"The Relationship Between Modern Paganism and Professional Scholarship"
Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, Bristol university
Time: 15:15 - 17:00
Location: Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6
Modern Paganism, and especially the modern Pagan witchcraft which is its most populous, influential and long-established tradition, represents a very rare phenomenon, of a modern complex of religions based largely on concepts derived from mainstream historical scholarship. As such, it presents an academic researcher with two particular difficulties, and excitements. One is that mainstream scholarship has changed its mind on the issues concerned, and invalidated the model on which modern Paganism was constructed, raising especially delicate issues of relationship between present-day historians and Pagans. The second is that mainstream society still commonly regards Paganism with a degree of suspicion and misrepresentation not accorded to most recently-appeared religions. Any scholar concerned with research into it is therefore likely to have problems both with Pagans and with the wider society and culture around them. This lecture examines the nature and some of the consequences of these issues, with some reference to the author's own work.
I am Professor of History in the University of Bristol, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Learned Society of Wales, and the British Academy. I have served as the historian on the commission which runs English Heritage, and am currently a member of the British government’s Designation Review Committee and chair of the panel which awards commemorative plaques to historic buildings. I have published fifteen books on aspects of political, social, cultural and religious history, including a monograph on the English Civil War, a narrative history of the Stuart Restoration, a biography of Charles II, a survey of what is thought about the pagan religions of the ancient British Isles, two large-scale studies of the history of the ritual year in Britain, an analysis of Siberian shamanism, the first history of modern paganism in Britain, and a survey of the treatment of Druids in British culture over the centuries. I have supervised fifteen students to the completion of Ph.D. theses and six to the completion of other postgraduate dissertations, and acted as an external examiner of postgraduates for twenty-five universities in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia (for several on more than one occasion), an external examiner of undergraduates at two, and an external supervisor of postgraduate students at three university colleges. I was formerly a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and have been at Bristol since 1981.