June 22nd - 24th 2023
Herrengarten 3
AH - A 217/218

International conference in the context of the CRC 1472 „Transformations of the popular” at the university of Siegen

The CRC 1472 „Transformations of the popular” at the university of Siegen proposes the following central hypothesis: The transformations of the popular, which began in Europe around 1800, sharpened the distinction between low culture and high culture. During the course of the 20th century a competitive distinction between the popular and the non-popular became dominant. The popular has, in fact, become a very important feature of cultural self-understanding in the globalised present. The purpose of the CRC is to devise a theory of the popular that accounts for this development. The CRC understands the transformations of the popular in the following ways: On the one hand, society is transformed by the growing role of the popular; on the other hand, the understanding of what is regarded as popular and why it attracts attention is transformed. These transformations reverse the burden of proof of what should become popular or remain unpopular. High culture has come under increasing pressure to justify its unpopularity or to popularise its alleged elitism. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain why something that is popular should not deserve attention.

The conference focuses on the potential for conflicts that those developments included in the field of religion in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically, the conference considers the so-called "Revival Movements" that attempted the theological self-empowerment of Christian laymen and laywomen. Defying the resistance of the academic theology and traditional churches, those movements – also called "pietism" – have spread transnationally since the 19th century.



14:00 – 14:30

Welcome and intro­duc­tion


Panel 1: Groups and Awakening

14:30 – 15:15

Diethard Sawicki (Güters­loh/DE): „But who else than masonry would be better suited as a strong educa­tor of real child­ren of Christ?“ Consi­de­ra­ti­ons on the Rela­ti­on­ship between Free­ma­sonry and Awake­ning in Central Europe


15:15 – 16:00

Wita­lij Moro­sow (St. Peters­burg/RU): Moscow Marti­nists as Distri­bu­tors of Alche­mi­cal Lite­ra­ture: Texts Networks, Prohi­bi­ti­ons


16:00 – 16:30

Coffee break


16:30 – 17:15

Yan Suar­sana (Bremen/DE): Of culture and (Indian) Nation: The Mukti Revi­val in Colo­nial Discourse


17:15 – 18:00

Susanne Kokel (Siegen/DE): To be or not to be an Entre­pre­neur – Conflicts in the Mora­vian Church





Panel 2: Agents between conflict and empowerment

09:00 – 09:45

Laura Popa (Cambridge/UK): „Basta studiere la Bibbia“: Revi­ved Protes­tan­tism and (Self-) Empo­w­er­ment of Lay-women in Italy, 1860-1915


09:45 – 10:30

Ruth Albrecht (Hamburg/DE): Conflict Area Evan­ge­lism. Contro­ver­sies about Lay Prea­chers in the 19th century


10:30 – 11:00

Coffee break


11:00 – 11:45

Jakob Dahl­backa (Turku/FI): Between the hammer and the anvil, or: the peril of being a colpor­teur in 19th-century Finland


11:45 – 12:30
Thomas Ijew­ski (Freu­den-berg/DE): From Anabap­tists to an Hono­rary Docto­rate in Theo­logy – 200 Years of Lay-Theo­logy in Freu­den­berg as a Model for the Sieger­land Awake­ning


12:30 – 14:00

Lunch break


Panel 3: (Lay-) Theology

14:00 – 14:45

Grazia Dolo­res Folliero-Metz (Siegen/DE): Jung-Stil­ling`s After­life visi­ons and William Blake`s Dante illus­tra­ti­ons. A para­dig­ma­tic compa­ra­tive analy­sis


15:00 – 20:00

Excur­sion to Freu­den­berg

Dinner in Freu­den­berg


09:00 – 09:45

Johan Smits (Amster­dam/NL): Linking up to acade­mia: theo­lo­gi­cal jour­nals as gate­ways for non-acade­mic schol­ar­ship


09:45 – 10:30

Cat Ashton (Toronto/CA): Reve­la­tion Remix: The Ascend­ance of Premill­en­nial Dispen­sa­ti­o­na­lism


10:30 – 11:00

Coffee break


11:00 – 12:00

Final discus­sion


Diethard Sawicki

"But who else than masonry would be better suited as a strong educator of real children of Christ?" Considerations on the Relationship between Freemasonry and Awakening in Central Europe, c. 1790-1830

