The people of early modern Europe were well aware of Paul’s warning in 2 Cor 11:14 that Satan could transform himself into an angel of light. Protestants and Catholics alike, as they sought to discern true sanctity from false hypocrisy and divine miracles from demonic wonders, worried about the proximity of the demonic and the divine. The problem of Discernment of Spirits confronted mystics such as Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola, and preoccupied the scholastic Jean Gerson and the humanist Erasmus. Even if the terminology was Catholic, discernment posed a problem to Christians of all denominations.
This conference invites invites papers discussing discernment of spirits, possession, mysticism, and miracles – true and false – across the spectrum of early modern society and culture. Applications from doctoral students and early post-doctoral researchers are particularly welcome. It is our hope to make a number of bursaries available to defray the cost of travel within the UK. Proposals for papers of twenty-five minutes in length (250-300 words), together with a short biographical note, should be sent to one of the organisers: Jan Machielsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Clare Ashdowne (email@example.com) by no later than 15 February 2011.
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