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Teaching to Hate in Early Modern Europe: The Propagation of Hatred through Vernacular Print

 goya long

Date: 13 September 2013
Time: 9.00am-6.00pm
Venue:The David Sizer Lecture Theatre, The Bancroft Building, QMUL Mile End Campus
Inquiries and RSVP: Francois Soyer at francois.soyer@adelaide.edu.au
Registration is free but RSVP is required.

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The invention of the printing press in the middle of the 15th-century revolutionised the production and  dissemination of ideas across Europe. Books and pamphlets were produced in hundreds and thousands of copies. The development of vernacular literacy amongst the laity between 1450 and 1800 meant that there was a new and expanding readership. A far less studied aspect of the printing revolution in early modern Europe has been the appearance of “hate literature” printed vernacular languages that aimed at reaching new audiences and spreading fear and hatred against religious, sexual and ethnic dissenters. Medieval treatises and polemics had been written in Latin by churchmen and with a readership limited to fellow churchmen. With the invention of the printing press, an ever growing number of polemical works were written and published in the vernacular and aimed at a new kind of reader: the increasingly literate laymen of Europe’s burgeoning towns. These works, which would today be categorised as “hate literature”, deliberately sought to instigate or sustain moral panics directed against marginal groups: Jews, Muslims, different Christian denominations, alleged witches and homosexuals. Martin Luther’s notorious antisemitic treatise Von den Jüden und jren Lügen is probably the most famous example of this literature but there existed a great number of others workes across Europe. Examples include works such as the Centinela contra judios of Friar Francisco de Torrejoncillo (first published in 1674, with at least twelve editions) or Manuel Sanz’s Tratado breve contra la secta mahometana (1693) in Spain and Henry Holland’s A Treatise against Witchcraft (1590) or Andrew Marvell’s An Account of the growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government (1677) in England.

This one-day conference seeks to gather scholars whose research is on countries and kingdoms from across early modern Europe to examine the following questions:
• How important was vernacular “hate literature” in early modern Europe?
• How did authors seek to inspire hatred and fear amongst a lay audience with a limited education?
• How much did such works owe to medieval polemics?
• Why were certain groups specifically targeted?
• Are there similarities between “hate literature” produced in different regions?
• Who read such works and why?