Starting point of this paper is the observation that many protagonists of the awakening were freemasons and seem to have had a vivid interest in the arcane side of masonry as represented by the theosophical mysticism of L. C. de Saint Martin. Freemasons, frequently quite outspoken adherents of this "illuminisme", were not only to be found among awakened religious virtuosi like Matthias Claudius or Johann Friedrich von Meyer, but also among today less known protestant clergymen and in the Bible Societies where freemasons often held leading positions. These religious activsts had to deal with the question what it meant to be a Christian and a freemason at the same time. In fact, to be part of an esoteric order that promised to be the shrine of higher transcendental knowledge touched upon the problem of the own position within the general community of believers. This dissonance could be perceived as a problem of high/low distinction. Archival documents from masonic lodges, speeches held in lodges, and other contemporary sources reveal how protagonists of the awakening reconciled and ranked being a Christian and a Freemason at the same time. The findings may open up new general perspectives on the emergence and inner structure of the religious awakening in the German-speaking territories around 1800.

Wita­lij Moro­sow

Moscow Martinists as Providers of Alchemical Philosophy in the Russian Empire: Texts, Networks, Prohibitions

The presentation will focus on the place of the alchemy in the writings of Martinists from the circle of Nikolai I. Novikov (1744–1818) and Semyon Gamaleya (1743–1822), who worked pre-dominantly in the area of the Moscow Governorate in the Russian Empire. One of the most sig-nificant projects that Novikov wanted to carry out as a book producer was the so-called Hermetic Library – the first multi-volume collection of alchemical literature, which was translated into the Russian language in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, but never published. The work exists in two different versions. The Moscow collection comprises 49 volumes of manuscripts and is now located in the Russian State Library in Moscow, while the second collection is locat-ed in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg and contains only 35 volumes. The realiza-tion of the project of the first Russian alchemical library was made possible due to close rela-tions between Martinists and Prussian Rosicrucians, who organized access to old alchemical edi-tions for their Russian spiritual brothers.
Relations with noble families from Wolfenbüttel and Berlin played the most important role in the intellectual exchange between Russian Martinists and German Rosicrucians. The Novikov’s circle was in contact with the pastor Johann Christof von Woellner (1732–1800), who repre-sented Ferdinand of Braunschweig (1721–1792) and was active as a statesman under Friedrich Wilhelm II (1744–1797). The majority of the religious-philosophical writings that were im-portant for the Russian Martinist movement primarily dealt with questions of Christian religiosi-ty with regard to the foundations of German pietism and natural philosophy. However, the very contacts of the Novikov’s circle to Prussian political leaders could not be observed as a kind of inoffensive philosophical exchange. Catherine II of Russia (1729–1796) saw them as a political danger, so that the majority of translations by Russian Martinists, including the Hermetic Library, was not published. There are only a few editions with treatises by alchemist such as Paracelsus (1493–1541), Isaac Hollandus (17th century), Anton Josef Kirchweger († 1746) and others that Novikov managed to publish. Eventually, the group of translators of alchemical literature into Russian was persecuted and it was even ordered to intern Nikolai Novikov as the producer of the unwanted literature in the Schlüsselburg Fortress.
The questions to be answered during the presentation are: how could it happen that alchemy became important for Russians in the 18th century and why were they persecuted for translating Hermetic literature? In order to answer these questions, various sources are to be examined that make it possible to explain the intellectual constellation in the Russian Empire at that time.

Yan Suar­sana

Of Culture and (Indian) Nation: The Mukti Revival in Colonial Discourse

The revival movement located in Pune’s Mukti Mission is usually interpreted as one of the starting points of the Indian Pentecostal movement. This even more, since with Pandita Ramabai (1858–1922), a prominent native woman emerged as the authoritative figure of the revival there, who had previously attracted international attention not only as a champion of women’s rights in India but also as an anti-colonial activist. The Mukti Revival in the years 1905 to 1907 can therefore also be placed in the context of anti-colonial resistance. This can be shown especially in the discourses of the mission’s magazine, the Mukti Prayer Bell. Here, Ramabai understands the revival as the awakening of a decidedly Indian form of Christianity – as a form of piety contradicting the ‘high culture’ of the Western missionaries and therefore giving expression to the true ‘Indian nature’. Against this reading, other voices clearly rejected this interpretation because of the ‘inappropriate’ practices of the revivalists, finally silencing Ramabai’s own voice. Against this background, the reception of the Mukti Revival can be read as a negotiation process of popular culture, which can be placed within the larger framework of colonial hierarchical models of culture and civilization.

