For the next German Studies Association Annual Conference (Pittsburg, PA, Sept 28-Oct 1, 2006), the division "Medieval, Early Modern, and Eighteenth Century" seeks to build a series of sessions clustered around the theme: "Radical Enlightenment." Under this heading, I would like to submit a panel on Religion as a Medium for Progressive Social Change in the Early Modern Period and Eighteenth Century.
It is often assumed that religion is a conservative force in society, especially in Germany, with its history of state power and a state church, that have usually gone hand-in-hand. Yet religion has also served as a medium for challenging the status quo. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Pietists and other ‘radicals’ took up positions that were often more progressive than those of the (mostly male, elite) ‘Enlighteners.’
Papers could, for example, address the ways in which such religionists advocated women’s rights, the rights of peasants or of religious or ethnic minorities. Papers might address religionists efforts in the realms of education, economy or politics or even radical religious experiments with alternate family structures. Which democratic impulses came from religious quarters? Which issues, that today might fall under the rubric ‘human rights,’ were taken up by religious activists?
Paper proposals should be approximately 2 pages long and should be sent to me by e-mail by February 8, 2006. Please type ‘Religion and Social Change’ in the subject line.
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