Husker historian Amy Burnett has been named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The fellowship will allow her to pursue scholarship analyzing correspondence among European humanists, pastors and teachers during the Reformation.
Burnett, Paula and D.B. Varner University Professor of History, is one of only 175 Fellows, which were announced April 9. According to a news release from the Guggenheim Foundation, more than 3,000 applied. The fellowships are “intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”
The fellowship will last 12 months, beginning in January 2021. During the fellowship, Burnett will pursue her research and write a book, “The Religious Republic of Letters: Correspondence Networks in Reformation Germany.”
The Religious Republic of Letters represents a correspondence network of two dozen humanists, pastors and teachers in Switzerland and South Germany between 1510 and 1550.
“This network is the missing link between the earlier literary phase of the Republic of Letters and the broader ‘commonwealth of learning’ of the later sixteenth century,” she said.
She will use network analysis and visualization software on a relational database containing more than 14,000 letters from nearly 1,500 correspondents.
“I will examine the shape of the network as a whole and consider how humanist epistolography influenced the format of the letters,” Burnett said. “I will then analyze the contents under four headings: knowledge transfer, institutional reform, the expression of affect and the formation of identity.
“Bridging the artificial divide between humanism and the Reformation, my book will make clear how much religious and educational reform owed to Erasmian humanism.”
Burnett has received numerous previous awards for her research, which examines the role of print, preaching and education in transmitting and transforming religious ideas.
Her books, “Debating the Sacraments: Print and Authority in the Early Reformation,” and “Origins of the Eucharistic Controversy: A Study in the Circulation of Ideas” analyze how authors, editors, translators and printers shaped public debate in the early Reformation.
“Teaching the Reformation: Ministers and Their Message in Basel” won the Gerald Strauss Prize of the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Fulbright Scholar Program.