Luther and the Emotional Dynamics of the Reformation

A public lecture by Professor Lyndal Roper, University of Oxford

The Reformation was a theological and intellectual movement, but it was also profoundly emotional. Luther’s unbearable fear and despair as a monk was what impelled him to understand God’s justice differently. Anger was central to Luther’s creativity – time and again, he reached new intellectual insights through attacking father figures. Envy, too, played its part, and in his letters Luther constantly attributes envy to others. And when clerical celibacy was abolished and priests began to marry, a host of complex sexual emotions were unleashed. This lecture explores how we can understand the Reformation differently by exploring its emotional dynamics.

Lyndal Roper is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Oxford and editor of the premier historical journal, Past and Present. She has recently been appointed Regius Professor of History at Oxford – the first woman and the first Australian to be appointed to this prestigious chair. Professor Roper works primarily in the field of gender history and the religious and social history of early modern Germany. Her publications have focused on issues of gender, witchcraft, the body, dreams and fantasy. Her forthcoming book is Witchcraft and the Western Imagination (University of Virginia Press) and she is now working on a biography of Martin Luther. Lyndal Roper is an alumna of the University of Melbourne.

Date: Wednesday, 14 December 2011 6:15–7:30, Theatre D, Old Arts Building, The University of Melbourne.

Admission is free. Seating is limited. Registrations are recommended.

Contact: For information and registration please contact Jessica Scott: (03) 8344 5152.

The lecture follows a day long symposium.

Symposium: Emotions and Historical  Change in Pre-Modern Europe

Date: 14th December 9am

Venue:  Arts West, G11 (Theatrette 1, Ground Floor), Building 148, University of Melbourne, Parkville University of Melbourne, Parkville (next to the Baillieu Library)

Contact and Registration: Jessica Scott ph: +61 3 8344 5152


For full program and abstracts click here (pdf)

9.00–9.15 Charles Zika (University of Melbourne) Welcome & Introduction


Dolly Mackinnon (University of Queensland) Remembering and forgetting Naseby (1645): blood, sacrifice, & pilgrimage.

Di Hall (Victoria University) Gastley strang and formidable expression by spiritts”: Emotions and encounters with the supernatural in 17th century Ireland

Peter Sherlock (United Faculty of Theology) Is memory an emotion? Visiting monuments in early modern England

10.45–11.10 MORNING BREAK


Peter Howard (Monash University) Emotions & Preaching in Renaissance Florence

Sarah Randles (University of Melbourne) Place, Space and the Material in the Emotional Response to Medieval Chartres

Sarah Ferber (University of Wollongong) Worlds behind the world: the politics of the imagination in early modern witchcraft, demonic possession and spirituality

Sue Broomhall (University of Western Australia) Curating premodern emotions in modern spaces: a focus on religious objects

1.10–2.05 LUNCH


Tomas Zahara (Monash University) Three centuries of fear: St. Anselm, Alexander Neckam, and the author of the Speculum morale on the cultivation of a fearful emotional state

Claire Walker (University of Adelaide) The Papists plot of firing discovered’: Fear of Catholics in Restoration London

Heather Dalton (University of Melbourne) Wonder, fear, fury, love and loyalty in the 16th century Atlantic



Katie Barclay (University of Adelaide) Intimacy and the Lower-Class Family in the Long Eighteenth Century: Oral Cultures and Spatial Dramas

David Lemmings (University of Adelaide) Governing Emotions: the Affective Family, the Press and Reforming the Law in Eighteenth-century Britain

5.30–6.15 RECEPTION

6.15–7.30 Lyndal Roper (University of Oxford) The Emotional Dynamics of the Reformation