Event/Speaker

Symposium: Material Reformations: Towards a Material Culture of Protestantism

Date

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time

10:00 am – 5:30 pm

Place

38 West 86th Street

212.501.3019, academicevents@bgc.bard.edu

Description

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.

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.  
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”
Ulinka Rublack
History, University of Cambridge
“Treasure, Comportment and Confession at the Imperial Diet of 1530”
Session 2: Establishing Identity: The Community of Believers  
Thomas Eser
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”
Bridget Heal
History, University of St Andrews
“Art and Identity in Lutheran Germany”
Evelin Wetter
Curator, Abegg-Stiftung, Ch-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
Tara Hamling
History, University of Birmingham
“Beyond Iconophobia: ‘Decorative’ Art and Protestant Visuality in Post-Reformation England”
Andrew Morrall
Bard Graduate Center

“’The world was all before them…’ Decoration, Identity and the Idea of Providence in the Protestant Home”

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.

10am

 

Peter N. Miller

Dean and Professor, Bard Graduate Center

“Welcome”

 

Andrew Morrall

Bard Graduate Center

“Introduction”

 

10:15am

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”

Ulinka Rublack
History, University of Cambridge
“Treasure, Comportment and Confession at the Imperial Diet of 1530”

12pm

 

Lunch Break

 

1:30pm

 

Session 2: Establishing Identity: The Community of Believers  

Thomas Eser
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”

Bridget Heal
History, University of St Andrews
“Art and Identity in Lutheran Germany”

Evelin Wetter
Curator, Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg
“‘The difference we shall know…’: The Use of Catholic Liturgical Vestments in Transylvanian Lutheran Churches: Contemporary Justifications and Material Evidence”

3:15pm

 

Coffee Break

 

3:30pm

 

Session 3: Establishing Identity: The Individual and the Home

Tara Hamling
History, University of Birmingham
“Beyond Iconophobia: ‘Decorative’ Art and Protestant Visuality in Post-Reformation England”

Andrew Morrall
Bard Graduate Center
“‘The world was all before them…’ Decoration, Identity and the Idea of Providence in the Protestant Home”

Concluding Discussion

 

5pm

 

Reception


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 academicevents@bgc.bard.edu.

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.

To live-stream this and other special academic events at BGC, please visit BGCTV, our online live-streaming channel.

To join the discussion remotely via Twitter, either with questions or comments, please use the Twitter hastag #BardGradCenterTV. During the lecture, the faculty convener will review this feed and ask the speaker questions drawn from Twitter.


Academic Programs, Symposia