I am neither overly ancient nor particularly sage (and certainly not a philosopher). Rather, I am a Graduate student working towards an MA in History at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Canada. This blog will catalogue my journey throughout the program, with an emphasis on sharing my thesis research on the literary works of the 17th- century Scottish clergyman Alexander Ross. I will be making use of a digital humanities toolset throughout my project, and this site will provide an avenue for sharing visualizations and datasets used in my analysis.
But who is Alexander Ross and why should we care?
He was a prolific writer and priest who served as a Chaplain-in-Ordinary to King Charles I from 1622-1649. One of his most popular works was entitled Pansebeia; or View of all the Religions in the World, which was the first comprehensive English compendium of world religions. He was also famous for his defense of Aristotelian science against Copernicus, an attack on Thomas Hobbes, and possibly being the translator of the first English Qur’an. Despite his best-selling popularity in the period, Ross remains largely under-explored in 17th- century Intellectual and Cultural historiography. My research will attempt to offer a broader view of his influence, particularly his impact on early Enlightenment understandings of religious diversity.
Frontispiece to Alexander Ross’ Mystagogus poeticus (London, 1648); print by William Faithorne (British Museum).