Fifth Annual Cambridge-Tübingen Workshop

DAAD, Cambridge University; Seminar für Neuere Geschichte, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
20.09.2018 - 21.09.2018
Louis-David Finkeldei / Ulrich Stober, Seminar für Neuere Geschichte, Universität Tübingen

During the fifth annual Cambridge-Tübingen Workshop financed by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub, medieval and early modern historians as well as Islamic scholars gathered in Tübingen to explore the broad field of entanglements of the religious sphere. The main objective of the conference was to analyse religion from a global and entangled perspective and to uncover the various links between the religions in and outside of Europe through the medieval and early modern history. The individual panels focused on the textuality, materiality and corporeality of religiosity as well as the relationship between early modern empires and religion. The conference was opened by RENATE DÜRR (Tübingen) and ULINKA RUBLACK (Cambridge).

The first panel focused on Islamic religiosity. AMINA NAWAZ (Tübingen) examined Morisco devotional manuscripts in sixteenth-century Spain. She suggested a re-reading of these texts, which represent daily religious life on a non-elite level. Although one would expect the sources to reveal the Moriscos as isolated in a crisis, the manuscripts offer a positive theology, influenced by daily religious life. The descriptions of religious practices make it difficult to identify particular Morisco features. Occasionally, though, the sources betray interreligious referencing with Christian texts, demonstrating the existence of a shared devotional space.

Moving from the Iberian Peninsula to the Arabic world, BLANCA VILLUENDAS SABATÉ (Tübingen) presented ongoing research on a 300 folios volume of ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (1641–1731), which deals with dreams and the interpretation of dreams. Al-Nābulusī was highly successful with this volume, which is evidenced by its wide distribution and use. Furthermore, she highlighted his ten-year trip through the Arabic world as knowledge base of the volume.

The second panel dealt with questions of textuality, translation and accommodation in the Protestant world. First SIMONE HANEBAUM (Cambridge) offered a new perspective on physical and textual memorials in Protestant England between 1560 and 1650. Whereas most scholars claimed Puritans’ general rejection of physical memories, Hanebaum used three case studies to demonstrate the existence of a distinctly Protestant form of physical memory. She recognized an increase in the building of funerary monuments since 1600 and in the publication of printed memorials, which were often represented as physical monuments. Hanebaum’s research shows a convergence of the boundaries between physical and textual space. The textual monuments did not replace but complement the actual monuments.

MARTIN CHRIST (Tübingen / Erfurt) discussed different aspects of religious coexistence in Upper Lusatia illustrated by a rare depiction of a Catholic-Lutheran “Simultankirche” painted by Matthias Crocinus (Dom St. Petri, Bautzen, 1641). He offered two versions to interpret the picture: At first sight, it can be seen as a sign of peaceful coexistence regulated by contract. Viewed closely, the picture conveys a less harmonic impression, though, for the Lutherans are placed in the front of the painting, whereas the Catholics are depicted as a shapeless crowd in the background. Christ then contextualised his interpretation with reference to contemporary textual evidence of religious practices, which reveals that Protestants and Catholics in Upper Lusatia were indeed prepared to compromise and accommodate. They moreover influenced each other in their religious practices in overlapping spaces.

With a case study of John Lockman’s Travels of the Jesuits (1743 / 1763), which was based on the Lettres Édifiantes et Curieuses (Charles le Gobien & Jean Baptiste du Halde, 1702-1776), RENATE DÜRR (Tübingen) examined reception processes of Jesuit knowledge in Protestant England. Dürr interpreted this knowledge as dangerous, because English Protestants generally regarded Jesuit knowledge in 18th century as untrustworthy and suspicious due to its allegedly specially ‘Jesuit’ (and therefore poisoned) world view. She focused on Lockman’s emotional strategy to approach, read, and translate Jesuit letters as an antidote to the metaphoric Jesuit vipers’ poison. For Lockman, useful antidotes were, for instance, a critical approach towards rhetoric, a tête-à-tête of opinions, footnotes and lengthy commentaries. By assessing dangerous Jesuit knowledge through dialogue, it was rendered harmless and turned useful. Occasionally, Lockman even defended Jesuit positions.

The third panel focused on religion and the body. In her presentation on concepts of the body in the High Middle Ages, DANIELA BLUM (Tübingen) discussed the role of physical suffering in the lives of saints, nuns, and recluses living in Brabant and Flanders in the 13th century. She showed that corporeal suffering could be seen as an imitation of Christ. For the saints, this suffering was a central way to approach God and attain salvation. Feeling corporeal pain meant smelling purgatory’s stench and feeling its heat. Finally she showed that hagiographical sources do not distinguish between Christ’s body and the saints’ bodies in suffering.

