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16312 : Reforming Religious Media: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation

Description: The Protestant Reformation began with a carefully orchestrated media event, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg. Concurrently, he resorted to the still new medium of print to disseminate more widely his scathing critique of the Catholic Church's use of indulgences to communicate God's grace. This was only the beginning of Luther's sweeping attack on the Church's role as the sole mediator of salvation. No religious medium or communicational practice remained unquestioned, resulting in their comprehensive reform. Soon other reformers joined in, pushing the critique even further by questioning the need and validity of all religious mediation. Approaching the Protestant Reformation as a reform of religious media, this lecture course will give particular attention to the congenial alliance between Martin Luther's religious message and the emerging technology of the printing press, the role of Scripture in legitimating Protestant theologies of communication, controversies around particular religious media, like images or the eucharist, and the role of direct inspiration in radical reformers. This research course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. The course will culminate in an exhibition at the Special Collections Research Center of Regenstein Library, which will first take the form of a virtual web exhibit and then an actual, physical exhibition in the Winter Quarter 2020. All students will contribute to the web exhibition

Instructor(s): Christopher Wild

Offered: Spring 2019

Category: History