Gender and religious change in early modern Europe

Edited by Simon Ditchfield and Helen Smith



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Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0705-3
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: January 2017
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Early Modern Literature, Literature, Literature: history & criticism, Europe, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 17th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / General, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800


Conversions is the first collection to explicitly address the intersections between sexed identity and religious change in the two centuries following the Reformation. Chapters deal with topics as diverse as convent architecture and missionary enterprise, the replicability of print and the representation of race. Bringing together leading scholars of literature, history and art history, Conversions offers new insights into the varied experiences of, and responses to, conversion across and beyond Europe. A lively Afterword by Professor Matthew Dimmock (University of Sussex) drives home the contemporary urgency of these themes and the lasting legacies of the Reformations.


'This excellent collection of essays examines conversion at a time in which religious and theological uncertainties led to the reconfiguration of early modern European national identities. Ranging across regions and cities, from London to Venice, the essays also focus on issues of gender, hybridity and literary conventions. This book is an important addition to the growing body of scholarship on the study of the history of religion in Western Europe.'
Nabil Matar, University of Minnesota

'This stimulating collection yields new insights into the fluid, unstable and creative relationship between gender and conversion in early modern Europe. Approaching the subject from a range of perspectives, it comprises a series of probing investigations of the nexus between religious subjectivity and gender identity against the backdrop of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations. A model of interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration, it demonstrates compellingly how language, literature and culture reflected and shaped individual experiences of spiritual change.'
Alexandra Walsham, University of Cambridge

'Offers an engrossing gallery of new work that makes a compelling case for embracing methodologically diverse approaches to the interface of gender and religious conversion in early modernity.'
Professor Lowell Gallagher, Studies in English Literature


Notes on contributors
Introduction - Simon Ditchfield and Helen Smith

Part I: Gendering conversion
1 To piety or conversion more prone? Gender and conversion
in the early modern Mediterranean - Eric Dursteler
2 The quiet conversion of a 'Jewish' woman in eighteenthcentury
Spain - David Graizbord
3 'A father to the soul and a son to the body': gender and
generation in Robert Southwell's Epistle to his father -
Hannah Crawforth
4 Gender and reproduction in the Spirituall experiences -
Abigail Shinn

Part II: Material conversions
5 'The needle may convert more than the pen': women
and the work of conversion in early modern England -
Claire Canavan and Helen Smith
6 Uneven conversions: how did laywomen become nuns in the
early modern world?- Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt
7 Domus humilis: the conversion of Venetian convent
architecture and identity - Saundra Weddle
8 Converting the soundscape of women's rituals, 1470-1560:
purification, candles, and the Inviolata as music for
churching - Jane D. Hatter

Part III: Travel, race, and conversion
9 Narrating women's Catholic conversions in seventeenthcentury
Vietnam - Keith P. Luria
10 'I wish to be no other but as he': Persia, masculinity, and
conversion in early seventeenth-century travel writing and
drama - Chloë Houston
11 Turning tricks: erotic commodification, cross-cultural
conversion, and the bed-trick on the English stage,
1580-1630 - Daniel Vitkus
12 Whatever happened to Dinah the Black? And other questions
about gender, race, and the visibility of Protestant saints -
Kathleen Lynch

Afterword - Matthew Dimmock


Simon Ditchfield is Professor of Early Modern History and Director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York

Helen Smith is Professor of Renaissance Literature and Head of the Department of English & Related Literature at the University of York

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