Enlightenment’s Reformation: Recasting German Protestantism, 1770-1830


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project shows how German thinkers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries tried to reconcile their own notions of progress and freedom with the alien and disjointed religious past of the sixteenth-century Reformation. It details the recasting of German Protestantism in the context of the Protestant Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the collapse of the Old Regime, and the rise of Idealism. These thinkers portrayed the Reformation as an incomplete Enlightenment, and sought to secure on the one hand a positive role for religion in the Enlightenment in the face of skeptical, materialist, or deist versions, and on the other to solidify their social and intellectual standing in an overwhelmingly Protestant society in which theology and church resided in almost every aspect of public and private life.