Fourteenth Annual REFORC Conference on Early Modern Christianity

The Fourteenth Annual REFORC Conference will take place May 22 – May 24, 2025, hosted by Central European University in Vienna.

Theme Plenary Speakers: Religion and Rebellion

The potential for rebellion has been inherent in Christianity from the beginning, if rebellion is not merely understood as violent uprising. Rebellion also means the creation of alternative communities in opposition to the prevailing power structures. This, after all, is how the Christian church came into being. Throughout history, Christian communities and movements actualized this rebellious potential, not only in the time of the Reformation. However, in the medieval period and beyond, the church itself constituted a dominant power, in cooperation or in conflict with secular authorities. 500 years ago, when the Peasant Wars broke out in the South German lands and elsewhere, its participants had manifest economic and legal interests but also desired a renewed communal Christianity.  Similar movements occurred in many towns and cities. A century earlier, the Bohemian Hussite reformers rebelled with comparable goals in mind, and many more examples could be named.

In its early days, the German Reformation presented itself as a colorful diversity of ecclesiological visions. Even Martin Luther’s closest followers in Wittenberg drafted the design of a “Christian City,” though Luther himself soon became a fierce opponent of such projects, including the revolutionary endeavors of his chief opponent Thomas Müntzer. Soon after, the Anabaptists fought for new conceptions of community, sometimes peacefully, sometimes with the sword, and later still the English “Puritan Revolution” opened a wide spectrum of alternative Christian community projects, ranging from armed revolt to uncompromising pacificism. In the meantime, generations of Renaissance innovators responded to the contentious religio-political landscape with utopian efforts to re-harmonize Christendom according to new findings in science or philosophy. Ultimately, the more radical designs were hardly able to prevail anywhere, although certain visions endured, and some groups managed to establish themselves in transatlantic exile and persist to this day. However, the political failure of rebellion does not make it irrelevant. Quite to the contrary. The current crisis of the established churches also means an opportunity to remember the rebellious resources of Christian theology as well as the history of alternative communal practice.

Papers and Panels

The organizers of the conference invite papers and panel proposals on the topic of Religion and Rebellion as understood in this broad sense. The focus hereby is on European Christianity in the late medieval and early modern times. However, contributions dealing with other periods or providing comparative perspectives on other religions are also welcome. Given that the religious rebellions came with new forms of propaganda, such as broadsheets, illustrated print publications, and campaign songs, we also invite contributions on the visual and musical dimension of religious rebellion. Furthermore, we invite contributions on the representation of late medieval and early modern religious rebellions in modern historiography, political identity discourses, and any forms of public display (memorials, exhibitions, museums, films etc.).

The conference is open to individual short paper presentations (20 minute presentations) and to thematic sessions of two or three short papers, focusing on all disciplines related to Early Modern Christianity, ca. 1400-1700, such as philosophy, law, history, theology, etc., independent of the theme of the plenary papers.

Panels and General Attendance

In case of a thematic session (panel) all panelists must register separately, indicating the panel in the registration form.

It is also possible to attend the conference without giving a paper. In that case, you can register for the conference via the registration form, indicating that you do not want to submit a short paper proposal.

Call for Papers and Registration

The call for papers and registration will open in the course of 2024.

Scientific Committee

Matthias Riedl, Central European University, Vienna
Martin Pjecha, Central European University, Vienna

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