Writing Reformation Lives

Event Date: 
27 Jun 2016 to 28 Jun 2016

Wolfson College, Oxford


This is a conference about religious lives in early modern Europe. Who wrote them? Why did they do so? And why should we still be doing so today? It aims to evaluate the remarkable proliferation of biographical texts which took place in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and to reconsider how we use them in our own research. What can biographical writing reveal about early modern religion which other sources cannot? And how should we incorporate biography amongst the techniques we use to excavate it?


This conference, generously funded by the John Fell Fund, invites twenty-minute papers on any aspect of biographical writing and early modern religion in Europe, its neighbours or its colonies. Papers may touch on general methodological issues (how do we write historical biography of figures from the long distant past?) and on biography’s place as a genre – between popular history, narrative, archival studies, and gossip. But they will also reflect on questions specific to the period and the genre: is there a history to life-writing in the Reformation? How did individuals decide which lives to write? Which confessional identities or institutional loyalties determine their choices? How far did new practices and technologies shape their sources or their use of sources? How far does that same question apply to us?


The conference will take place at Wolfson College, Oxford, on Tuesday 28th June with a plenary lecture by Lyndal Roper (Regius Professor of History) and a drinks reception in the Old Dining Room, St Edmund Hall at 5pm on Monday 27th June. Funding and costs towards travel and accommodation are available for those who present.


Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to miles.pattenden@wolfson.ox.ac.uk by 29th February 2016.


Submission date for papers: 
29 Feb 2016
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