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Exiled identities in early modern Anabaptism

  • Ertegun House Oxford, OX1 3LD UK (map)

As part of the the conference Prison/Exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe, I will be speaking about the experience of exile amongst Anabaptists and how these experiences were remembered and became integral to Anabaptist culture. 

This is an interdisciplinary conference exploring the related themes of imprisonment, exile, and other kinds of confinement in the early modern period, through the lenses of history, literature, theology, art history, and music.

The conference seeks to explore the relationship between space, identity, and religious belief in early modern Europe, through the correlative, yet distinct experiences of imprisonment and exile. Papers explore the phenomena of imprisonment and exile in the early modern period, especially those that relate these modalities of control to the complex and evolving religious thought of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe.

At a time when incarceration or exile was a distinct possibility, even likelihood, for many of Europe’s innovative thinkers, how did the experience of imprisonment or banishment influence the texts—theological, political, and literary—produced in the early modern period? How did early modern individuals inhabit, conceptualise, and represent “unfree” space? How does the spatial turn help us to investigate the impact of the confines of prison or the exile’s physical separation from their community on the production and development of religious thought? Does imprisonment or exile exaggerate polemical language and heighten sectarian differences, or induce censorship and temper dissenting voices?

Keynote lectures will be given by Professor Rivkah Zim (King’s College, London) and Professor Bruce Gordon (Yale University).