In recent research on the history of the body, food and eating are attracting more and more attention. ELEANOR BARNETT (Cambridge) analysed the role of eating in the production of religious identities in the Reformation period. In her comparison between English Protestants and Italian Catholics she focused especially on three aspects: Firstly, diet in general, secondly, food and thirdly, eating practices. From this methodological approach she showed, that for each group diet was as key way by which they expressed their faith, but that there are also significant differences. While for English Protestants, receiving bread and wine meant meditating on the body, the soul and on Christ, for Italian Catholics, bad digestion could have direct negative influence on the soul.

The fourth panel on materiality opened with ULINKA RUBLACK (Cambridge). Her presentation focused on a parade held at the Lutheran court of Württemberg in the year 1599, during which the members of the court and the duke Frederick I. (1557–1608) presented themselves in extravagant featherworks imitating Native American costumes. In a global perspective, she showed that for small Lutheran courts, too, the discovery of America played a great role and that, moreover, they did not perceive America as inferior. In her analysis of the production processes of the featherworks, she pointed out that most of the works were actually produced in Württemberg. The process of making the featherworks therefore involved a complex learning process on the side of the craftsmen. At the same time, the few original American featherworks bought in the Netherlands reveal Württemberg as well connected to global trade. On this basis, Rublack argued for a reassessment of Lutheran court culture in the sixteenth century.

IRENE GALANDRA COOPER (Cambridge) then discussed the importance of objects for Catholic religiosity in the 16th century. Her case study was based on an inventory of Margarita of Austria, in which she commented on the objects she considered as most important shortly before her death. Cooper’s profound analysis on the origins and the meanings of these objects showed that not all of them had their roots in the Christian world, but many were also linked to the Islamic world.

The fifth panel discussed the relation between religion and empire. In his analysis on Spanish imperial cosmopolitism, ADOLFO POLO Y LA BORDA (Tübingen / Bogotá) highlighted the role of Catholicism for the creation of a common identity. Starting with a discussion on the links between imperialism and cosmopolitanism, he pointed out that there were two ways of dealing with diversity: Embracing it or making the world fit into one’s own form of diversity. On the basis of a manual on the good Catholic soldier he then argued that Catholicism as common faith functioned as the uniting element in Spanish cosmopolitanism. Finally he demonstrated that the creation of Spanish cosmopolitanism was not necessarily controlled by the central government but came in wide parts also from the margins, as Felipe Guaman Poma’s ‘Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno’ reveals.

The final discussion focused on the term “entanglement”. The question arose why entanglement should be preferred to terms like hybridization. It was argued that hybridization takes two pure and completely separated entities for granted, which never existed in such a way because cultures are always in motion. In addition, entanglement makes the agency of individuals strong and raises questions about practices. It has been noted that especially with regard to religion, the relation between doctrine and practice is still very much debated. In order to counter the argument that in a way, everything is entangled, Renate Dürr emphasized the relevance of case studies. Different entanglements show different elements of the whole story. In order to maintain a global-historical approach, small-scale studies and an international collaboration of specialists from different disciplines is required. Exactly this has been showed by the presentations on the fifth Cambridge-Tübingen Workshop.

Conference Overview:

Renate Dürr (Tübingen) and Ulinka Rublack (Cambridge): Welcome and Introduction

Panel 1: Islamic Religiosity
Chair: Helen Pfeifer (Cambridge)

Amina Nawaz (Tübingen): A Shared Space: Morisco Devotional Manuscripts as Vital Sources for Early Modern Religious History

Blanca Villuendas Sabaté (Tübingen): Dreams as a source of knowledge in ʿAbd al-Ghānī al-Nābulusī

Panel 2: Textuality, Translation and Accommodation in the Protestant World
Chair: Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge)

Simone Hanebaum (Cambridge): Reformation, religion and textual monumentality in England, 1560–1650

Martin Christ (Tübingen / Erfurt): A Catholic king and his Lutheran territory: Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, c. 1520–1635

Renate Dürr (Tübingen): How to deal with dangerous knowlegde: John Lockman and the translation of Jesuits’ letters into Enlightenment society

Panel 3: Religion and the Body
Chair: Mary Laven (Cambridge)

Daniela Blum (Tübingen): Concepts of the body in the High Middle Ages

Eleanor Barnett (Cambridge): Food and religious identities in the European Reformations

Panel 4: Materiality
Chair: Philip Hahn (Tübingen)

Ulinka Rublack (Cambridge): Frederick I of Württemberg: A Lutheran duke as Lady America

Irene Galandra Cooper (Cambridge): Virtuous objects between religion, art and science in early modern Italy

Panel 5: Religion and Empire
Chair: Andreas Holzem (Tübingen)

Adolfo Polo y La Borda (Tübingen / Bogotá): Catholicism and the Spanish Imperial Cosmopolitanism

Tagungsbericht: Fifth Annual Cambridge-Tübingen Workshop, 20.09.2018 – 21.09.2018 Tübingen, in: H-Soz-Kult, 25.06.2019, <>.