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Susan E. Rosa
Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago, IL 60625-4699)
Catholic Polemic and the Origins of Enlightenment Rationalism, 1586-1688

I am requesting funding from the NEH in order to complete the final draft of a book manuscript entitled "Catholic Polemic and the Origins of Enlightenment Rationalism, 1586-1688." This study surveys an international body of polemical literature generated by the Catholic campaign to make good the losses of the Reformation by converting Protestant royalty, aristocrats, scholars, and clergy. This literature includes exemplary conversion accounts by eminent individuals, treatises on how to obtain conversions, polemics aimed at potential educated converts, and records of public disputations organized for their benefit. I trace the development of the polemical theology represented by these texts and show that under the constraints of controversy, it came, despite the intentions of its framers, to be increasingly marked by strategies of rhetoric and argumentation that helped to foster the rationalized discourse about religion that we identify with Enlightenment. The research for the manuscript has been completed. It has received an advance contract from the University of Notre Dame Press with an agreed delivery date of December, 2004. If I obtain funding, I will use the period from January to September, 2004, together with a sabbatical leave from my university from September, 2004 to January, 2005 to complete the final draft.

Project fields:
European History

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2004 – 9/30/2004