Susanne Kokel

To be or not to be an Entrepreneur – Conflicts in the Moravian Church

The Moravian Church relied from the beginning of her existence in the first half of the 18th century on private and common business as it proved to secure independance and growth of the pietist community irrespectively of the small number of members. The legitimacy of this way of finance – unique among churches – had never been really questioned within the church. Both tradition and rules aiming at securing compatibility with the religious life had led to an overall approval. At the end of the 19th century however, the concept of a church entrepreneurship seemed to be more and more challenged, though firstly only by singular parishes, members and non-members, resulting in conflicts with the leading persons and boards of the Moravian church in Germany. References to free churches or religious groups evolving from the so called Revival movements hint at a strong influence from outwards, for which the Moravian church was receptive, not only due to her participation in Protestant networks but also inevitably through her activities among non-members, the diaspora work. The proposed contribution to the conference aims at a deeper understanding of this process which reflected presumably a thorough change in the theological assessment not only of church finance but also of church entrepreneurship mainly brought forward by a layity. Who were the acteurs with a considerable influence in this question and which role did free churches play, which had evolved in Germany only in the course of the 19th century? Which were the reactions within the Moravian church and which long-term changes were initiated? Finally, widening the perspective, it is to be asked whether these conflicts in the Moravian church did not also reflect a general development towards secularisation in the sense of a stricter separation between church and economy.

Laura Popa

“Basta studiare la Bibbia”: Revived Protestantism and (Self-)Empowerment of Laywomen in Italy, 1860-1915

Over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the so-called religious awakenings (re-)shaped the domestic sphere and public life, particularly in Protestant Great Britain and the United States. Women played a key role by engaging in various forms of activism, such as anti-slavery, anti prostitution, pro-temperance, and teaching and preaching despite resistance from male clergy. However, little is known about how laywomen in Catholic countries across Europe experienced revivalism. This archival-research-based paper focusing on a converted Waldensian, Giuseppina Pusterla, argues that theological changes made under Swiss revivalist influence in the Waldensian Valleys in the 1830s and 1840s led to an ambiguous form of (self-)empowerment of laywomen during the second half of the century. The goal of this study is two-fold. First, the paper shows that the institutionalized Waldensian Church accommodated women such as Pusterla, who did not have any theological training and did not view herself as a theologian but performed the function of Bible Woman in Milan as part of the new Church´s popular piety. Yet with its own Faculty of Theology and ordained male-only priesthood, the Church resisted women´s theological studies and ordination until the second half of the twentieth century. Secondly, the study aims at demonstrating how laywomen challenged both Protestant and Catholic high culture yet without subverting the official gender hierarchy in Church. By preaching to men, Puterla unintentionally transgressed the Waldensian doctrine that preaching is the sole responsibility of male authority based on a theological complementary view. At the same time, Pusterla deliberately challenged the authority of the Catholic clergy by reading and explaining the Bible in Italian to the popular masses. It is argued that by practicing a revivalist approach to Bible and Christianity, Italian Protestant laywomen were able to find new roles and challenge gender norms in Church and society, just as their counterparts in the global revivalist Protestant nineteenth century

