Overview: Frankfurt POLY Lectures on “Space and Religion II” (Winter Term 2023/24)

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All talk of religion implies talk of space; churches, mosques and synagogues all testify to this fact. But the connection between religion and space goes beyond mere architecture, with the spatiality being of fundamental importance to religion. In a series of lectures over the course of the winter terms of 2022/23 and 2023/24, the Frankfurt research group ‘Polycentricity and Plurality of Premodern Christianities’ (POLY) will be exploring the spatial embeddedness of medieval and early modern Christianities, pursuing a host of questions about the often-contested spatiality of religion: To what extent, for example, did early modern piety rely on private spaces? For whom did churches serve as sanctuaries in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic? And how did religious practices that were aimed at the commemoration of extreme climate and weather events shape medieval urban spaces? Besides addressing physical spaces, we will also turn to abstract spaces and examine, among other things, how the proportional representation of human bodies and objects in space were related to Reformation controversies over images. In a reflexive mode, too, we will discuss how notions of space have implicitly and explicitly moulded our understanding of religion, and how they continue to exert an influence on the way historians today write the history of religion.

About the picture: Church Interior with Christ Preaching to a Congregation (1545–1570), attributed to Cornelis van Dalem and Jan van Wechelen (image: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam).

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