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Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'The Social and Political Thought of the Oxford Movement$
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S. A. Skinner

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273232.001.0001

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Introduction Introduction ‘Meddling with the World’: Tractarian Commentary and Posterity

Introduction Introduction ‘Meddling with the World’: Tractarian Commentary and Posterity

(p.1) Introduction ‘Meddling with the World’: Tractarian Commentary and Posterity
Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'

S. A. Skinner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This book challenges conventional assumptions of tractarianism as an episode in church history and rejects the notion that tractarians had little interest in social questions. It argues that, by a natural application of their assumptions of the church's primacy over the state, first-generation tractarians directed a vigorous commentary to the ‘condition of England’ question. The book makes systematic use of two neglected, though rich, polemical sources. The first is the British Critic, a quarterly periodical for whose editorial control John Henry Newman successfully manoeuvred in the late 1830s and which served as tractarianism's house magazine between 1838 and 1843. The second is the canon of social novels issued by some of the movement's prolific yet forgotten adherents, in particular William Gresley and Francis Edward Paget. This book shows that social criticism was neither a marginal nor latent but an organic element of first-generation tractarianism, one aggressively articulated across a broad polemical front. By focusing on the confessional politics and ecclesiastical paternalism disclosed by tractarian commentary, this book aims to help redress a historiographical imbalance.

Keywords:   England, tractarianism, church history, social novels, Francis Edward Paget, William Gresley, John Henry Newman, social criticism, confessional politics, ecclesiastical paternalism

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