Event/SpeakerSymposium: Material Reformations: Towards a Material Culture of Protestantism
DateThursday, April 3, 2014
Time10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Place38 West 86th Street
Max Weber's classic construction of Protestantism in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904/1922) was as a form of group identity, homogenous across geographic distance, that joined individuals in a distinctive psychological orientation to the material world and which produced a culture that was essentially verbal and anti-material. Hostile to the sensual aspects of visual representation, it had at its heart simplicity, clarity and plainness, an asceticism that governed every aspect of life. Subsequent scholarship has complicated this monolithic notion of Protestant identity by concentrating on continuities as well as the ruptures with Catholic tradition as the relationships between the material and the spiritual were reconfigured; it has also drawn attention to the unevenness of religious change as well as the heterogeneous character of different Protestant communities across northern Europe.
The aim of this conference is to revisit questions of Protestant identity from the perspective of a specifically material history of the Reformation. It will examine Protestant attitudes to the material aspects of the ecclesiastical, civic and domestic spheres for the light they can shed on the changing nature of religious experience and on the broad social and cultural changes brought about by the Reformation. It will address themes of iconoclasm and the consequent new forms of public worship; the effects of evangelical beliefs upon the forms and materials of artistic productions; their effect upon the character and rituals of religious, civic and domestic life; upon public institutions and domestic spaces, personal possessions, habits of dress and adornment; and more broadly, the material dimensions of identifiably Protestant attitudes to the written word and the book, natural philosophy, ethics, and history.
Peter N. Miller
Dean and Professor, Bard Graduate Center
Bard Graduate Center
Session 1: Establishing Difference
Jeffrey Chipps Smith
Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin
“Peter Dell the Elder's Experiments in Early Lutheran Sculpture”
Birgit Ulricke Münch
Art History, University of Trier
“A Protestant Crisis of Visualization? Re-Establishing the Character of the Eucharist without a Real Presence”
History, University of Cambridge
“Treasure, Comportment and Confession at the Imperial Diet of 1530”
Session 2: Establishing Identity: The Community of Believers
Chief Curator, Scientific Instruments and History of Medicine, Weapons and Hunting Culture, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg
“Exhibiting 1517 in 2017: Choosing the Materials to Explain the Reformation in the 21st Century: A Report”
History, University of St Andrews
“Art and Identity in Lutheran Germany”
Curator, Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg
“‘The difference we shall know…’: The Use of Catholic Liturgical Vestments in Transylvanian Lutheran Churches: Contemporary Justifications and Material Evidence”
Session 3: Establishing Identity: The Individual and the Home
History, University of Birmingham
“Beyond Iconophobia: ‘Decorative’ Art and Protestant Visuality in Post-Reformation England”
Bard Graduate Center
“‘The world was all before them…’ Decoration, Identity and the Idea of Providence in the Protestant Home”
This event is supported by a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
RSVP is required. Please click on the registration link at the bottom of this page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLEASE NOTE that our Lecture Hall can only accommodate a limited number of people, so please come early if you would like to have a seat in the main room. Registrants who arrive late may be seated in an overflow viewing area.
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Academic Programs, Symposia