Conversion narratives in the early modern world

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConference


This three-day conference brought together scholars from across the globe to discuss the politics and enduring influence of religious change during and after the European Reformations. The three-day conference brought together more than sixty speakers from Britain, the US, Canada, Brazil, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, New Zealand, and Malta to explore conversions throughout Latin and Colonial America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Far East. Delegates compared notes on topics as diverse as women’s conversions in sixteenth-century Vietnam, the Christianisation of Belize, and Turks turned Protestant in early modern London. Some papers dealt with particular case studies, while others opened up the variety of models – from Augustine reading in the garden to Ignatius Loyola’s vision of the Virgin Mary after he was wounded in Pamplona, or St Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus – which early modern men and women drew upon when telling their own stories of changing faith. An important strand of the conference investigated the rhetorical and metaphorical turns of those who shifted Church, opening up new ways of understanding religious experience in this crucial period. The conference also featured lectures from two plenary speakers, Professor Irene Fosi (Chieti) who offered a thrilling survey of the ways in which the formal questions of the Roman Inquisition framed and prompted particular narratives, and Professor Nabil Matar (Minnesota) whose provocative lecture demanded that we rethink today’s religious politics in the light of a long history of Christian conversions backed by the full force not only of religious institutions but of global trade.
Period9 Jun 201111 Jun 2011
Event typeConference
LocationYork, United KingdomShow on map


  • Conversion, Roman Catholicism, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Protestantism, travel, trade, identity-formation, boundaries