Lecture Four: Generations and Seed

Taking issue with the thesis that generational consciousness is essentially a product of more recent modernity, this lecture contends that a consciousness of being part of an historical or chosen generation was one of the byproducts of the English Reformation. It examines the implications of the pervasiveness of the biblical language of generations and seed in early modern thinking and probes what this reveals about senses of group identity derived from a shared location in time. It investigates the various ways in which religious change engendered senses of belonging to a particular cohort of people bound by common experience and how it altered how people understood their relationships with past and future generations. It also examines the pressing questions that devout people from all denominations faced about the spiritual fate of their dead relatives and about how to ensure the salvation of their children and heirs.