Sensing the Reformation: how media-historical narratives constrain the study of religious change

Source document: Religio. 2018, vol. 26, iss. 1, pp. [31]-48
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
The paper argues that media and sensory history can substantially enrich existing scholarship on the Reformation by adding an important material dimension to the study of the confessional conflicts of the period. It claims that the role of the shifting sensory economy in the process of fabricating new religious communities has not been adequately scrutinized so far, and that the study of media and the senses in the Reformation has long been shaped by media-historical narratives of "disenchantment" and "de-sensualization", which are themselves products of Protestant anti-Catholic rhetoric and strategies of self-representation. Some of the aspects of the relationship between the Reformation and sensory perception are illustrated on a case study from sixteenth-century Calvinist Geneva. A detailed description of the state of research on the topic is provided throughout the paper.