This essay is a rebuttal to Debora Shuger’s 2008 essay, “The Reformation of Penance,” in which she takes aim at revisionist Reformation scholarship, and in particular at James Simpson’s Reform and Cultural Revolution, published in 2002, as exemplary of the error of the revisionists with regard to penance. Her larger charge against the revisionists is that they tend to offer a history of “loss,” and that they have introduced “polemical distortion” into Reformation scholarship that had been free of that for fifty or so years. This essay challenges Shuger’s scholarly procedure as well as her substantive arguments. The larger aim of the essay is to establish ground rules for engagement in the rapidly developing field of Trans-Reformation cultural studies.

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