Andrew Taber completed an MA degree with Prof. Gary Waite at UNB-Fredericton. His interests before attending UNB were rooted firmly in military history and the role of the Dutch in the historiography of the early modern military revolution, but his work under Gary Waite and the Amsterdamnified Project has kindled an interest in the interchange occurring between the Dutch Republic and England during the 17th century. His MA thesis is entitled “‘You May Be What Devil You Will’: Depictions of Dutch Religious Plurality in English Print, 1609-1699”. An abstract of the thesis is available at the University of New Brunswick website. Click here for details.
John Raimondo has an MA in History from Brock U, where he studied with with Prof. John Bonnett. In his major research project he explored the potential of a deep-map narrative as an innovative genre for the expression of historical data. By looking at the ways deep maps can be created and conceived in augmented and virtual reality, John hopes to demonstrate to historians their value beyond the deep maps constructed to-date using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He created a virtual deep map of the National Historic Willowbank Estate in Queenston, Ontario, Canada. The Brock News featured his project in an article from August 2017. His research interests include digital history, deep maps, spatial narratives and architecture. He is currently working in the Niagara Region as a freelance writer and researcher.
For the Amsterdamnified Project he worked with Matt Milner and Mike Driedger to make a list of Baruch Spinoza’s contacts for use in NanoHistory. The list is based on the data from https://spinozaweb.org/, which John supplemented with information from printed scholarship.
Gary Waite is a prolific, internationally known scholar and author/editor of seven books and over fifty scholarly articles and chapters. He began his research in the Protestant Reformation, and especially its radical variants (Anabaptism and spiritualism), and his subsequent research projects have revealed the interconnectedness of fields typically studied in isolation. He has published not only in the history of religion and religious reform, but also in Dutch literature and drama, demonology, magic and witchcraft, and on Jews and Muslims in the early modern world. Building on his award winning dissertation and then monograph on the Anabaptist career of the Dutch artist and lay religious leader David Joris (c.1501-1556), Waite remains the acknowledged international expert on this controversial individual. Waite has since become interested in Joris’s later spiritualistic career and the reception of his controversial ideas, such as his depreciation of institutional religion or of a literal devil. Branching out from this work, Waite in 1988 embarked on his first SSHRC supported research on the Chambers of Rhetoric, the Netherlands’ influential amateur literary and drama societies, especially in how they adapted and then propagated reform ideas during the first half of the 16th century. Requiring broad reading in the field of drama studies, extensive archival research and the analysis of over 50 early-modern Dutch scripts, Reformers on Stage was the first English-language monograph on these influential dramatists which one reviewer, the specialist Peter Arnade, noted “does double duty as a valuable synthesis and fresh interpretation” that is “of exceptional value to Low Country historians, historians of the urban Reformation, and scholars of popular culture and theatre studies” (Sixteenth Century Journal 33 , 919-20). Waite has subsequently published two chapters elaborating on specific themes from this research, the more recent, “Rhetoricians and Religious Compromise during the Early Reformation (c.1520-1555),” (in Urban Theatre in the Low Countries, 1400-1625, eds. Peter Happé and Elsa Strietman, 2006, 79-102), emphasized the confluence of spiritualistic ideas and urbanites’ desires for prosperity and peace in the unusual drama of the Rhetoricians.
Waite’s subsequent research program (SSHRC, 1993-96) successfully brought together the fields of the Reformation and the witch hunts. With two books and no fewer than fourteen scholarly articles and chapters, Waite is now the acknowledged expert on this subject. Situated at the intersection of popular and learned elite cultures, Waite’s Eradicating the Devil’s Minions (2007/09) compares the persecution of 16th-century Anabaptist heretics with that of witches in early modern Europe. Demonizing propaganda against and persecution of real Anabaptists fed fears of other imagined diabolical conspiracies, although Waite explains why the Dutch Republic was an anomaly due to its unique policy regarding religious conformity. In subsequent publications (most recently his “Sixteenth Century Religious Reform and the Witch-Hunts,” in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America, ed. Brian Levack, 2013), Waite has explained the puzzle of the gender difference between the two sets of accused, as most arrested Anabaptists were men while witches were predominately women. With this project Waite extended his chronological expertise well into the 17th century on the subjects of demonology, magic and witchcraft, and he is well able to conduct the research on the reception of spiritualistic demonology that is part of this research program.
