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July 16 , 2009

The Sacralization of Space and Behavior in the Early Modern World

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In the Early Modern period - as both reformed and Catholic churches strove to articulate orthodox belief and conduct through texts, sermons, rituals, and images - communities grappled frequently with the connection between sacred space and behavior. The Sacralization of Space and Behavior in the Early Modern World explores individual and community involvement in the approbation, reconfiguration and regulation of sacred spaces and the behavior (both animal and human) within them. The individual’s understanding of sacred space, and consequently the behavior appropriate within it, depended on local need, group dynamics, and the dissemination of normative expectations. While these expectations were defined in a growing body of confessionalizing literature, locally and internationally traditional clerical authorities found their decisions contested, circumvented, or elaborated in order to make room for other stakeholders’ activities and needs. To clearly reveal the efforts of early modern groups to negotiate authority and the transformation of behavior with sacred space, this collection presents examples that allow the deconstruction of these tensions and the exploration of the resulting campaigns within sacred space.

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Based on new archival research the eleven chapters in this collection examine diverse aspects of the campaigns to transform Christian behavior within a variety of types of sacred space and through a spectrum of media. These essays give voice to the arguments, exhortations, and accusations that surrounded the activities taking place in early modern sacred space and reveal much about how people made sense of these transformations.

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