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CFH at the AHA 2000

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The CFH convenedon Saturday, January 8, at the Chicago Marriott

for its annual session in conjunction withthe AHA. Following a continental

breakfast, the membersheard Mark Noll's (Wheaton College) paper,

"George Rawlyk's Contribution to CanadianHistory as a Contribution to

U.S. History." Noll characterized Rawlyk's work as deeply influential in

Canadian historiography, particularly his effort to illuminatethe cultural,

political, and socio-economic dimensions of life inthe Atlantic Provinces. Noll

argued that his work on a "marginal" geographical region paralleled hiseffort

to integrate previously marginalizedevangelical movements into the study

of 18th and 19th century Canadian affairs. To Noll, Rawlykfueled the current

spate of work in Canadian evangelicalism, and fixed religion asa chief engine

of social and political change in Canadian history.

He recommendedthe use of Rawlyk's work as a comparative device,

especially for historians of American religious, political,and social

movements. The lack of a Canadian revolutionary movement in the 18th

century, and the lack of aserious fundamentalist/modernist controversy in

20th century Canada were cited asfocal points of comparison. Noll also

acknowledged several dimensions ofRawlyk's work that may hamper

comparative work, namely his neglect of the 19thcentury, his fixation on the

Baptist leader Henry Alline, and his supposed "superficial" use of social

theory, but added that these elements did not fatally undermine the use of his

work for historians of diasporic Anglo societies in North American,African,

and Pacific regions.

In the discussion component of the session, theCFH members pushed

at the questionof "internationalizing" research into different strains of

evangelicalism. Noll observed thathistorians of Baptist movements are

beginning toproduce sophisticated histories of their movement to equal the

work on Methodists, and together these monographswill engender deeper

and more insightful interpretations of not only theCanadian and American

past, but alsothe experience of migrant groups across national and

geographic boundaries.

Jeffrey B. Webb