In 2006 Waite embarked upon his third SSHRC funded project on “The Religious Other in Seventeenth-Century Europe” exploring vernacular publications and governmental records by Flemish, Dutch and English writers relating to Jews and Muslims in the 17th century. He has completed this research, presented nine papers and published seven referred articles/chapters, and aims to finish the monograph during his sabbatical in 2014-2015. In this study Waite discerns important differences in tone and content among the three regions, revealing that the distinctiveness of the Dutch related to their rejection of enforced religious conformity within their borders that then affected how they regarded non-Christians, and this, he argues, was related to the confluence of artisanal and merchant priorities, urban culture and spiritualistic currents flowing through the realm.
Mike Driedger is a widely acknowledged expert on European Anabaptists and Mennonites from the 16th to the early 19th centuries. His revised and published dissertation on the Mennonite minority in Lutheran-dominated Hamburg in the 17th century (Obedient Heretics) was short-listed for the 2003 Wallace K. Ferguson Book Prize of the Canadian Historical Association. After establishing his teaching career, he worked in the late 2000s on several projects that resulted in numerous essays, including several overviews of Anabaptist and dissenter historiography for audiences of early modern historians and students, as well as two longer texts: 1) a co-authored book that provides an important reinterpretation of Anabaptist rule in the early 16th-century city of Münster (a case study that is often cited – even in contemporary terrorism studies – but is understood poorly by Reformation historians and most other commentators alike); and 2) a co-edited essay collection featuring the latest in scholarship on early modern Anabaptism. In recent years his research project on the important and even leading (but now largely forgotten) role that many Mennonites played in the Dutch high Enlightenment and Dutch revolutionary activity of the 1780s and 1790s has won him funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (2007) and the SSHRC (“Mennonite revolutionaries: religion, enlightenment and radical politics in early modern Holland,” 2010-2013). He has recently presented at conferences in Amsterdam, Groningen, London, Jerusalem, and Utrecht.
For the “Amsterdamnified!” project Driedger will play several roles. First, as the project’s expert on both Mennonites and the later Enlightenment, he will provide a broadening and long-term perspective. Secondly, for his research on his most recent SSHRC project on Mennonite revolutionaries Driedger developed significant knowledge and skills in tracking intellectual, business and family networks in the early modern Dutch Republic, and he has published several essays and presented numerous papers on Mennonite associational activities in the 17th and 18th centuries. He has already done significant preliminary research on late 16th-century and 17th-century Dutch dissident publishers, ground-work that will help the new collaborative research project get off to a quick start. Thirdly, he has published several articles/book chapters that examine the entanglements and structural parallels between early modern Jews and Mennonites. This work includes an essay on Collegiant-Mennonites in Spinoza’s immediate circle in the 17th century. Finally, he has spent considerable time in the last three years developing skills for the use of digital analytical and visualization tools (e.g., tools for text analysis, timeline construction, spatial and network mapping, genealogical charting). As part of this work he has developed a Dutch “stop-word” list that includes early modern Dutch spelling word variants; this tool will make possible the keyword analysis and visualization of key digitalized texts. Driedger will coordinate the database and online components of the project.
Ruben Buys is quickly establishing himself as an innovative scholar whose ground-breaking research on urban culture and vernacular knowledge-creation provides a theoretical structure for this research program, epitomized in his published dissertation, De kunst van het weldenken (The Art of Thinking Right) of 2009. He has also made important contributions to the influence of 16th-century spiritualists, such as Coornhert, upon Enlightenment approaches to reason and scriptural interpretation. His current research is focused on urban culture in the Low Countries in the first half of the 16th century, but this will continue to inform our analysis of the later sources.
Kelsey Bodechon is an undergraduate student at the University of New Brunswick completing her degree with a Joint Honours in History and Anthropology and a Minor in Classical Studies. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in Museum Studies with the hope of working as a curator in the future. Her main academic interests include Early Modern British history and archaeology, with a particular fascination with artifacts. Her current position is a research assistant for principal investigator Dr. Gary Waite.