I don’t recall the first time I heard about Fair Trade. I have second-hand memories of dire instant coffee. Second-hand because I didn’t start drinking coffee till I was an undergraduate. By then the instant stuff had improved, though I’m committed to ground coffee these days.
It must be six months or more since I first heard that Oxford church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch was coming to Sheffield as a Prokhorov lecturer. I immediately emailed the colleague responsible to reserve a place at the masterclass. Though I doubt he recalls it, MacCulloch was approached as a possible examiner for my PhD thesis and I remain a little bit fanatical about his work on Reformations—so marvellously complex. It is therefore with real sadness that I find myself on the outside of that event.
Masterclass day is day 2 of UCU strikes. Pensions are the official issue, but there’s a wider anger afoot. Zero-hour teaching contracts, a culture of publish or perish, constant criticism from public figures who think they have an idea how we spend our summers.
All this comes as a project I’ve been curating for (coincidentally) at least 6 months felt like it was taking off. And with permission from an organising colleague, we had advertised MacCulloch’s evening lecture under that 500 Reformations umbrella. 500 Reformations had itself revealed to me an unexpected direction of collegiate interest in Luther. I found myself added into a collaborative bid to consider the great reformer’s philosophical legacy. The first event for that collaboration is also taking place on day 2 of the strikes.
As it happens I know through private networks that I’m far from the only person who queried the intention to go ahead with the scheduled events as planned. However, for some colleagues it is apparently less obvious that this kind of collaborative enterprise–whether masterclass or explorative meeting–is part of the labour our union has asked us to withdraw, part of the work the University finds valuable, part of what I’m–we’re–paid to get involved in. (Yes, I know there’s luxury in that.) I wish I were able to reconcile my priorities with such personal convenience, or that we were able to find a workable compromise—to postpone or cancel the planned events and perhaps do something informal, off-campus in their place.
Sadly, that kind of resolution looks increasingly unlikely. So I’ve ploughed my energies into a creative protest, one that harnesses a little of Luther’s language and hopefully achieves a level of provocative kindness.
To the picket line, good people… okay, sinners.
Yesterday evening, I went to the village of Bradbourne, to talk about ‘what the Reformation ever did for Bradbourne’ as part of the 500 Reformations project. It was my first visit to the village, and I’d like to go back: Apart from anything else, I arrived and left in the hours of darkness and have yet to see the wall painting which provided the local jumping off point to my talk. Also, my co-speaker and I had a warm reception from an audience of 38 people and a dog. That’s about a third of Bradbourne’s population.* It was a full house. Continue reading 500 Reformations of Bradbourne
The past few weeks have been busy with preparations for the launch of 500 Reformations. This week, I received links to videos of two of the three public talks I gave earlier in the year. I’ve just found the necessary ten minutes to watch myself back. Ignoring the note of mild stress in the voice (I have to get through all this in 10 minutes!) I was pleased to find I could watch it through without cringing. Continue reading Luther & Language (video)
Two years ago, Richard Wistreich gave a lecture and masterclass as part of a Visiting Speaker series at the University of Sheffield. This was during my stint as Coordinator for the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies (SCEMS). At dinner after the lecture, I discovered Richard’s son-in-law is a fellow biblical scholar (and friend).* Richard quizzed me over the absence of biblical studies in the Society for Renaissance Studies (of which he is Vice Chair). Where, he wanted to know, are all the early modern biblical studies scholars? And how do we get them to RenSoc?
Did Luther really change the world? What was reformation? How are the effects felt today?
Kicking off in October, researchers at the University of Sheffield are putting ourselves on the menu for public consumption. In part a response to the question, “What did Martin Luther ever do for Sheffield?” (asked in the run-up to my 2 minutes on BBC Radio Sheffield this Spring), 500 Reformations volunteers are talking about different aspects of Luther and reformation impact. Continue reading Calling speakers, calling hosts
German(ic) bibles before Luther
Anyone who has heard me speak about Luther’s bible translation will know that he was not the first person to translate the Bible into German. Bringing together Germanic languages, including the variants found in the territories we now know as Switzerland, Austria, and the Low Countries, we might count as many as 18 different bible texts in circulation before Luther’s first complete Bible (and this is without counting variant editions of Luther’s own interim work). The following discussion highlights some significant printed bibles whose translations pre-date Luther’s first published version of the book of Ruth (published in Der Ander Teyl, 1524). Continue reading Before Luther: Germanic Bibles on the net
As one whose university career began in the 1990s, I cannot fail to appreciate the ways in which digital resources are constantly evolving and extending. The breadth of data collated within this study would have been impossible without the many digitisation projects, and the growth of Open Access collections.
When I wrote Continue reading Early Modern Bibles on the net
Last month, the Church of England’s governing body, General Synod, met in York.* Alongside conversion therapy and rites of passage for transgender people, the agenda also included a change to rules on what clergy wear during services, including special occasions like weddings and funerals.
At present, all C of E clergy are legally required to wear traditional robes, a mode of dress little changed since the question of suitable clothing was debated in the mid-sixteenth century. The new ruling empowers brides, grooms and mourners to make a decision on the vicar’s dress.** The change is not immediate: as with other national laws, the Queen has to give her royal assent. Continue reading Choosing the vicar’s wedding dress