From Reformation to Reformations: On Analogies, Ideals and Ideas

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Amsterdam Centre for Religious History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
20.09.2017 - 21.09.2017
Bart Wallet

Over the centuries, the historical events of the Reformation movement, tentatively dated to have started in 1517 Wittenberg, have acquired additional meanings. Later generations developed the Reformation into a model, metaphor or ideal, through which they detached ‘Reformation’ from its immediate historical context and made it either a process or a principle. As a process, ‘Reformation’ was meant to be continued, updated, re-evaluated, and even emulated in new contexts. As a principle, ‘Reformation’ could both function as a supposedly objective ‘ideal’ to correct contemporary circumstances, or as a model which can be transferred to other domains: religions, cultural, political and social movements. An iconized view of the Reformation could thus function, for example, as an ideal and/or analogy for ‘Reform Judaism’ and a (search for an) ‘Islamic Reformation’.
This conference aims to contribute to the developing field of cross-cultural religious and cultural studies by analyzing the cultural, political and linguistic uses of the ‘Reformation’ in the modern era, from circa 1800 until the present day. It asks how and why modern movements, intellectuals and politicians referred to the ‘Reformation’ – as historical event, process, or principle. It will highlight how in modernity, ‘Reformation’ oscillated between a static, historic definition on the one hand, and a dynamic and subjective interpretation on the other. The focus of this conference will be primarily on (post-)modern uses of the ‘Reformation’ outside the strict context of Protestant theology, but in various other religious traditions and societies.
The Historical Documentation Center for Dutch Protestantism, partner of the Amsterdam Centre for Religious History at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and the research group ‘Sources’ of the Protestant Theological University Amsterdam invites papers on the following or related topics:

- The ‘Reformation’ as analogy, idea or ideal in/for Islam, Judaism and other world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism etc.)
- Reform Judaism and its uses and interpretations of the Reformation; searches for ‘Jewish Luther(s)’
- Western projects for ‘Reformation’ in Islam and the Middle East
- Islamic appropriations of the ‘Reformation’ metaphor, searches for ‘Islamic Reformation’ and ‘Islamic Luther(s)’
- The ‘Reformation’ in/and Eastern Orthodox Christianity
- The ‘Reformation’ as a dynamic concept within Protestantism: neo-Calvinism, ‘further Reformation’, continuous Reformation, calls for a ‘new Reformation’
- The Catholic adoption of ‘Reformation’: historiography of terminologies
- ‘Counter-Reformation’ and ‘Catholic Reformation’ as analogous categories
- Begriffsgeschichte (conceptual history) of the term ‘Reformation’
- Begriffsgeschichte on the uses of ‘Reformation(s)’ in modern historiography
- The invocation of ‘Reformation’ in social contexts
- The transfer of ‘Reformation’ from the religious to other domains: Reformation of manners; reformation of rights; reformation of philosophy, reformation of the landscape etc.
- Modern uses of Reformation rituals: 95 theses; Luther quotations; Ein Feste Burg
- Semantic connections constructed between ‘Reformation’ and ‘Renaissance’
- Secular, secularist, socialist and (neo-)liberal uses of ‘Reformation’

The conference will be held at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 20-21 September 2017. Limited funding is available for travel expenses, especially for early career scholars.

The conference proceedings will be published by Brill Academic Publishers in their double blind peer reviewed Church History and Religious Culture Series.

Deadline for abstract: 1 May 2017. Acceptance will be notified by 15 May 2017.

All abstracts should be sent to Proposals should include a 250 word abstract and title, as well as the author’s name, address, email address and institutional affiliation.


Bart Wallet

Amsterdam Centre for Religious History Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Boelelaan 1105 1081 HV Amsterdam Netherlands

From Reformation to Reformations: On Analogies, Ideals and Ideas, 20.09.2017 – 21.09.2017 Amsterdam, in: H-Soz-Kult, 24.03.2017, <>.