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Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

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Discussion Questions

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  1. Discussion Questions • Can we view theatre and the woodcut (and other visual media) as contributing to the success of the Reformation? • How might Pettegree integrate into his argument about woodcuts information about images of Luther taken from Scribner’s article about the incombustible Luther? • Did the book make the Reformation or did the Reformation make the book? • Does it make sense to say that success and failure co-existed in the English Reformation?

  2. Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion • Our purposes in reading the book: • to assess the effectiveness of various media to present and gain acceptance of the religious message of the Reformation • to supplement our investigation of the debate about the success / failure of the Reformation. Can you find connections between the book and the assigned articles and MacCulloch’sReformation? • Questions to keep in mind: • How do we assess effectiveness? • Does effective presentation of the Reformation message necessarily mean acceptance of the message?

  3. Reformers on Stage: Miracles and Mysteries • Theatre: urban events, cost often borne by civic officials and guilds • 4 types: mystery miracle, morality, humanist theatre • mystery (most popular): esp. Corpus Christi / passion plays: elaborate, opportunities for rowdiness • miracle: shorter, celebrate life a saint • morality: stories about virtue and vice personified • humanist: influenced by classical models

  4. Reformers on Stage: Reformation Drama • Wittenberg: Luther in favour of drama performed in the schools but leery of resurgence of mystery play: too close to the Mass • carnival plays (Fastnachtspiel): in Nürnberg: Hans Sachs; in Bern: Niklaus Manuel • themes: anti-papal, anti-clerical, anti-monastic: poked fun at old Church • at least in Bern, these plays are more effective before the Reformation has become fully established; once established, ribaldry less seemly

  5. Reformers on Stage: Reformation Drama • after carnival plays (and establishing of Reformation) Protestants turned to humanist drama: • emphasis on intellectual comprehension, not emotional response • “synergy of senses to do God’s work” (i.e. sight and hearing, p. 86) • many plays dramatized biblical stories e.g. Joseph, Goliath, Susanna, Abraham sacrifiant (Theodore Beza) • Protestant biblical drama: pedagogical tool, written by elites = pastors, schoolmasters, members of ruling urban elites

  6. Reformers on Stage: The Drama of Dissent • in England briefly under Henry VIII: plays by John Bale (The Knaveries of Thomas Becket, King Johne): endorsed royal policy of removing images • dissent difficult in places where Reformation not (yet) welcome, e.g. France • “coded criticism” (91) • Drama made “its most effective contribution to the evangelical cause in places where the Reformation had already been introduced, articulating shared values in a communal setting” (96)

  7. Reformers on Stage: The Drama of Dissent • Chambers of Rhetoric (Rederijkerkamers) in Netherlands: • originated in fifteenth century • criticisms of Roman orthodoxy are subtle • appealed to “assertive social class that was both politically powerful and numerous in the unusually urbanized society of the Netherlands” (95), “the exclusive preserve of polite society” (95)

  8. Reformers on Stage: The Theatrical City • in second half of sixteenth century, biblical drama lost some of its appeal • London: rise of “permanently established playhouses” (96) • loss of confidence in drama: “The Word of God could only be preached” (98) • “If the godly had no time for the play, the playwrights certainly reserved a space for God” (100) • Christopher Marlowe, The Massacre of Paris:French Wars of Religion • Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday: allegory of Protestant struggle in Netherlands: • appealed to biblically savvy audience

  9. The Visual Image • how to get Reformation message across to wide public: scholars have postulated “a special role for visual images” (102) • “ the evangelical movement coincided with one of the great ages of German art” (102) • much used medium: the woodcut • Scribner used woodcuts to demonstrate appeal of Reformation to common people • spread of Reformed Protestantism in France and Netherlands occurred “without the help of illustrative woodcuts” (106)

  10. The Visual Image • Pettegree’s purpose: to test whether woodcuts played a vital role in transmitting message of the Reformation to “the broader mass of the population” (105) • “The first generation of the German evangelical movement certainly produced a range of arresting images. But for whose benefit? And what precisely did they convey to those who possessed them?” (106)

  11. The Visual Image: The World through Blunted Sight • no reason to believe that problems of vision in the early modern period were any less prevalent than today • consequence for early modern Europeans: “the visual culture of the period was not always perceived with precision” (109) • “…one must not assume that sixteenth-century citizens had that eye for detail that is an absolute staple of interpretation of art, or indeed of the satirical woodcut” (109)

