The Quaker Studies Unit seeks to advance critical scholarship of Quakerism and sub-fields that interact with Quaker history, practice and thought. This Unit is particularly focused on interdisciplinary analyses of Quakerism in its global contexts and the breadth of its theological diversity. Quaker Studies includes the variety of religious traditions that derive from the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as well as the spiritual and social movements and practices that claim Quaker influence.
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Quaker Studies Unit
Call for Proposals
1) Co-sponsored with Eastern Orthodox Unit: Spiritual Light in the Orthodox and Quaker Spiritual Traditions
The notion of spiritual light occurs in both Orthodox Christianity and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). For George Fox, founder of the Friends, God endows each human being with a measure of his own Divine Spirit. Fox spoke of the Inward Light, coming “from beyond”; the Inner Light is the Divine Light in every person, which guides, teaches, and leads to salvation, and brings those who accept it into unity with God and each other. Many ancient and modern Orthodox spiritual figures report experiences of God or Christ as Light, experiences understood to be Uncreated Divine Light, not created light nor psychological phenomena, and are compared with the light experienced by the Apostles at the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor (Mt. 17:1-8). This co-sponsored session will explore the sense and significance of the notion of spiritual light and the place of spiritual light in the overall theology and spirituality in the Orthodox and Quaker traditions. Emphasis will be given to proposed papers which compare and contrast explanations and descriptions of spiritual light in the two traditions, as well as actual experiences of such light by their adherents, highlighting commonalities and divergences.
2) Revolution, Persecution, and Dissent in Boston and Beyond:
This panel seeks paper proposals exploring the history of revolutionary ideas and events in Quaker engagements with culture. Boston is a symbolic place in this history both because of its role in the Revolutionary War, which impacted the status of dissenters in America, and, also, because between 1659 and 1661 four Quakers were executed by Boston officials for preaching their faith. One of these martyrs was Mary Dyer, whose likeness was made into a statue on Boston Commons. Boston, then, is symbolic space in the history and mythologies of Quaker persistence in the face of persecution, innocence of conviction, and martyrdom for a cause. In this respect, the place of Boston is viewed conceptually as a locus for revolutionary, divergent and dissenting ideas and actions. This panel seeks proposals from all disciplines that address Quakers and related movements as they navigate change, dissent, and persecution, whether that be through historical eras or in society today.
3) Open Call: The Quaker Studies Unit invites paper proposals on any topic related to Quakerism, to religious groups that bear a family resemblance to Quakerism, or to secular social movements that have been influenced by Quaker ideals.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Jane Calvert, University of KentuckyMember Since: 2016
Philip Clayton, Claremont School of TheologyMember Since: 2015
Pink Dandelion, University of BirminghamMember Since: 2017
Laurel D. Kearns, Drew UniversityMember Since: 2020
Esther Mombo, St. Paul's UniversityMember Since: 2017
David Harrington Watt, Haverford CollegeMember Since: 2020