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Christopher Dawson

Christopher Henry Dawson FBA (12 October 1889, Hay Castle – 25 May 1970, Budleigh Salterton) was a British independent scholar, who wrote many books on cultural history and Christendom. Dawson has been called "the greatest English-speaking Catholic historian of the twentieth century".[1] The 1988–1989 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.

Christopher Dawson

Born12 October 1889
DiedMay 25, 1970(1970-05-25) (aged 80)
OccupationHistorian

LifeEdit

Dawson was born into family deep roots in the English gentry as the only son of Lt. Colonel H.P. Dawson and Mary Louisa, eldest daughter of Archdeacon Bevan, Hay Castle.[2] He was brought up at Hartlington Hall, Yorkshire. He was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Oxford. He obtained 2nd class honours in Modern History at Oxford in 1911.[3] After his degree he studied economics. He also read the work of the German theologian Ernst Troeltsch. His background was Anglo-Catholic but he became a Roman Catholic convert in 1914. In 1916 Dawson married Valery Mills, youngest daughter of the architect Walter Edward Mills. They had two daughters and one son.

WritingEdit

As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.

— C.H. Dawson

He began publishing articles in The Sociological Review, in 1920. His starting point was close to that of Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee, others who were also interested in grand narratives conducted at the level of a civilisation. His first book, The Age of the Gods (1928), was apparently intended as the first of a set of five to trace European civilisation to the twentieth century, but the schematic plan was not followed to a conclusion.

His general point of view is as a proponent of an 'Old West' theory, the later term of David Gress, who cites Dawson in his From Plato to Nato (1998). That is, Dawson rejected the blanket assumption that the Middle Ages in Europe failed to contribute any essential characteristics. He argued that the medieval Catholic Church was an essential factor in the rise of European civilisation, and wrote extensively in support of that thesis.

CareerEdit

Dawson was considered a leading Catholic historian. He was a Lecturer in the History of Culture, University College, Exeter (1930–6), Forwood Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion, University of Liverpool (1934), Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh (1947 and 1948), and Chauncey Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Studies at Harvard University (1958–62). He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1943.[4]

From 1940 for a period he was editor of the Dublin Review.

InfluenceEdit

His writings in the 1920s and 1930s made him a significant figure of the time, and an influence in particular on T. S. Eliot, who wrote of his importance. He was on the fringe of 'The Moot', a discussion group involving Eliot, John Baillie, Karl Mannheim, Walter Moberly, Michael Polanyi, Marjorie Reeves, Bernard Lonergan and Alec Vidler;[5] and also the Sword of the Spirit ecumenical group. According to Bradley Birzer, Dawson also influenced the theological underpinnings of J. R. R. Tolkien's writings.[6] Russell Kirk was another who greatly admired Dawson, although the two men never met.

His works continue to inform the curricula of Catholic institutions. The topical approach outlined by Dawson for the study of Christian culture forms the core of the Catholic Studies program at Aquinas College. His work was influential in the founding of Campion College in NSW, Australia, and in the formation in 2012 of The Christopher Dawson Society for Philosophy and Culture Inc. in Perth, Western Australia. Dawson's vision also outlines the Humanities and Catholic Culture program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Comparable historiansEdit

As a revivalist of the Christian historian, Christopher Dawson has been compared with Kenneth Scott Latourette and Herbert Butterfield.[7] Comparisons have also been made between the work of Dawson and German sociologist and historian Max Weber. Both employ a metahistorical approach to their subjects, and their subjects themselves bear similarities; namely, the influence of religion on aspects of western culture.[8]

WorksEdit

BooksEdit

  • The Age of Gods (1928). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2012)[9]
  • Progress and Religion: An Historical Inquiry (1929). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2001)[10]
  • Christianity and the New Age (1931)[11][12]
  • The Making of Europe: An Introduction to the History of European Unity. London: Sheed and Ward, 1932. Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press, 2003.[13][14][15]
  • The Spirit of the Oxford Movement (1933)[16][17]
  • Enquiries into Religion and Culture (1933). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2009)[18]
  • Medieval Religion and Other Essays (1935)[19]
  • Religion and the Modern State (1936)[20]
  • Beyond Politics (1939)[21]
  • The Claims of Politics (1939)
  • The Judgment of the Nations (1942). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2011)[22]
  • Gifford Lectures 1947–49
    • Religion and Culture (1948) ISBN 0-404-60498-6
    • Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (1950) ISBN 0-385-42110-9
  • Understanding Europe (1952). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2009)[23]
  • Medieval Essays (1954). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2002)[24]
  • The Mongol Mission: Narratives and Letters of the Franciscan Missionaries in Mongolia and China in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (1955). Republished in 1966 as Mission to Asia.[25]
  • Dynamics of World History (1957).[26] Edited by John J. Mulloy et al. Reissued by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (2002).[27]
  • The Movement of World Revolution (1959)[28]
  • Progress and Religion: An Historical Enquiry (1960) with others Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2001)
  • The Historic Reality of Christian Culture (1960)[29]
  • The Crisis of Western Education: With Specific Programs for the Study of Christian Culture (1961). Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (2010)[30]
  • The Dividing of Christendom (1965)[31]
  • The Formation of Christendom (1967)[32]
  • The Gods of Revolution (1972)[33]
  • Religion and World History: A Selection from the Works of Christopher Dawson (1975)[34]
  • Christianity and European Culture: Selections from the Work of Christopher Dawson edited by Gerald J. Russello Reissued by the Catholic University of America Press (1998)[35]

