Mediating Religious Cultures in Early Modern Europe

Mediating Religious Cultures in Early Modern Europe

English | ISBN: 1443852554 | 2013 | 304 Pages | PDF | 9 MB

In recent years, writing on early-modern culture has turned from examining the upheavals of the Reformation as the ruptured birth of early modernity out of the late medieval towards a striking emphasis on processes of continuity, transition, and adaptation. No longer is the 'religious' seen as institutional or doctrinaire, but rather as a cultural and social phenomenon that exceeds the rigid parameters of modern definition. Recent analyses of early-modern cultures offer nuanced accounts that move beyond the limits of traditional historiography, and even the bounds of religious studies. At their centre is recognition that the scope of the religious can never be extricated from early-modern culture. Despite its many conflicts and tensions, the lingua franca for cultural self-understanding of the early-modern period remains ineluctably religious. The early-modern world wrestled with the radical challenges concerning the nature of belief within the confines of church or worship, but also beyond them. This process of negotiation was complex and fuelled European social dynamics. Without religion we cannot begin to comprehend the myriad facets of early-modern life, from markets, to new forms of art, to public and private associations. In discussions of images, the Eucharist, suicide, music, street lighting, or whether or not the sensible natural world represented an otherworldly divine, religion was the fundamental preoccupation of the age. Yet, even in contexts where unbelief might be considered, we find the religious providing the fundamental terminology for explicating the secular theories and views which sought to undermine it as a valid aspect of human life. This collection of essays takes up these themes in diverse ways. We move from the 15th century to the 18th, from the core problem of sacramental mediation of the divine within the strict parameters of eucharistic and devotional life, through discussion of images and iconoclasm, music and word, to more blurred contexts of death, street life, and atheism. Throughout the early-modern period, the very processes of adaption - even change itself - were framed by religious concepts and conceits.

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