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Ronald K. Rittgers
Valparaiso University (New Haven, CT 06510-1703)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2007 – 3/31/2008

The Reformation of Suffering: Protestants, Plague, and Misfortune in Early Modern Germany

This project examines how the Protestant Reformation sought to effect a fundamental change in the way early modern Europeans understood and coped with suffering. An essential though understudied part of the Reformation program was the rejection of the late medieval approach to suffering and the development of a new approach in its stead. This project traces the Protestant “reformation of suffering” from its origins in the thought of the major reformers to its actual reception among the common folk. The project is related to two larger themes in recent historiography: the impact of the Reformation on lay piety and popular culture in early modern Europe and the role of the Protestantism in the secularization of western civilization.