Prior, Charles W.A. 1969-

views updated

Prior, Charles W.A. 1969-


Born November 24, 1969. Education: Queen's University, B.A. (with honors), 1997, Ph.D., 2003; University of Toronto, M.A., 1999.


Office—University of Hull, Cottingham Rd., Hull, East Yorkshire HU6 7RX, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Historian, educator, and author. Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, teaching fellow, 2000-03, adjunct assistant professor, 2003-04, 2006-07; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, research fellow, 2004-06; University of Hull, Hull, East Yorkshire, England, lecturer, 2007—. Visiting fellow, International Study Centre, 2004.


Royal Historical Society (fellow).


(Editor) Mandeville and Augustan Ideas: New Essays, English Literary Studies (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2000.

Defining the Jacobean Church: The Politics of Religious Controversy, 1603-1625, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including the University of Toronto Quarterly, English Historical Review, Modern Language Review, and Studies in English Literature.


Charles W.A. Prior is a historian, writer, editor, and lecturer. He earned his B.A., with honors, from Queen's University in 1997, going on to receive his M.A. from the University of Toronto in 1999. He then returned to Queen's University, where he took his Ph.D. in 2003. Throughout his early teaching career, Prior stayed on at Queen's University, working as a teaching fellow and then adjunct assistant professor. During this time, Prior also was a research fellow at the University of Cambridge. In 2007, he joined the University of Hull faculty as a lecturer. Throughout his scholarly career, Prior has contributed to periodicals such as the University of Toronto Quarterly, English Historical Review, Modern Language Review, and Studies in English Literature. On his home page, Prior stated: "My current research project builds on my most recent book, and is concerned with the ways in which the British conflict of the 1640s can be seen as a ‘war of religion.’"

Prior's first full-length publication, which he edited, is titled Mandeville and Augustan Ideas: New Essays. The book was published in 2000 and is a collection of essays on Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), a satirist and philosopher whose best-known work is The Fable of the Bees. Mandeville and Augustan Ideas was widely reviewed, and it met with a positive critical reception. Dario Castiglione, reviewing the book in the English Historical Review, observed that the volume is "interesting and worthwhile to read." While Castiglione felt that the collected essays "may not offer ‘new perspectives’ on Mandeville's work, his morals and politics, … they usefully refine our understanding of them." Furthermore, Castiglione asserted that "Mandeville's system tends to do away with some of the fundamental distinctions of our moral language," and the critic acknowledged that the essays take care to point out this important fact. Another laudatory assessment of the collection came from Michael J. Franklin in the Modern Language Review. Franklin stated that, despite a few flaws, "any paperback collection of essays by notable Mandeville scholars is nevertheless to be welcomed." The critic found much of value in Mandeville and Augustan Ideas, commenting: "In a thoughtful attempt to define the Mandevillean spin on orthodoxy, Prior underscores the limits to Mandeville's ‘freethinking.’" He concluded: "This is a well-edited and valuable volume, a significant contribution to Mandeville studies, and it can be said without irony that its production is a tribute to the considerable organizational and intellectual talents of Charles Prior."

Prior next wrote Defining the Jacobean Church: The Politics of Religious Controversy, 1603-1625, which was published in 2005. The book is a theological history that is lighter on the theology and heavier on the history in its attempts to place the Jacobean Church within its historical and political context. Michael Questier, assessing the book in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, noted that "the not unreasonable claim made by this book is that we should try to interpret and decipher the ecclesiological dynamics of the Jacobean Church by distancing ourselves, as far as we can, from narrow theological concerns." Commenting on Prior's treatment of the topic, Questier felt that "perhaps the most controversial aspect of Prior's text is the description of certain members of the Church of England as ‘reformist.’ This appears to be a way of dispensing with the term ‘Puritan.’" However, despite this minor criticism, Questier concluded: "One cannot but agree with the author that the leading conformist polemical texts of the period are crucial for trying to fashion an account of the way that contemporaries argued about the extent and relationship of temporal and spiritual authority as it affected the Church."

Another highly laudatory review of Defining the Jacobean Church came from Catherine Corder in the Canadian Journal of History. Corder reported that the author "goes far beyond the genealogy of ideas and includes a provocative examination of the discourse that both church and civil leaders used to articulate those ideas." She additionally called Defining the Jacobean Church "a well-written and researched book," adding that "Prior effectively demonstrates how the language of politics within religious discourse grew from the Elizabethan period to become the defining rhetoric of the Jacobean church." Following this assertion, Corder found that the book "makes an important contribution to the field, and I look forward to Prior's future study on how these debates manifested themselves in the crisis of the 1640s." Other compliments came from Nicholas Tyacke in Church History. Although Tyacke did have some reservations regarding Defining the Jacobean Church, he still found that "Prior has produced an interesting and useful work, filling in a picture that until now has only really existed in outline."



Canadian Journal of History, December 22, 2006, Catherine Corder, review of Defining the Jacobean Church: The Politics of Religious Controversy, 1603-1625, p. 549.

Church History, September 1, 2007, Nicholas Tyacke, review of Defining the Jacobean Church, p. 637.

English Historical Review, April 1, 2002, Dario Castiglione, review of Mandeville and Augustan Ideas: New Essays, p. 479.

Journal of British Studies, January 1, 2007, Brett F. Parker, review of Defining the Jacobean Church, p. 164.

Journal of Church and State, September 22, 2006, Andrew Fix, review of Defining the Jacobean Church, p. 889.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October 1, 2006, Michael Questier, review of Defining the Jacobean Church, p. 779.

Journal of Religion, April 1, 2007, Peter Iver Kaufman, review of Defining the Jacobean Church, p. 275.

Modern Language Review, January 1, 2003, Michael J. Franklin, review of Mandeville and Augustan Ideas, p. 186.

Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2006, review of Defining the Jacobean Church.

University of Toronto Quarterly, December 22, 2001, Martine Watson Brownley, review of Mandeville and Augustan Ideas, p. 231.


Charles W.A. Prior Home Page, (May 28, 2008).