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Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 81, Number 1, Spring 2018


"Balaam's Asse" Uncovered: New Light on the Politics of Prophetical Exegesis in Mid-Jacobean Britain

 Emily Jennings

In this essay, Emily Jennings collates the available documentary evidence about the contents, authorship, and reception of "Balaam's Asse," a controversial work of scriptural exegesis addressed to James VI and I and discovered at Whitehall on April 28, 1613. The treatise refuted the common places of Protestant commentary on the Book of Revelation, labeling the king, rather than the pope, as the Antichrist and identifying Britain, not Rome, as Babylon. Its anonymous writer was a witty, audacious Catholic controversialist who exposed and exploited the rhetorical manipulability of the verbal formulae, punitive rituals, commemorations, and biblical interpretations through which Protestant hegemony was typically asserted in mid-Jacobean Britain.

 The Minister, the Millenarian, and the Madman: The Puritan Lives of William Sedgwick, ca. 1609–1664

Richard Thomas Bell

William Sedgwick (ca. 1609–1664) is variously remembered as a godly clergyman, millenarian prophet, or ranting radical. By showing the continuities as well as divergences between these three "lives," Richard Thomas Bell explores the relationship between mainstream and radical puritanism. He builds on recent arguments about the fissiparous nature of the puritan community, demonstrating how an individual could move through seemingly conflicting positions, and how this experience of puritanism—although not preconditioning Sedgwick's politics—underwrote varied and often unexpected responses to political crisis. He argues that, although contemporaries perceived and upheld distinctions between mainstream and radical puritanism, these boundaries were not absolute, revealing consistencies, interactions, and distinctions between the two

 Henry Daniel, Medieval English Medicine, and Linguistic Innovation: A Lexicographic Study of Huntington MS HM 505

Sarah Star

MS HM 505 in the Huntington Library contains the first known academic medical treatise in Middle English, Henry Daniel's Liber uricrisiarum. The manuscript includes more than a thousand English words that either predate, or are contemporary with, their earliest recorded occurrence according to the OED and MED. In this lexicographic study, Sarah Star lists the terms and argues that Henry Daniel occupies a crucial, but hitherto overlooked, place in the history of English medicine and the history of the English language.


 The "Bewitching Lotteries for Virginia," 1616–21: A List of Sites and Charitable Donations

 E. M. Rose

From 1616 to 1621, the Virginia Company of London sponsored lotteries throughout England as a way to fund the Jamestown colony. For the privilege of holding a lottery, the company donated to local charities, established and improved municipal libraries, and supported poor tradesmen, clergymen, apprentices, and schoolmasters directly or through revolving loans. E. M. Rose identifies more than thirty locations of lotteries held from 1616 to 1621 and details the resulting benefactions and disposition of gifts.


The History of Secret Histories

Brian Cowan

pp. 121-151


Untangling the Complexities of Radical Enlightenment

John D. Eigenauer

 pp. 153-156

Jonathan Swift, "Master of Controversy"

 Ashley Marshall

 pp. 157-160




Enlightenment Mythology and the Politics of Romanticism: Blake's Archetypal Myth Revisited


Li-Hui Tsai

pp. 161-169