"Bells and Apotropaic Magic in Post-Reformation Germany” | Early Modern Research Cluster


Friday, December 1, 2017 - 14:00 to 16:00


In the decades following Martin Luther’s reformation (1517ff), religious differences
between the traditional Church and new Protestant communities were expressed most vividly in terms of sacred space, the experience of which was shaped by sound no less than other media. The traditional power attributed to consecrated bells of driving away thunderstorms, the devilish forces that caused them, and evil more generally was a phenomenon that helps us to understand different notions of sacred space across religious boundaries. Official Protestant efforts to desacralize bells and discourage notions of their apotropaic power collided not only with Catholic apologetics, but also with persistent popular beliefs in the supernatural. Throughout the early modern era, bells and their sounds remained deeply implicated in the enchantment, and gradual disenchantment, of the European soundscape.

About the Presenter

Alex Fisher is Professor in the School of Music, where he teaches courses on music history ranging from the Middle Ages to the Baroque, and coordinates the School’s Early Music Ensemble. A specialist in music, sound, and religious culture in early modern Germany, he is the author of two books, Music and Religious Identity in Counter- Reformation Augsburg, 1580-1630 (2004), andMusic, Piety, and Propaganda: The Soundscapes of Counter-Reformation Bavaria (2014).