Under the combined effects of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations within and pressure from the Ottoman Empire without, early modern Europe became a site in which an unprecedented number of people were confronted by new beliefs, and collective and individual religious identities were broken down and reconfigured. Conversions: gender and religious change in early modern Europe is the first collection to explicitly address the intersections between sexed identity and religious change in the two centuries following the Reformation. The varied and wide-ranging chapters in this collection bring the Renaissance 'turn of the soul' into productive conversation with the three most influential ‘turns’ of recent literary, historical, and art historical study: the ‘turn to religion’, the ‘material turn’, and the ‘gender turn’. Contributors consider masculine as well as feminine identity, and consider the impact of travel, printing, and the built environment alongside questions of genre, race and economics. Of interest to scholars of early modern history, literature, and architectural history, this collection will appeal to anyone interested in the vexed history of religious change, and the transformations of gendered selfhood. Bringing together leading scholars from across the disciplines of literary study, history and art history, Conversions: gender and religious change offers novel insights into the varied experiences of, and responses to, conversion across and beyond Europe. A lively Afterword by Professor Matthew Dimmock (University of Sussex) drives home the contemporary urgency of these themes, and the lasting legacies of the Reformations.
Conversion: Turning towards
a radiant ideal
Love as a mediating and unifying power between neoliberal eros and
The interests of rulers require that their subjects should be poor in spirit, and
that there should be no strong bond of friendship or society among them, and
love, above all other motives, is likely to inspire this, as our Athenian tyrants
learned by experience, for love . . . had a strength that undid their power. (Plato,
1892: Symposium, 10)
In a post-Catholic, materialist, secular-cynical Ireland, if we are interested
Freethinking feminists and the renunciation of religion
In 1842, Emma Martin published a tract
entitled A Few Reasons for Renouncing Christianity and Professing and
Disseminating Infidel Opinions, in which she described her conversion
away from the Baptism of her youth to a militantly atheist brand of
Freethought. Before embarking upon a full account of this
counter-conversion, Martin paused to explain the significance of her tale.
‘But reader,’ she
How did laywomen become nuns in the early modern world?
Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt
decision to become a nun. Because taking the veil and becoming a nun
was such a customary feature of the religious landscape of early
modern Europe, it is easy to pass over its significance. Though not
a conversion in the sense of adopting a new faith, the moment at
which a (typically) young woman entered a monastic community
signalled a profound conversion of her
In her history of the Bhil mission,
Battling and Building amongst the Bhils , Rose Carter
recounted an inspiring narrative of conversion. 1 She stated that before his death
at Lusadiya in 1898, Surmaldas, the guru of the Bhagats, made a number
famine would shortly occur
Gender and conversion in the early modern Mediterranean
case, Mosca’s motivation in this dramatic act was
‘not due to any devotion he had for the Turkish faith’,
but rather was done to save his skin so that he could continue his
life of piracy. And, in partnership with several Ottomans from
Castelnovo, he had a new boat constructed post-haste to support his
At the time of his flight and conversion, Mosca left
during the First Crusade
Apostasy and Jewish identity
Forced conversion during the First Crusade
he tendency that emerges from Rashi’s words reflects a decisive
leadership approach, establishing a clear direction of attempting to
return converts to Christianity to Judaism. The self-definition of Judaism
its leaders sought to establish was that of a religion that felt confident in its
ability to deal with Christian theological claims and in its political ability to
deal with the threat of forced conversion.
This situation changed during
for these women were fierce, but victory was
especially rewarding. Or at least it was if the missionaries could
convince their readers that when such women were baptised, their
conversions were sincere and their new Catholic faith was profound.
And to do that, the miraculous had to defeat the demonic. If a
convert worked a healing deemed miraculous, then the depth of her
Hegemony, shifting identities and conversions
It is a rather strange world that we live in. Whereas in this post-modern age
many of us can appreciate Darwin and his theory of the evolution of the
human species and we can identify with scientists searching for the missing
link, it is difficult for most of us to accept that originally we were all adivasis.
This seems to be the undiscovered ‘missing link’ when it comes to the
evolution and development of the caste system in south Asia.
Another problem relates to the manner in which Hinduism is presented as
‘Free speech’ and the rights of trans and non-binary people on university
particularities, to whom our brave teachers are compelled to administer an abrasive but medicinal draught. Reed might seem to be pleading for the rational exchange of secular ideas in the public sphere of academic debate, but his mode of addressing his readers makes him sound like nothing so much as a travelling huckster shopping that good old-time religion.
In short, for Christopher Reed, transness is a phase, and grad school a kind of conversion therapy. Consider these remarks:
3. In a capitalist culture, we are expected to solve our own problems – ideally by buying