  12. The Visual Image: Reading Pictures • misinterpretation and complex interpretation; • Was the image more comprehensible than the text? • Was it possible to interpret images without an accompanying caption? • Were captions read aloud so as to explain the text? •  An image “functioned as a form of stimulation and additional edification (or entertainment) for those who already had access to this complex world of image and association through text” (114) •  images as badges of belonging

  13. The Visual Image: Reading Aloud • “Reformation woodcuts were not instantly accessible” (117) • Did the literate read to the illiterate? (118). • usually: social inferiors read for superiors; many listeners would be readers; • scholarly idea of reading for spreading the Reformation: superiors read to inferiors = world turned upside down.

  14. The Visual Image: Placing the Woodcut • illustrations in expensive books, one of the most expensive features of books • “crisis of purpose” “crisis for the illustrative woodcut tradition” (122) • Second Reformation (Calvin and Bullinger) not as open as Luther to using images for religious purposes • by 1550s, “the woodcut image had certainly receded from its heady prominence in the first evangelical decade” (123)

  15. The Visual Image: Art and the Reformation • Lucas Cranach, a great artist and member of Luther’s circle • themes of art: Christ with children, Good Shepherd, crucifixion • church art was public: but did viewers think of theological originality? • Reformation themes “less evident in the realm of cheap print” (127) • Reformation art: “a primary instrument of conversion” (127)?

  16. Lucas Cranach, The Law and Gospel (1529)

  17. Lucas Cranach, Wittenberg Altarpiece (1547)

  18. Industry and Intellect: The European Book World ; • book already a mature technology before Reformation (128) • manuscript books; their influence on printed books • dominant print centres: Antwerp, Paris, Venice, Rome, Basel • printing requires much capital investment • privileges for protection • by 1490s: news pamphlets; later Reformation pamphlets

  19. Industry and Intellect: The European Book World ; • “It is undoubtedly very important for the particular role of the book in the German Reformation that the evangelical movement was first incubated in the one part of the European book world least susceptible to the system of controls that had emerged to protect and shape book publishing in the incunabula age” (134)

  20. Industry and Intellect: Boomtown Wittenberg ; • Luther embraced print • worked with printers and publishers • adept at shaping writing for market place; • Wittenberg became a major printing centre: • large print runs for Luther’s works: Melchior Lotter printed 4000 copies of first reformation treatise (1520)

  21. Industry and Intellect: Boomtown Wittenberg ; • Lucas Cranach, business man: • monopolies in sweet wines and spices for apothecary trade; painting workshop, • virtual monopoly on production of woodcuts • Cranach affects layout of Wittenberg books • Cranach takes advantage of friendship with Luther to help his business • Luther in constant demand: New Testament (1522) sold well

  22. Industry and Intellect: Geneva ; • print revived with Reformation • tremendous impetus from Calvin, who constantly wrote for publication • promoted French Bible and Genevan psalms. • émigrés from France contribute to Geneva’s success in printing • print more regulated than at Wittenberg • clandestine distribution network presided over by Laurent de Normandie

  23. Industry and Intellect: The Book in the Market Place ; • “the success of Protestant print” (147) • pamphlet surge: • Germany (1520s) • France and Netherlands (1560s) • difficult to publish dissident texts • lucrative to print broadsheets, pamphlets, small books • anonymous pamphleteering widespread in Reformation

  24. Industry and Intellect: The Book in the Market Place ; • Print “served a steadily growing market, with goods of high quality in a range of genres and styles. It was one of the ornaments, as well as an increasingly important part of the sinews, of sixteenth century society. On the other hand, the industry possessed a brooding, latent capacity for explosive growth in conditions of unusual economic or political opportunity. It was precisely this combination that inspired the printing phenomenon of the Reformation” (155).

  25. Success and Failure in the English Reformation • Does it make sense to say that success and failure co-existed in the English Reformation? (See p. 48) • What criteria does Haigh use to measure success / failure? • What view of the Reformation does Haigh’s article imply? • Does London, “the theatrical city” (Pettegree, 96) belong to Haigh’s England? • How would you locate Haigh’s article in the debate about the Reformation’s success and failure, as far as you are currently familiar with the debate? Consider especially the article by Strauss.