Ruth Albrecht

Conflict Area Evangelism: Controversies about Lay Preachers in the 19th Century

The origins of the 19th century evangelism movement can be traced back to the early 18th cen-tury. Preachers started with new forms of preaching outside church premises in England and the USA. In doing so they primarily aimed at addressing demographic groups that were not reached by the churches, such as miners. In the German-speaking world growing indicators of an in-creasing interest in the phenomenon of evangelism can be found by the end of the 19th century. While the majority of churches were initially reluctant to accommodate formats and content that had not been in use until then, it was mainly the groups that had emerged from the revival movements that made intensive efforts to gain acceptance for evangelistic campaigns. The con-flicts between churches and new movements were mainly provoked by the following elements, which were usually connected with evangelism: The use of non-church spaces such as restau-rants, dance halls or tents was central. The preaching was reduced to a few descriptive contents focusing the person of Jesus. The songs and the musical arrangement with singers, choirs, har-monium or trombones were based on Anglo-American models. Among the most controversial methods of holding evangelistic meetings was the direct call for immediate conversion - often combined with a certain amount of emotional pressure.
A major area of conflict arose from the participation of male and female lay people for qualified theologians of the free churches and the groupings of the devotional movements acting as evan-gelists initially. At this point, there was no common agreement among the actors involved in the acceptance of evangelism. The Gnadauer Gemeinschaftsverband, founded in 1887, was estab-lished specifically for the purpose of organizing evangelistic campaigns by lay people in an or-derly manner. However, the idea of establishing a new evangelist ministry referred only to men. In 1899, on the other hand, the Deutschen Gemeinschafts-Diakonieverbandes was founded with the goal of also training women for evangelism. This lecture will be dealing with the field of conflict outlined here on the basis of selected examples.

Jakob Dahlbacka

Between the hammer and the anvil, or: the peril of being a colporteur in 19th-century Finland

In the latter part of the 19th century, the Lutheran state church in Finland was forced to retreat from several societal areas it had previously dominated. An inevitable consequence was that the clergy – who had occupied the role of pillars and authorities of society for centuries – gradually lost their self-appointed and prominent position. For instance, at the Diet, one of the four estates that until then had consisted only of priests was enlarged to welcome university personnel and other senior teachers. Around the same time, the Church lost responsibility for the school system in Finland. Ironically, the priests were also challenged in the spiritual domain. This appeared most clearly through the abolition of the so-called Conventicle Act in 1870 and the inclusion of the venia concionandi paragraph in the Church Law, which gave laypeople the right to preach.
My paper focuses on the shift in power relations that took place in the spiritual sphere, with revivalist movements and their representatives establishing themselves at the expense of the state church by challenging the authority of church officials. This shift was not carried out without friction.
I do so by examining the previously unpublished autobiography or spiritual journey by Gustaf Roos (1846–1918). Roos was one of the very first colporteurs both in Finland and in what was later to become the Evangelical revival movement. As a colporteur, he traveled the country selling religious books and preaching. His autobiography is extensive, consisting of some 1313 handwritten pages divided into 13 booklets and covering practically all of his life. Thus, and most importantly, his account coincides with the dynamic period I have described above. It gives a testimony of the hardships and the conflict-ridden work of the early colporteurs, who – in a way – ended up working “between the hammer and the anvil” or between the elite and the popular. It provides an unusual first-hand insight into the tug-of-war between religious high and low culture.

Thomas Ijewski

From Anabaptists to an Honorary Doctorate in Theology–200 Years of Lay-theology in Freudenberg as a Model for the Siegerland Awakening

In the year 1930 Walter Alfred Siebel, a leather-manufacturer in the small town of Freudenberg near Siegen, was awarded an honorary doctorate in theology from Münster University. He never studied but published several tracts on controversial dogmatic and ecclesiological topics. As a merchant he was a renowned religious leader, not only around Siegen, but in the whole country of Germany.

About one hundred years earlier, another member of this family, Tillmann Siebel, as a tannery-owner also a layman, was the unrivaled leader of the Siegerland Awakening. With him the town Freudenberg became the center of this movement.
Several disputes with the local pastor on the one hand, and approval by high representatives of the state church in Prussia on the other hand contributed to his almost legendary reputation (“he was the father of the Christian life” in the Siegen region and “saved the ‘Volkskirche’ in this area”). As a means of the movement, he founded a magazine, which is still published regularly in this county.

In the middle of the 18th century a group of several laymen in Freudenberg read Boehme and immediately found themselves in conflicts with the clergy. Books were confiscated, and when the members were summoned, they already showed the lack of respect for the professional theologian with their clothing.

Finally, in 1730 we even find evidence of anabaptism, again in the town Freudenberg – an
early proof of anti-clerical opposition in this parish.

