The James Ford Lectures : Memory and Archive

 A special reception for our alumni community will be taking place in the North School following this lecture.  If you would like to attend, please contact

The James Ford Lectures in British History, 2018

Lecture Six: Memory and Archive

The final lecture examines memory and its transmutations over the course of the several generations that experienced England’s long and contested Reformation. It will investigate when and why men and women sought to record the religious changes they had witnessed and in which they had participated, and the forms in which they transmitted these recollections to posterity as legacies, including written and printed texts, oral tradition, and material objects handed down as heirlooms. It will examine what they strategically forgot as well as what they remembered and how they retrospectively recast and selectively edited their own lives as their religious and cultural preoccupations changed over time. As well as engaging with recent work about early modern memory, it also seeks to evaluate the role of the family and of generational transmission in creating the very archives and libraries through which our own knowledge of the Reformation past is filtered, and the interpretative paradigms that shape how we analyse it.


The Reformation of the Generations: Age, Ancestry, and Memory in England c. 1500-1700

This series of lectures seeks to inject fresh energy into debates about England’s plural and protracted Reformations by adopting the concept of generation as its analytical framework. Its aim is to investigate how the tumultuous religious developments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries not merely transformed the generations that experienced it, but also reconfigured the nexus between memory, history, and time. The lectures examine how age and ancestry were implicated in the theological and cultural upheavals of the era and explore how the Reformation shaped the horizontal relationships that early modern people formed with their siblings, kin, and peers, as well as the vertical ones that tied them to their dead ancestors and their future heirs. They highlight the important part that the family has played in shaping our knowledge of the Reformation past and in the making of its archive. They contend that religious revolution had both biological and social dimensions.