From Incense to Idolatry: The Reformation of Olfaction in Late Medieval German Ritual

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article builds on recent advances in sensory anthropology to examine the significance of smell in late medieval and early Reformation ritual. It argues that late medieval ritual reflected and reinforced the power of smell to affect senses of boundary demarcation and transition between bodies, the world, and the divine. By removing incense from their rituals, early Reformers challenged this paradigm, effectively desacralizing the sense of smell. In many everyday contexts, its traditional associations persisted, but for early Reformers, smell no longer mediated between the human and the divine. The argument is developed by establishing how smells were embedded in the late medieval mundane and religious contexts, and then by demonstrating how Reformers rejected certain aspects of this paradigm, while retaining others. It demonstrates this in theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-344
JournalSixteenth Century Journal
StatePublished - Jul 30 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'From Incense to Idolatry: The Reformation of Olfaction in Late Medieval German Ritual'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this