Seminaries of Identity: The Universities of Scotland and Ireland in the Age of British Revolution

Salvatore Cipriano, Fordham University


This dissertation examines Scotland's four universities—St. Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh—and Ireland's sole foundation—Trinity College, Dublin—during the age of British Revolution, c. 1625–1660, when civil war and rebellion plagued the British Isles. Scholarship on early modern higher education in the British Isles has focused mainly on intellectual developments in the century before the Enlightenment; such conclusions, however, tend to be exceedingly teleological in scope and overlook the universities' significant political and religious functions. This study employs the scholarly frameworks of state formation and confessionalization to argue that the Scottish and Irish universities emerged as contested spaces to mold political and religious conformity within each realm. Through a comparative analysis that situates the universities in their confessional and constitutional contexts, each chapter engages with aspects of the universities' utility to both central British authorities—the monarchy under Charles I and the republic under Oliver Cromwell—and those in Scotland and Ireland—the Covenanters and the New English, respectively—who resisted London's centralizing impulse. This dissertation underscores the contested role of the universities as strategic centers of identity formation, at once institutions that could refine collective identities predicated on distinctive confessional mores in early modern Ireland and Scotland and mechanisms that could engineer the expansion and centralization of the early modern British state.

Subject Area

European history|Education history|History

Recommended Citation

Cipriano, Salvatore, "Seminaries of Identity: The Universities of Scotland and Ireland in the Age of British Revolution" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10788630.