Why did the Reformation happen? This question has been answered in very different ways by Protestants, Catholics, and modern scholars. Less attention has been dedicated to another (and related) question: why did the Reformation occur in some German territories and in some European countries – but not in other territories with similar structures? This talk links the phenomenon of the Reformation to specifically Christian discourses about choice and to one particular socio-political setting: the cities.
From Cities to Princes Religious Choice in the Age of the ReformationThomas Maissen (University of Heidelberg / Director of the German Historical Institute Paris)
Distinguished Lecture Series: Trust and Credit, The Mercantile Culture of Risk in Renaissance ItalyNicholas Baker, Macquarie University - February 22, 2018
Renaissance Italy was a society in which the problems of how to trust and whom to trust presented perennial challenges; yet it also housed a vibrant, trans-continental, proto-capitalist economy that relied on trust for its functioning. This paper explores how Renaissance Italian merchants confronted and attempted to manage the problems of trust and the particular mercantile culture that resulted from this: a culture that blended apparently modernizing elements—such as probabilistic reasoning—with what appear to twenty-first-century eyes as irrational beliefs, religious faith, and ideas about personal standing. At its center lay new conceptions of time and the future, which provoked anxieties and offered possibilities in equal measure.
Distinguished Lecture Series: A Singular and Plural BeastJamie Kreiner, University of Georgia - February 8, 2018
In the early Middle Ages, the pig was a caricature for greed, dirt, and disorder (and not much has changed). And in other ways, too, Europeans in this period thought of this animal in the singular — as a coherent, uniform, and legible species. On the other hand, they knew that pigs very much existed in the plural, not only because there were herds of them almost everywhere, but also because these were creatures whose fleshy specificity mattered: as groups and even as individuals they were capable of responding to and altering their environments, including the human societies that only partially constrained them. This talk explores that contrapuntal history between "the pig" and "pigs" in early medieval Europe.