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How have religious faith and experience motivated people in the past, and how do they continue to influence people today?
Our work emphasizes the variety and diversity of religious expressions, including the Protestant and Catholic divisions in post-Reformation Christianity, the relationship between religion, the state and politics, new religious movements and the philosophical basis for faith and religion.
The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History holds major archives and art collections, produces a journal, Wesley and Methodist Studies, and hosts regular conferences.
Our academic staff have published very widely on topics such as sacred space, witchcraft in the early modern period, religion and the state in the eighteenth century, Methodism in the eighteenth century, theological responses to Nazism, religion and psychoanalysis, the material and visual cultures of religion, blasphemy, and secularism.
Current research projects include the eighteenth century church and sex, the religious culture of Europe in the seventeenth century, and Freud and feminism.
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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483484
Professor Dillinger received his doctorate from Trier University. He taught at Trier University, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Georgetown University, Stanford University, and Nehru University (New Delhi). In 2000 and 2001 Dillinger worked as a Visiting Resarch Fellow at the German Historical Institute, Washington DC. Dillinger received both elite scholarships of the German Research Foundation (Noether and Heisenberg). Mainz University granted him an honorary professorship.
Dillinger is mainly interested in early modern history. He is currently working on the history of early modern terrorism, the cult of relics and a microstudy of a border community between France and Germany.
Main research interests include:
The Routledge History of Witchcraft is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of the belief in witches from antiquity to the present day, providing both an introduction to the subject of witchcraft and an overview of the on-going debates.
This extensive collection covers the entire breadth of the history of witchcraft, from the witches of Ancient Greece and medieval demonology through to the victims of the witch hunts, and onwards to children’s books, horror films, and modern pagans. Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of an international team of authors, the book examines differing concepts of witchcraft that still exist in society and explains their historical, literary, religious, and anthropological origin and development, including the reflections and adaptions of this belief in art and popular culture. The volume is divided into four chronological parts, beginning with Antiquity and the Middle Ages in Part One, Early Modern witch hunts in Part Two, modern concepts of witchcraft in Part Three, and ending with an examination of witchcraft and the arts in Part Four. Each chapter offers a glimpse of a different version of the witch, introducing the reader to the diversity of witches that have existed in different contexts throughout history.
Exploring a wealth of texts and case studies and offering a broad geographical scope for examining this fascinating subject, The Routledge History of Witchcraft is essential reading for students and academics interested in the history of witchcraft.
The rise of treasure hunting as a typical element of popular magic in the 15th century coincided with the beginnings of dowsing. Treasure hunters did not rely on the divining rod exclusively, they also used a variety of charms addressing the spirit world. In contrast to that, miners who used the divining rod treated it more like a technical instrument in a modern sense. With the success of mining as a motor of technical and economical innovation, the divining rod enjoyed a breath-taking career. In the 18th century, it had become the divinatory object par excellence that could be used to find virtually anything. The 19th century witnessed the breakdown of the traditional magico-religious treasure hunt. Instead of trying to talk to the spirit world in order to find treasures, treasure hunters became interested in historical narratives that provided clues which helped to discover hidden or lost objects. Even though dowsing was eliminated from professional mining, it managed to survive. The very fact that dowsing was largely non-communicative – it was even claimed that the ability to dowse depended entirely on the individual, inner and non-transferable qualities of the dowser – seemed to be the key to its continuing success in the area of fringe science and fringe medicine. Only in recent years, the new interest in spirituality combined dowsing and the use of incantations again.
About half of all the women and men ever executed for witchcraft were German. Friedrich Spee, the great German opponent of the witch hunts, was right when he called Germany “the mother of so many the witches”. 1 Almost 25,000 people were executed for witchcraft in the German lands. Why about 50% of all the executions for witchcraft took place in Germany even though only about 20% of the total population of early modern Europe lived there is the basic question this chapter tries to answer. 2 An analysis of the catastrophic German witch hunts might help us to understand the basic patterns of witchcraft persecutions in general.
First, this chapter explores political violence in the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era. Even though the term “terrorism” did not exist before the French Revolution, political phenomena that closely resembled various forms of modern day terrorism were known and feared since the fourteenth century. The late Middle Ages and the early modern period witnessed the assassinations of numerous princes. The authorities as well as the populace feared organized gangs of criminals in the pay of rival political or religious leaders. These gangs were said to attack the civilian population using arson and mass poisoning in order to destabilize whole states. The fear of the terrorist “state destroyer” was part and parcel of state building from its very beginning. Secondly, the chapter discusses nineteenth-century historiography about early modern political violence. Nineteenth-century historians refused to interpret early modern political crime as terrorism: they denounced it either as lacking any political concept, or they vindicated it as justifiable resistance.
Dieser Text möchte einen Überblick über die historische Hexenforschung bieten. Um den Rahmen dieser Veröffentlichung nicht zu sprengen, verzichtet der Text auf eine chronologische Darstellung der Forschungsentwicklung. Vielmehr konzentriert er sich auf die unterschiedlichen Antworten, die auf zwei Kernfragen der Hexenforschung gegeben worden sind: Wieso kam es zu Hexenverfolgungen? Wer waren die Opfer der Verfolgungen? Der Text geht dabei auch auf weit verbreitete Missverständnisse der Geschichte der Hexenverfolgungen ein. Am Ende sollen sehr knapp neueste Ansätze der Hexenforschung skizziert werden. Da der Text Forschungsergebnisse in straffer Form präsentiert, kann er auch als allgemeine Einführung in die Hexenthematik gelesen werden. Um Missverständnissen des schillernden Begriffs ‚Hexerei‘ vorzubeugen, sei hier festgehalten, dass ‚Hexerei‘ streng im Sinn der spätmittelalterlichen Dämonologie definiert wird, die den Hexenverfolgungen zugrunde lag. Hexerei im Vollsinn sollte ein Delikt sein, das aus fünf Teilen bestand: einem Pakt mit dem Teufel, Geschlechtsverkehr mit einem Dämon, dem Flug zum so genannten Hexensabbat, dem Hexensabbat selbst, also einer Zusammenkunft der Hexen einer Region, und schließlich schädigendem Zauber.
Dillinger's PhD thesis, a comparative study of 1300 witch-trials in two German principalities, won the Friedrich Spee Award for outstanding contributions to the historiography of witchcraft and the prize for the best PhD thesis of Trier University. An English translation has been published under the title '"Evil People"A Comparative Study of Witch-Hunts in Swabian Austria and the Electorate of Trier.' Dillinger received the most prestigious scholarships of the German Research Foundation (Noether and Heisenberg) as well as the Andrew Mellow Grant of the Massachusetts Historical Society.