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Title:Sensory perception, religious ritual, and reformation in Germany, 1428-1564
Author(s):Baum, Jacob
Director of Research:Koslofsky, Craig M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Koslofsky, Craig M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Symes, Carol L.; McLaughlin, Megan; Heal, Bridget
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Protestant Reformation
Early Modern Germany
Late Medieval Germany
Abstract:This dissertation analyzes religious ritual in fifteenth and sixteenth century Germany. It argues that the history of ritual behavior in this period discloses what can be described as a cultural ‘reformation of the senses.’ Previous histories of religious behavior in this period have approached their subject through the lens of discourse analysis or visual culture. By contrast, this dissertation outlines a phenomenological approach which attends to the dynamic relationships between ritual practice and all five senses. This dissertation shows that in the fifteenth century, rituals of traditional Christianity explicitly appealed to all five senses, building on understandings of perception drawn from late medieval philosophy and everyday practices. The early Protestant Reformation in sixteenth century Germany re-formulated this paradigm by shifting emphasis to the role of vision and hearing in normative ritual practice. While understandings and uses of the senses in the sixteenth century demonstrate many continuities with the fifteenth century in the quotidian realm, the senses of smell, taste and touch were excluded from religious practice, or de-sacralized. This dissertation demonstrates this argument using a variety of source materials. Manuscript and printed prayer books, material culture, images, ego-documents, personal estate inventories, and church inventories demonstrate the sensory diversity of religious practice in late medieval and early modern Germany. Church ordinances, sermons, ecclesiastical visitation reports, court cases, and polemical treatises highlight the continuities and ruptures in the normative practice of religion during this period. This dissertation contributes principally to two fields of study: 1) the historical study of the Protestant Reformation, with emphasis on its origins in the fifteenth century; 2)the historical study of sensory perception in Western European culture, which to date has largely overlooked the German Reformation as a period of significant change.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Jacob M. Baum
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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