With this diachronic approach in the timespan of 200 years and with the example of the parish of Freudenberg as its center, it shall be shown what led to the specific structure of the Siegerland revival in contrast to the other revival in Westphalia, the Minden-Ravensberg awakening: “In Minden-Ravensberg awakening came because of the pastors, in the Siegerland awakening came in spite of the pastors”.

Grazia Dolores Folliero-Metz

Jung Stilling‘s Afterlife visions and William Blake‘s Dante illustrations. A paradigmatic comparative analysis

In this contribution we will study the literary and artistic implications of some textual passages of J. Stilling, reconnecting them to the dominant aesthetics of his time, i.e. to the aesthetics of Romanticism.
The vision of the afterlife narrated by Stilling's grandfather in Heinrich Stillings Jugend, and the souls or angels described in the passage Die Pietisten within Stilling’s Szenen aus dem Geisterreich, can be easily compared first with the general interest of pre-Romantic and Romantic aesthetics for the dreamlike (see for example J. H. Füssli) , and specifically with Dante's illustrations by William Blake. In fact, both Blake's illustrations of the Divine Comedy and the passage Die Pietisten deal with angels and souls in combination with otherworldly destinies.
Following Italian studies on German Pietism (L. Mittner 1964), and Stilling's literary reception in Italy, influenced by his acquaintance with Goethe (O. Ferrari 1949), we intend to examine Stilling as an author of Romantic sensibility, seeking analogies with some of his contemporaries. This perspective of work therefore reevaluates Stilling's cultural belonging to his time, starting from the hypothesis that precisely Stilling's responsivity to the questions and needs of his days allowed a strong reception of his reforming and innovative message by the public.

Johan (J.C.) Smits

Linking up to academia: theological journals as gateways for non-academic scholarship

In the modern and premodern era, religious elites were not only defined by the distinction between laity and clergy, but also by the distinction between academic theologians and those outside the university. The rise of the scholarly journal in the nineteenth century created platforms which facilitated the cooperation between academic theologians and scholars from outside. Although these journals were a part of processes of academic professionalization, and thus aimed at those related to the universities, they could not dispense with non-academic scholars.
In my PhD-project ‘Nations and the life of mind’, I studied the development between 1820 and 1870 of five academic journals by means of social network analysis. In my contribution, I want to showcase the results of this method concerning the interaction between academic and non-academic scholars. The focus will be on four journals which were related to the so-called movement of mediating theology (Vermittlungstheologie). The fates of these journals show both the fluid character and the persistence of high-low distinctions on an intellectual level.
The paper will conclude with discussion of a few non-academic, but very frequent contributors (to be decided, but will likely include a selection of the following scholars: Gottlieb Christian Friedrich Mohnike (1781-1841), Peter Wilhelm Hoßbach (1784-1841), Georg Eduard Steitz (1810-1879), Ernst Valentin Rudolph Baxmann (1832-1869) and Julius Hamberger (1801-1885)). These instances of transcending the high-low-distinction will be used to substantiate the claim that involving non-academic scholars facilitated an increasing diversity of voices in theological discourse.

Cat Ashton

Revelation Remix: The Ascendance of Premillennial Dispensationalism

Dispensationalism, which posits that the Bible separates human history into different periods or “dispensations,” began in nineteenth-century England as a fringe evangelical Christian movement. By the end of the twentieth century, premillennial dispensationalism in particular had seized the American evangelical imagination to the point where its interpretation of the Book of Revelation dominates popular culture, even among non-Christians, in ways that have implications for American political culture, foreign policy, and day-to-day life.
While studies on the history of premillennial dispensationalism exist, and after the publication of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth in 1970 its position in culture is well documented, to my knowledge no one has focused on premillennial dispensationalism’s entrance into the mainstream American imagination before that time. Through the use of history texts by Paul Boyer, Daniel Wojcik, and Mark Noll; books of evangelical Christian theology by Tim LaHaye and Francis Schaeffer; and creative works from Sidney Watson’s trilogy and John Burroughs’ Titan, Son of Saturn through to Salem Kirban’s 666 and 1000, the proposed paper seeks to trace the development and popularization of premillennial dispensationalism, and its enmeshing with broader evangelical culture and popular culture, during the early decades of the twentieth century.