LRS: Anglican Global Crossings and the Specters of Islam in the Early Modern Period

London Renaissance Seminar Summer Lecture 13 July 2015
5.30pm, Room 112, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1

Wine will be served.  All welcome. Any queries please contact

We welcome Professor Jyotsna Singh to deliver the London Renaissance Summer Lecture, and to be London Renaissance Summer Fellow. Do join us for the lecture which inaugurates her fellowship:

Anglican Global Crossings and the Specters of Islam in the Early Modern Period

This paper offers a comparative re-examination of the narratives of two Anglican Ministers, interested in travel writing — Samuel Purchas( 1555-1626), and Edward Terry (1519-1660). I focus on how both offer complicated mediations of Islam, bringing to life the global crossings and identity formations of both Christians and Muslims. Terry spent three years in India, 1616-19, as the Chaplain for Sir Thomas Roe, Ambassador to the Mughal Court of the Emperor Jahangir and emissary of the East India Company. His detailed journal, A Voyage to East India (1625 and 1655) contains an important discussion of Indian religions, most notably of the differences between Hindus and “Mahometans.” It is telling that Terry’s journal was published by Samuel Purchas in his huge anthology of travel writings, Purchas, his Pilgrimage or Relations of the World and the Religions Observed … (1614) and in, another edition, Purchas, His Pilgrimes (1625), both of which focus on Islam in Book III. How do Islam and Christianity emerge in these Anglican accounts? While both Anglicans rejected Islam, viewing "religion" as synonymous to Christian truth, they also interpreted Islam with some complexity and ambiguity, notable in their efforts to categorize new ethnographic knowledge about the Muslim world. Finally, the discourse of “religion” that emerges in these Anglican accounts serves as an important context for understanding other Christian engagements with Islam in India and elsewhere, including those of other English Chaplains, Jesuits, and Dutch religious personages.

Jyotsna G. Singh, Professor Department of English, Michigan State University.

The London Renaissance Seminar meets at Birkbeck to discuss topics in the culture of the Renaissance. Anyone with an interest in the Renaissance is welcome to attend. Seminars are usually held in the School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square.

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