Uncovering John Beale Bordley’s “Friendly Dialogue” (69835)

Session Information: Interdisciplinary Language, Literature & Arts
Session Chair: Mykyta Isagulov

Saturday, 27 May 2023 12:40
Session: Session 2
Room: Room 703
Presentation Type:Oral Presentation

This paper is part of a larger project (funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant) on the life and thought of the overlooked American Founder, John Beale Bordley (1727-1804). It follows on the presenter’s study of Bordley’s first pamphlet, "Necessaries" (1776), recently published by the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia, 2021).

My proposed paper will unpack the case for attributing to Bordley the editing of (and authoring of front- and back-matter for) a rare religious booklet entitled "A Friendly Dialogue, between a Scripturian and an Athanasian" (Philadelphia, 1785). On the surface of things, such an attribution seems most unlikely. Bordley published much, but he rarely touched on religious themes in anything else that we know he wrote. But, looking more closely reveals a different story. The case for Bordley’s editorship will be constructed from textual and contextual evidence, including marginalia uncovered in one of the few surviving copies of "A Friendly Dialogue", a volume held in the Rare Books collections of the Boston Public Library.

My investigation aims to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that John Beale Bordley was the editor of "A Friendly Dialogue". And, setting out to solve the mystery of the pamphlet’s American editorship casts light on much else besides Bordley and his work. It illuminates eighteenth-century publishing networks, in Philadelphia and London, revealing an intriguing trans-Atlantic story encompassing Enlightenment religious thought in America and Britain at the close of the eighteenth century.

Mark Spencer, Brock University, Canada

About the Presenter(s)
Professor Mark Spencer is a University Professor/Principal Lecturer at Brock University in Canada

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00