The conference “Religious deviance in the Reformational and Confessional Age” looks at practices of labeling and other methods of dealing with religious deviance from 1500 to and 1700. Previous research has focused on questions of religious identity, multi- or interconfessionality and the social practices of persecuted groups. However, issues concerning the attributing and labeling of religious deviance and the practical implications thereof have been widely neglected. This conference aims at bring these aspects into sharper focus.
Under the concept of deviance, we understand two linked notions: religious or confessional heterodoxy, and moral (e.g. sexual) conduct that could be regarded as unchristian or godless. The relationship between the two types of deviance is crucial to understand contemporary attitudes; the comparing and contrasting these concepts raises questions of interconfessional parallels and differences in the handling of religious deviance, and its processes of construction, stigmatization and sanction. We hope to question the idea of the corpus christianum as a unified body of belief and moral strictures, by examining alternative frameworks operative in early modern societies and (civic) communities.
The basic assumption, that deviance is best understood as a relative concept, allows for the analysis of different levels of norms and actors (including both norm givers and norm followers). This approach also takes into account the associations between construction of deviance and norms, norm-giving authorities and related social groups. This includes arguments and figures of speech that explain or justify the punishing and persecution of religious deviance (e.g. the ‚wrath of god‘). Further, apart from the practices and processes of labeling by others, the conference wants to shed light on the self-image of the so-called ‘deviant’. Here, we are interested in how groups or individuals positively appropriated pejorative or stigmatizing labels. What effect for example did the pressure of social conformity have on the self-willed (the “Eigensinnigen”) in an environment of confessional heterogeneity (dissimulation, indifference, conversion)?
As the example of the different affiliations of the Anabaptists reveal, those described as deviant could not only reject the label but turn it on its head by claiming that the larger environment dissented from Christian ideals and norms. By presenting a range of papers on these issues, we hope to bring out the multi-dimensional nature of religious deviance.
We invite contributions focusing on the various forms of religiously labeled deviance – in a wide range from heresy and blasphemy, tumult, moral offences and magic, to domestic disorder or alcoholism – based on case studies or comparative works on towns, cities or territories. Relevant papers from the disciplines of political history, history of law, art history or literary history are also welcome.
The conference will be held at Technical University of Dresden from March 8-10, 2012 organized by the Collaborative Research Centre 804 “Transcendence and Common Sense” and its research project “Gottlosigkeit und Eigensinn. Religiöse Devianz in der Frühen Neuzeit” under the direction of Prof. Dr. Gerd Schwerhoff.
As an application, please send a short abstract (about 300 words) in English or German and a brief description of your academic career to Eric Piltz (Eric.Piltz@tu-dresden.de) by June 10, 2011.
Prof. Dr. Gerd Schwerhoff
Collaborative Research Centre 804
"Transcendence and Common Sense"
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