Dean Swift: The Satirist and his Faith

A Symposium on Jonathan Swift and Christianity

Conducted at The Deanery of St. Patrick's, Upper Kevin Street, Dublin 8, on 19 October 2002, with Dr Robert Mahony in the Chair.


Anne Barbeau Gardiner (City University of New York)
'Swift and the Idea of the Primitive Church'
Prof. Gardiner, whose works on John Dyden include Ancient Faith and Modern Freedom (1998), is a leading authority on the religious struggles of the age as context for later 17th-century literature in English.

Michael DePorte (University of New Hampshire)
'Public Certainties, Private Doubt: Swift in and out of the Pulpit'
Prof. DePorte has been a prominent commentator on Swift since his Nightmares and Hobbyhorses: Swift, Sterne and Augustan Ideas of Madness appeared in 1974.

Ruth A. Herman (University of Hertfordshire)
'The Dean and the Dissenters'
Dr. Herman is a student of Swift's relationships with contemporary professionals: writers, politician and, clergy. Her book on Swift's friend Delarivier Manley, a leading woman writer of the early eighteenth century, will soon be published by the University of Delaware Press in the USA.

W. J. McCormack (Goldsmiths' College, University of London)
'Swift and "The Day of Judgment" '
Prof. McCormack's command of Ireland's literary history ranges inclusively from the seventeenth century to the present; he is the author of over a dozen books in this field, editor of as many more, and founder of the Jonathan Swift Summer School at Celbridge.

Brean S.Hammond (Professor of English Studies, University of Nottingham)
Dean Swift: The Satirist and his Faith - a Concluding Overview
Readers fresh to Guliver's Travels might imagine, on the basis of some of its episodes, that Swift was an apostle of religious toleration. This paper argues that all such episodes have, however, a sinister, darker side, much more consonant with Swift's non-fictional writings, in a range of which it is shown that Swift scarcely treated Dissenters, in particular, as Christians at all. What was the nature of his own fundamental commitment to Christianity? What relationship subtends between Swift's opinions on the politics of church and state, and his views on faith itself? This paper concludes by commenting on the difficulty for twenty-first century readers of Swift in approaching 'an undeniably great writer who stands in opposition to tenets of Christian faith, or to political inferences from them, that underlie democratic freedoms now held to be inalienable'.

The discussion, introduced as above, continued with participation by audience.

A reception followed, sponsored by Irish Academic Press to mark the publication of Jonathan Swift and the Church of Ireland, 1710-1724 by Christopher J. Fauske

Discourse during Evensong, Sunday October 20:

Dr Robert Mahony (Catholic University of America)
Swift and Sin
Prof. Mahony is author of Jonathan Swift: The Irish Identity (1995) and founder of the Center for Irish Studies at CUA.


Dr Robert Mahony has undertaken to make available e-mail addresses of authors to bona-fide scholarly enquirers, who should e-mail him at

We are adding links to other Swift sites, on a reciprocal basis, as we identify them.

For additional background relating to St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, see the cathedral website.

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(c) Copyright on the electronic versions of papers as published in these Proceedings is with Dr Bob Mahony and Dr Roy Johnston 2002; copyright on contents of papers remains with the authors, and possibly with their publishers if published eleswhere.