Susan Karant-Nunn

About Susan Karant-Nunn

My research focuses on the social and cultural history of early modern Europe, with emphasis on the German-speaking lands during the Reformation. My interdisciplinary research on the religious history of early modern Europe (1400-1800) illuminates questions that remain urgent today. Beginning with late-medieval religious and social ferment and producing the sixteenth-century Protestant reformer Martin Luther, the Reformation sparked both local and international conflicts. Religious ferment led to wars and the emigration of thousands seeking to escape persecution. My work sheds light on the deeper, multiple causes and effects of efforts to define a true faith.

As director of the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies, I supervise graduate students interested in this period. Along with Oberman Professor Ute Lotz-Heumann, I teach the so-called “Division Seminar” that forms the backbone of the Division’s graduate program. Previous seminars under my direction have featured sixteenth-century Strasbourg, literacy in early modern Europe, Anabaptism, gender relations and the family, clergy and preaching in the Reformation era, and the emotions. My seminar during spring semester 2010 will study late medieval and early modern education.

I also regularly teach courses designed for advanced undergraduates, such as surveys of the Reformation and the Renaissance. History 396, seminars for History majors, have concentrated on European women from 1100 to 1700, and on the European “witch craze” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

I am currently writing a monograph on Martin Luther’s body. The Wittenberg Reformer left a quantity of autobiographic material distributed throughout his vast opus, even in the most abstruse theological treatises. I offer a critique of the current theory of Ego-Documents, which holds that intellectual treatises do not bear witness to the self of the author. In all his writings, Luther is enormously forthright, personal, and astonishingly concrete, often discussing his own body and using corporeal metaphors. I hope to have a book manuscript on this subject completed not later than 2015, for appearance during the Reformation Jubilee of 2017.

Publications Include


The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany. London: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, December 2009.

The Reformation of Ritual: An Interpretation of Early Modern Germany. London and New York : Routledge, 1997. Winner of the 1998 Roland H. Bainton Book Prize in History and Theology, Sixteenth Century Studies Conference.

Zwickau in Transition: The Reformation as an Agent of Change Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1987.

Luther’s Pastors: The Reformation in the Ernestine Countryside. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1979.

Volumes Edited

Coedited with Scott H. Hendrix, Masculinity in the Reformation Era. Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 83. Kirksville, Mo: Truman State University Press, 2008.

Editor, Varieties of Devotion in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance 7. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003.

Coedited with Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks. Luther on Women: A Sourcebook. Cambridge and New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Coedited with Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Katherine G. Brady, and James D. Tracy. The Work of Heiko A. Oberman: Papers from a Symposium on his Seventieth Birthday. Leiden : Brill, 2002.

Coedited with Andrew C. Fix. Germania Illustrata: Essays in Honor of Gerald Strauss. Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 18. Kirksville , Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1992.

Selected Articles and Chapters

“Is There a Social History of the Holy Roman Empire?” in The Holy Roman Emprie, 1495-1806. Edited by RJW Evans, Lyndal Roper, Michael Schaich and Peter H. Wilson (London, Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2009).

“Babies, Baptism, Bodies, Burials and Bliss: Ghost Stories and Their Rejection in the Late Sixteenth Century.” In Tod und Jenseits in der Schriftkultur der Frühen Neuzeit. [Death and Views of the Hereafter in the Written Culture of the Early Modern Era]. Edited by Marion Kobelt-Groch and Cornelia Niekus More, Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 119. (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrosowitz Verlag, 2008), 11-22.

“Die Reformation des Rituals und ihre visuellen Effekte in Sakralraum.” [“The Reformation of Ritual and its Visual Effects in Sacred Space”] In Topographien des Sakralen: Religion und Raumordnung in der Vormoderne. [Topography of the Sacred: Religion and the Ordering of Space in Pre-Modern Times] Edited By Susanne Rau and Gerd Schwerhoff (Munich and Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz Verlag, 2008), 90-102.

“Martin Luther’s Masculinity: Theory, Practicality and Humor,” in Masculinity in the Reformation Era, 167-189.

“Reformation und Askese: Das Pfarrhaus als evangelisches Kloster” [“The Reformation and Asceticism: The Parsonage as an Evangelical Cloister”] in Kommunication und Transfer im Christentum der Frühen Neuzeit.[ Communication and Transference in Early Modern Christianity] Edited by Irene Dingel and Wolf-Friedrich Schäufele, Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäischen Geschichte 174 (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2008), 211-228.

“Catholic Intensity in Post-Reformation Germay: Preaching on the Passion and Catholic Identity in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.” In Politics and Reformations: Studies in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr. edited by Christopher Ocker, Michael Printy, Peter Starenko and Peter Wallace (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 373-396.

“‘Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me, and Forbid them Not’: The Social Location of Baptism in Early Modern Germany.” in Continuity and Change:The Harvest of Late Medieval and Reformation History: Studies in honor of Heiko A. Oberman on his Seventieth Birthday. Edited by Andrew C. Gow and Robert J. Bast. (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 359-378.

“Reformation Society, Women and the Family” in The Reformation World. Edited by Andrew Pettegree (London and New York: Routledge), 433-460.

“What was Preached in German Cities in the Early Years of the Reformation?: Wildwuchs versus Lutheran Unity,” in, The Process of Change in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of Miriam Usher Chrisman. Edited by Sherrin Marshall and Phillip Bebb. (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1988), 81-96. Reprinted in The Reformation: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. Edited by Andrew Pettegree. 4 Vols. (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), vol. 1: 41-54.

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Contact Information

Susan Karant-Nunn
Regents' Professor of History
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Department of History
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