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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Robert Ingram

COFUND Senior Research Fellow at Van Mildert College, Durham University (April - June 2014)

Dr Robert Ingram is the Associate Professor of History at Ohio University, Athens, USA. Following the publication of the significant book Religion, Reform, and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Secker and the Church of England Dr Ingram has gained a reputation for being an imaginative historian with a bright future. During his Fellowship Dr Ingram proposes to make use of Durham’s range of special collections at Palace Green library, the Durham Cathedral Library and the Ushaw College library to conduct research on his next book: A Warfare upon Earth: Religion and Enlightenment from Newton to Hume.

This project, which will lead to a major monograph, is a fundamental re-working of the relationship between religion and the Enlightenment, a subject which has attracted increasing historical attention in recent years, partly as a result of the challenges to ‘modern’ secular liberalism. Dr Ingram is examining one of the key periods and some of the key figures in the development of Enlightenment thought. His argument that the English Enlightenment should not be seen as a secularizing movement is in tune with much recent scholarship. Much more original is his claim that the primary site of Enlightenment debate was not metaphysics but rather the interpretation and use of the past. This insight is then used to demonstrate that, pace much current scholarship, the English Enlightenment became, contrary to the aims of its leading figures, a powerful solvent of traditional belief.