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Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto
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Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum III

November 16 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Noa Yaari (History): “Visual Literacy in History: Multiform Arguments in the Historiography of Early Modern Individualism”

David Robinson (History): “Disputations a la maison: Religious Controversy and Public Opinion in Seventeenth Century Europe”


Noa Yaari (History, York University). Since the late nineteenth century historians of early modern Europe have argued that the human self has a longue durée history, pointing out the factors that influence and reshape it. To explain these changes, they have suggested different models of its structure and the dynamic relationship it has with its environment. A central argument in this historiography points to the rise of ‘individualism’ as a transition from the pre-modern to the modern and post-modern eras, reflecting major shifts in politics, economy and culture. This paper explores the use of arguments that combine verbal text and images in the discourse about the historical self. I term these arguments ‘multiform arguments,’ and offer a new methodology for their systematic analysis, which will benefit a diverse community of scholars who turn to hybrid epistemologies.

David Robinson (History, University of Toronto).  Disputations were a cornerstone of university education throughout medieval and early modern universities. In these disputations, one student would attack a thesis while another defended it. An impartial magister would resolve the debate by summarizing the arguments and declaring a victor. However, by the seventeenth century religious disputations began appearing in new spaces, namely private homes, where lay audiences played an increasingly prominent role in the debate. Both Protestant and Catholic clergy gambled that the simple faith of laypeople might replace an impartial magister and provide a public victory over their blindly partisan rivals. Yet, giving lay people this authority also carried the lasting consequence of giving increased influence to public opinion rather than clerical elites in shaping religious and political controversy. This paper highlights how the relocation of disputation into private homes helped shape the early modern public sphere, particularly in France.
Scheduling Preference


November 16
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm