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Sites of Change in Reformation England

'Sites of Change' was a one day conference at the University of Warwick, organised by myself and my colleague Jonathan Willis. It was held on 23rd February 2008 and was part of the requirement of winning the 2007 Warwick HRC Doctoral Fellowship Competition. The conference was generously funded by the Humanities Research Centre and the Economic History Society, plus sponsorship from publishers including Ashgate, Boydell and OUP.

The conference explored the ways in which people adapted to religious change in Reformation-era England, recognising at the outset the diversity of the overlapping religious cultures that sheltered under the broad umbrella of English Popular Religion. It considered how the same physical and intellectual environment could give rise to such a disparate range of relgious identities, and investigated some of the shared sites and cultural practices that contributed to this process.

Both Jonathan and I rely on the techniques and insights provided by a wide range of academic disciplines, and share an awareness that early modern Christians received their religious education by means of all their senses. Thus the conference was conceived as a multi-disciplinary event, featuring papers from a range of distinct yet complementary arts, including Literary Studies, Musicology, Art History and History. The 'Sites' of the title therefore referred to the senses, disciplines, physical spaces and intellectual concepts which contributed to the full range of individual religious experience. The conference was well attended with around sixty delegates, including established scholars and postgraduates students. It gave different disciplinary practioners the opportunity to co-operate with each other in an attempt to further illuminate the mental universe of the early modern laity.

Below is the programme for the day, showing the speakers and their papers:


Keynote (Chair: Professor Peter Marshall)

  • Professor Alexandra Walsham (Exeter): The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Memory and Legend in Early Modern Britain


First Panel (Chair: Dr. Beat Kumin)

  • Dr. Roger Bowers (Cambridge) The Parish Church Chancel and its Reformation Depopulation

  • Dr. Anne Dillon (Cambridge) 'They judge the place to terror framed by art': Elizabethan Catholic Images of Martydom


Second Panel (Chair: Professor Bernard Capp)

  • Professor Brian Cummings (Sussex) Shakespeare and the Place of Religion

  • Dr. Tara Hamling (Birmingham) Designs for Godly Living: Image and Object in the Protestant Domestic Interior


Plenary (Chair: Professor Steve Hindle)

  • Comment from Professor Patrick Collinson



Sites of Change Poster

Plenary Session (l-r): Roger Bowers, Anne Dillon, Steve Hindle, Patrick Collinson, Alexandra Walsham, Tara Hamling, Brian Cummings.

 Tea break (l-r): Patrick Collinson, Peter Mack, Brain Cummings, Peter Marshall.