Professor Alec Ryrie
|Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion||Abbey House 204||+44 (0) 191 33 43926|
|Departmental Rep (Theology) in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies||+44 (0) 191 33 43942|
I am Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham: my field is the history of the Reformation and of Protestantism more widely, including how those histories have made themselves felt down to the present. My first book, twenty years ago, was on the early history of the English Reformation, but I have since ranged further into the history of the Protestant tradition in England, Scotland and internationally. Persistent themes in my work have been the emotional history of religion; religion and politics, war, violence and martyrdom; the Protestant encounter with other faiths, with empire and with the wider world; the relationship between Protestantism and Anglicanism; the history of pious practice and devotion; and histories of religious unorthodoxy, including magic, radical dissent and ‘atheism’, issues that were explored in my most recent major book, Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt (2019), the fruit of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship I held from 2015-18.
I am currently engaged on two main research projects. I am completing a major history of how Protestantism became a missionary religion in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and in January and February 2024 I will be delivering the James Ford Lectures at Oxford on that theme, under the title The World's Reformation.
I am also working on a shorter and more polemical history of how our supposedly 'secular' age, with its many peculiarities, has come about and where it might go next. I delivered the Bampton Lectures at Oxford on this theme in 2022, under the title The Age of Hitler.
I studied History at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (1990-3) and Reformation Studies at St Andrews (1993-4) before completing a DPhil in Theology at Oxford (1996-99) under the supervision of Diarmaid MacCulloch. I taught in the History department at the University of Birmingham from 1999-2006 before moving to Durham in 2007. I served as Head of Department here from 2012-15. I am now the lead convenor of the History of Christianity seminar. I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2019.
In addition to my role in Durham, I was Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London, for 2018-22, and am now a Fellow of the College; I am one of the co-editors of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History and am president of the Church of England Record Society. In 2019-21 I was president of the Ecclesiastical History Society. I have held research fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library (three times), the Huntington Library and the Leibniz Institute for European History. I have also done a wide range of work on radio, television and podcasts, including six series of lectures for Gresham College, and both print and online journalism. I am a licenced Reader (lay minister) in the Church of England.
In Durham I teach modules including Introduction to the History of Christianity, The Reformation and its Legacy and The Globalisation of Christianity, and I find I derive a lot of my energy as a historian from working with our excellent students on these and other modules. I have also been lucky enough to supervise some outstanding research students here and am always on the lookout for more. My current and recent students’ topics include:
- Church and child in early modern England
- The emergence of early evangelical beliefs in the English Reformation
- The careers of chantry clergy in the sixteenth century
- The reformation of the liturgy under Henry VIII
- The metrical psalms in the English Reformation
- The Church of England's official Homilies and their impact
- The printing industry and religion in the reign of Edward VI
- The material culture of the sixteenth-century parish church
- Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestant views of Lollardy
- The historiography of Lollardy and Wyclif in the 18th-20th centuries
- The diplomatic and political history of the Scottish Reformation
- The theology of death and dying in early modern Scotland
- Calvin's eucharistic theology
- The material culture of seventeenth-century English Catholicism
- Pastoral theology in sixteenth-century Lutheranism
- Studies of various early modern English theologians including Richard Hooker, Thomas Goodwin, Ralph Venning and John Flavel
- History and theology of the English Reformation
- History and theology of the Scottish Reformation
- Piety, prayer and spirituality in Protestantism
- Moderation in the Reformation era
- Magic and faith in early modern Europe
- 2015: Monks in Motion: A prosopographical study of the English and Welsh Benedictines in exile, 1553-1800(£185190.20 from AHRC)
Available for media contact about:
- Middle Ages & Early Modern History: History of Tudor England
- Religion: History of the Reformation
- Theology: History of the Reformation
- Middle Ages & Early Modern History: History of the Reformation
- Middle Ages & Early Modern History: Reign of Henry VIII
- Ryrie, Alec (2020). The English Reformation: A Very Brief History. SPCK.
- Ryrie, Alec (2019). Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt. Harvard University Press / Harper Collins.
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). Protestants: The Radicals who Made the Modern World. London: William Collins.
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). The Age of Reformation: The Tudor and Stewart Realms 1485-1603. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
- Alec Ryrie (2013). Being Protestant in Reformation Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Ryrie, Alec (2009). The Age of Reformation: The Tudor and Stewart Realms, 1485-1603. Harlow: Pearson.
- Ryrie, Alec (2008). The Sorcerer's Tale: Faith and Fraud in Tudor England. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2006). The Origins of the Scottish Reformation. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2003). The Gospel and Henry VIII: Evangelicals in the Early English Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chapter in book
- Ryrie, Alec (2023). Two Ways to Read the Bible in the (Very) Long Reformation. In Reading the Reformations: Theologies, Cultures and Beliefs in an Age of Change. French, Anna Leiden: Brill. 308-326.
- Ryrie, Alec (2022). The Vernacular Scripture Fallacy and the Failure of Early Protestant Mission. In Reformation, Communication and the Book in Early Modern Europe: Essays in honour of Andrew Pettegree, Volume 1. der Weduwen, Arthur & Walsby, Malcolm Leiden: Brill. 106: 150-164.
- Ryrie, Alec (2022). The Ecumenical Council of Dordt. In A Landmark in Turbulent Times: The Meaning and Relevance of the Synod of Dordt (1618–1619). van der Belt, Henk, de Jong, Klaas Willem & van Vlastuin, Willem Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 84: 23-36.
- Ryrie, Alec (2021). The Myth of the Church of England. In Contesting Orthodoxies in the History of Christianity: essays in honour of Diarmaid MacCulloch. Gebarowski-Shafer, Ellie, Null, Ashley & Ryrie, Alec Boydell & Brewer.