Selected articlesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Full text of "Christianity and Culture: Selections from the Writings of Christopher Dawson (updated 10/08, PDF)"". archive.org. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  2. ^ http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-72/modern-pioneers-christopher-dawson.html
  3. ^ Oxford University Calendar 1913, p. 192.
  4. ^ Who Was Who, 1961–70, London : A. & C. Black, 1972, p.287.
  5. ^ Reeves, Marjorie (editor). Christian Thinking and Social Order: Conviction Politics from the 1930s to the Present Day, p. 25, Cassell, 1999.
  6. ^ Birzer, Bradley J.Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth, p. 136, ISI Books, 2003.
  7. ^ Speck, W. A. "Herbert Butterfield: The Legacy of a Christian Historian." In A Christian View of History?, George Marsden, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975, p.100.
  8. ^ Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the "Spirit" of Capitalism, and Other Writings. Penguin Books, 2002, p. xx.
  9. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 2012). The Age of the Gods. Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 9780813219776.
  10. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 2001). Progress and Religion: An Historical Inquiry (The Works of Christopher Dawson). CUA Press. ISBN 9780813210155.
  11. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1931). Christianity and the new age. Sheed & Ward.
  12. ^ Hittinger, Russell. "The Failure of Liberal Humanism," Modern Age, June 1989.
  13. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1952). The making of Europe;an introduction to the history of European unity,. New York.
  14. ^ "Making of Europe". archive.org. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  15. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1932). The Making of Europe: An Introduction to the History of European Unity. CUA Press. ISBN 9780813210834.
  16. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1934). The spirit of the Oxford movement (1st ed.). Sheed & Ward.
  17. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1934). The Spirit of the Oxford Movement. AMS Press. ISBN 9780404140250.
  18. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Royal, Robert (1 January 2009). Enquiries Into Religion and Culture (The Works of Christopher Dawson). CUA Press. ISBN 9780813215433.
  19. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1935). Medieval Religion and Other Essays. Sheed & Ward.
  20. ^ "Religion and the Modern State by Christopher Dawson, 1935 - Online Research Library: Questia". www.questia.com. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  21. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1941). Beyond Politics. Sheed & Ward.
  22. ^ Dawson, Christopher (28 November 2011). The Judgment of the Nations. CUA Press. ISBN 9780813218809.
  23. ^ Dawson, Christopher (23 December 2008). Understanding Europe (The Works of Christopher Dawson). CUA Press. ISBN 9780813215440.
  24. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1954). Medieval Essays (The Works of Christopher Dawson). CUA Press. ISBN 9780813210179.
  25. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1955). The Mongol Mission: Narratives and Letters of the Franciscan Missionaries in Mongolia and China in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries. AMS Press. ISBN 9780404170080.
  26. ^ "The Dynamics Of World History". archive.org. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  27. ^ Royal, Robert. "Dawson's History: Resurrecting the Work of Christopher Dawson," Archived 27 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine The Weekly Standard, Vol. VIII, N°. 26, 17 March 2003.
  28. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1959). The movement of world revolution. Sheed & Ward.
  29. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1960). The Historic Reality of Christian Culture: A Way to the Renewal of Human Life. Harper.
  30. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 2010). The Crisis of Western Education (The Works of Christopher Dawson). CUA Press. ISBN 9780813216836.
  31. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1967). The Dividing of Christendom. Image Books.
  32. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 2008). The Formation of Christendom. Ignatius Press. ISBN 9781586172398.
  33. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1972). The gods of revolution. Sidgwick & Jackson.
  34. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1 January 1975). Religion and World History: A Selection from the Works of Christopher Dawson. Image Books. ISBN 9780385095518.
  35. ^ "Full text of "Christianity and Culture: Selections from the Writings of Christopher Dawson (updated 10/08, PDF)"". archive.org. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  36. ^ Stork, Thomas. "Catholics and the Bourgeois Mind," The Distributist Review, 31 December 2012.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit