In my dissertation ( “The Boundaries of Being French: Religious Liberty, Absolute Sovereignty, and Citizenship in the French Civil Wars”), I investigate the histories of rights, citizenship, and sovereignty by placing ideas about religious liberty into the context of how people actually used them during the sixteenth-century French civil wars. In doing so, I simultaneously break down the artificial divisions between religious history, political history, and confessionally-based histories of Catholics and Protestants. I further examine how French subjects debated the boundaries of being French at a moment in which those boundaries were being challenged by religious pluralism and redefined in response to the monarchy’s use of freedom of conscience during the violent period of the civil wars.
As a Marty Center Junior Fellow, I look forward to participating in the Marty Fellows Seminar with scholars of religion from the Divinity School and other divisions on campus. This environment will provide valuable feedback on the aspect of my work that deals with the history of religion and belief. It is crucial for my project that I do justice to both the religious and political aspects of this history. In addition, I value the importance that the fellowship program places on broader intellectual engagement outside of the University of Chicago through teaching, mentorships, and public presentations. I firmly believe that taking scholarship seriously includes being aware of its real implications in the world. That the seminar encourages examining how the participants’ research interacts with other disciplines as well as a larger contemporary context is an aspect of the fellowship I find exciting. In short, I am happy to join the community of Marty Fellows for the 2016-17 academic year in order to share my own experiences and learn from those of others in a context that takes religion and its intellectual, social, and political implications seriously.