- Ryrie, Alec (2020). The Liturgical Commemoration of the Reformation, 1534-1625. In Memory and the English Reformation. Walsham, Alexandra, Wallace, Bronwyn, Law, Ceri & Cummings, Brian Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Ryrie, Alec (2020). The Missionary Problem in Early Modern Protestantism: British, Irish and Scandinavian Perspectives. In Northern European Reformations: Transnational Perspectives. Kelly, James E., Laugerud, Henning & Ryan, Salvador Palgrave Macmillan.
- Ryrie, Alec (2019). Protestants. In Early Modern Childhood: An Introduction. French, Anna Routledge.
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). Reformations. In A Social History of England 1500-1750. Wrightson, Keith Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 107-128.
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). The Nature of Spiritual Experience. In The Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations. Rublack, Ulinka Oxford: Oxford University Press. 47-63.
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). Scripture, the Spirit and the Meaning of Radicalism in the English Revolution. In Radicalism and Dissent in the World of Protestant Reform. Heal, Bridget & Kremers, Anorthe Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 100-117.
- Ryrie, Alec (2016). Religion and religious change. In Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources. Sangha, Laura & Willis, Jonathan Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 170-186.
- Ryrie, Alec (2016). Facing Childhood Death in English Protestant Spirituality. In Death, Emotion and Childhood in Premodern Europe. Barclay, Katie, Rawnsley, Ciara & Reynolds, Kimberley London: Palgrave Macmillan. 109-127.
- Ryrie, Alec & Schwanda, Tom (2016). Introduction. In Puritanism and Emotion in the Early Modern World. Ryrie, Alec & Schwanda, Tom Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 1-12.
- Alec Ryrie (2013). The fall and rise of fasting in the British Reformations. In Worship and the Parish Church in Early Modern Britain. Natalie Mears & Alec Ryrie Farnham, England: Ashgate. 89-108.
- Alec Ryrie (2012). Sleeping, waking and dreaming in Protestant piety. In Private and Domestic Devotion in Early Modern Britain. Jessica Martin & Alec Ryrie Farnham: Ashgate. 73-92.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2010). The Afterlife of Lutheran England. In Sister Reformations: The Reformation in Germany and England = Schwesterreformationen Die Reformation in Deutschland und in England. Wendebourg, Dorothea. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 213-234.
- Ryrie, Alec (2009). The slow death of a tyrant: learning to live without Henry VIII, 1547-1563. In Henry VIII and his Afterlives: Literature, Politics and Art. Rankin, Mark, Highley, Christopher & King, John N. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 75-93.
- Ryrie, Alec & Ó hAnnráchain, Tadhg (2008). Les îles Britanniques et l'Irlande. In L'Europe en conflits: les affrontements religieux et la genèse de l'Europe moderne vers 1500-vers 1630. Kaiser, Wolfgang Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 287-319.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2002). Counting sheep, counting shepherds the problem of allegiance in the English Reformation. In The Beginnings of English Protestantism. Marshall, Peter. & Ryrie, Alec. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 84-110.
- Ryrie, Alec & Schwanda, Tom (2016). Puritanism and Emotion in the Early Modern World. Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1500-1800. Palgrave.
- Jessica Martin & Alec Ryrie (2013). Private and Domestic Devotion in Early Modern Britain. Ashgate.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2006). Palgrave Advances in the European Reformations. Palgrave Advances. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Racaut, Luc. & Ryrie, Alec. (2005). Moderate Voices in the European Reformation. St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History. Aldershot: Ashgate.
- Marshall, Peter. & Ryrie, Alec. (2002). The Beginnings of English Protestantism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Ryrie, Alec & Trim, David (2022). Four axes of mission: Conversion and the purposes of mission in Protestant history. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 32: 113-133.
- Ryrie, Alec (2021). Seeking the Seekers. Studies in Church History 57: 185-209.
- Ryrie, Alec (2019). A Half-Century Retrospect: The View from 2069. Sixteenth Century Journal 50(1).
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). Prologue: When did the English Reformation happen? A historiographical curiosity and its interpretative consequences. Études Épistémè (32).
- Ryrie, Alec (2017). The Protestant Apolitical Tradition and its Legacy. Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 108(1): 234-244.
- Ryrie, Alec (2016). ‘PROTESTANTISM’ AS A HISTORICAL CATEGORY. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 26: 59-77.
- Ryrie, Alec (2010). The Psalms and Confrontation in English and Scottish Protestantism. Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 101: 114-137.
- Ryrie, Alec (2009). Paths not taken in the British Reformations. Historical Journal 52(1): 1-22.
- Ryrie, Alec (2009). Calvin and Ecumenism. One in Christ 43(2): 25-34.
- Ryrie, Alec (2008). The Reinvention of Devotion in the British Reformations. Studies in Church History 44: Revival and Resurgence in Christian History: 87-105.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2006). Congregations, Conventicles and the Nature of Early Scottish Protestantism. Past & Present 191(1): 45-76.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2005). England's Last Medieval Heresy Hunt: Gloucestershire 1540. Midland History 30: 37-52.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2004). Reform without frontiers in the last years of Catholic Scotland. The English Historical Review 119(480): 27-56.
- Riordan, Michael. & Ryrie, Alec. (2003). Stephen Gardiner and the Making of a Protestant Villain. The Sixteenth Century Journal 34(4): 1039-1063.
- Ryrie, Alec. (2002). Divine Kingship and Royal Theology in Henry VIII's Reformation. Reformation 7: 49-77.
- Ryrie, Alec (2002). The strange death of Lutheran England. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 53(1): 64-92.