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Over onsWaar vindt u onsprof. dr. S. (Sabrina) Corbellini

prof. dr. S. Corbellini

Rosalind Franklin Fellow - Junior Professor "History of Reading in Premodern Europe"

Vrije Competitie, Cities of Readers: Religious Literacies in the Long Fifteenth Century (2015-2019)

The research project aims to supply a new phase in the scholarly exploration of the "long fifteenth century" (1400-1550), a period characterized by great cultural, political and religious changes: a stronger urbanization, the development of religious observance movements, a growing social mobility accompanied by a rising literacy and an increasing book production. This pivotal period in Dutch and European history will be approached through the study of the participation of lay people in the production and the transmission of religious knowledge by engaging in textual and performative activities. The project will innovatively approach religious knowledge in terms of dynamics, exchanges and negotiations and will consider both individuals and groups ("communities of interpretation", i.e. formal and informal textual communities sharing texts and knowledge) as objects of research.

The research team will consist of two project leaders (Sabrina Corbellini and Bart Ramakers), a postdoc (Margriet Hoogvliet) and two PhD candidates.

For the project website, see

Cost Action IS1301, New Communities of Interpretation: Contexts, Strategies and Processes of Religious Transformation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (2013-2017)

This Action aims to coordinate research activities being currently developed at several European universities and research institutes and create a (virtual) centre of expertise for the study of religious culture in late medieval and early modern Europe, a period traditionally depicted as one of great cultural discontinuity and binary oppositions between learned (Latin) and unlearned (vernacular) and ecclesiastical hierarchy and the lay believers. Challenging stereotypical descriptions of exclusion of lay and non-Latinate people from religious and cultural life the project, this Action will concentrate on the reconstruction of the process of emancipation of the laity and the creation of new communities of interpretations. The Action will therefore analyze patterns of social inclusion and exclusion and examine shifts in hierarchic relations amongst groups, individuals and their languages, casting new yet profoundly historical light on themes of seminal relevance to present-days societies.

See and

European Research Council, ERC Starting Grant (2008-2013)

Holy Writ and Lay Readers: A Social History of Vernacular Bible Translations in the Middle Ages

The European Late Middle Ages, before the Reformation in the 16th century, were witness to a cultural revolution. The ‘traditional’ dichotomy between the categories ‘religious’ and ‘lay’ and ‘Latin’ and ‘vernacular’ dissolved into a more diffuse situation and led to ‘lay emancipation’ characterised by a dramatic increase in the production of vernacular religious texts and, more specifically, by the production and distribution of vernacular Bibles. However, the diffusion of Bible translations across Europe was not homogeneous. Some regions enjoyed several vernacular translations, counting on lenience and even incentives from religious and worldly authorities, while in other regions translation activities, production and distribution were at some point strictly forbidden. This disparity and the patchwork distribution of vernacular Bibles raise questions about the conditions of this late medieval cultural revolution, a key to the understanding of the transition from the medieval to modern world. What were the ‘cultural dynamics’ behind this revolution? Who were the agents of this transformation process? How can the tension be analysed between the desire of the Church to control the distribution of translations and the hunger for direct access to biblical texts by generally literate lay people? The main objective of Holy Writ and Lay Readers is to map out this late medieval cultural revolution by concentrating on one of its most relevant manifestations and to reconstruct its social context by using an experimental research method which combines extensive codicological and bibliographical textual research with a socio-historical approach. The central question will be addressed by focusing on the interaction of social and cultural elements, such as a high degree of urbanisation and susceptibility to the influence of religious movements which, as preliminary research has shown, were strictly connected to the diffusion of religious vernacular texts. The interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary character of the research will be combined with an innovative comparative international (European) perspective.

For the project website, see


Laatst gewijzigd:15 juli 2016 17:45


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