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Polemik in den Schriften Melchior Hoffmans: Inszenierungen rhetorischer Streitkultur in der Reformationszeit
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German.
2013 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Polemics in the Writings of Melchior Hoffman : The Staging of Rhetorical Streitkultur (Culture of Conflict) During the Reformation (English)
Abstract [en]

The way in which Reformation conflicts were carried out by the leading clerical Reformers has been studied in depth, but those at the margins of the Reformation have often been neglected. Hence, this thesis examines lay perceptions and manifestations of the ‘rhetorical Streitkultur’ (culture of conflict) through the writings of the furrier and radical reformer Melchior Hoffman.

After an introductory chapter, the second chapter of the study provides a detailed theoretical framework with three main objectives: First, it introduces the concept of the ‘rhetorical Streitkultur,’ in order to more thoroughly describe the manner in which cultural norms and the staging of debates in writing interrelate. Second, the notion of ‘polemics’ is redefined, and its performative nature is stressed. Third, the theoretical part of the dissertation generates a classification system for different types of polemical communication situations: ‘overt’ vs. ‘covert’, and ‘direct’ vs. ‘indirect’.

The analyses of Hoffman’s polemic pamphlets are divided into two sections: Chapter three examines how Hoffman polemicizes ‘overtly’ and/or ‘directly’ in the controversy with Nikolaus von Amsdorf, while chapter four attends to texts in which he polemicizes ‘covertly’ and/or ‘indirectly.’ The analyses show in detail how these different types of communicative situations are bound up with certain rhetorical strategies and particular polemical functions in Hoffman’s texts.

In addition to the mode of polemical communication, another central point of the analysis in chapter three and four consists of how Hoffman positions himself with respect to his status as a layman. The focus here is on how Hoffman utilizes (self-)attributions, attitude, and language in his polemic pamphlets to influence perceptions and conceptions of hierarchy and social roles. Thus, Hoffman’s polemics against his clerical opponents can provide new insights about the role of laymen within Reformation discourse and culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German, Stockholm University , 2013. , 285 p.
Keyword [en]
Reformation, Radical Reformation, Melchior Hoffman, Anabaptist, Polemic, pamphlet, 16th century, religious polemics, culture of conflict, controversy
Keyword [de]
Reformation, Radikale Reformation, Melchior Hoffman, Wiedertäufer, Polemik, Glaubensstreit, Religionsstreit, Konfessionsstreit, Streitkultur, Pamphlet, Flugschrift, Kontroverse, 16. Jahrhundert
National Category
General Literature Studies History of Ideas
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92691OAI: diva2:640942
Public defence
2013-09-27, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 13:00 (German)
Available from: 2013-09-05 Created: 2013-08-14 Last updated: 2013-08-29Bibliographically approved

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Lundström, Kerstin
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Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German
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