 1660s. These correlate with particularly intense periods of cultural, religious and political anxiety over itinerancy and other forms of geographic mobility. Consideration of this context, looking particularly at the 1583 English translation of Calvin’s [S]ermons [...] vpon [...] Deuteronomie and its relation to Calvin's original texts and their contexts, suggests that anxiety about mobility is a particularly English feature of Protestant thought.
But, alongside an inherited uneasiness about gadding, a desire for travel was equally compelling for many mid-seventeenth-century sectaries. So, it is the imaginative and spiritual conflict produced by this tension that primarily concerns me in this article. Beginning with the familiar accounts of Anna Trapnel’s and John Bunyan’s trials, and moving through examples of several nonconformist spiritual narratives, I trace ways in which this conflicted position underpins a range of uses of oral and print forms. From these readings, I suggest the particular dynamics of English Protestantism lend themselves to its becoming a crucial site for the negotiation of the period’s overall political, economic, spiritual, epistemic and social concern with mobility and, conversely, how mobility in itself becomes a core preoccupation of early-modern English Protestant thought.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2005 Literary Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Institut du Monde Anglophone
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 09:38
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 09:41
Editors: Page, A, Barros, P, Sterritt, L and Owens, B
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10234
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