2012-13 Conferences: Religion and the Household

Theme for 2012–13: Religion and the Household

Bangor University, 18–21 July 2012

London, 12 January 2013

Throughout history, the relationship between religious cultures and the household has been marked by a curious mixture of intimacy and tension.  A nursery for religious faiths in their infancy and a vital bulwark of established churches in their settled institutional phases, the private home has also perennially provided beleaguered believers with a safe haven and refuge during times of persecution.  In many different periods, traditions and contexts, the household has functioned as a notable focus for intense devotion and piety and a critical site and instrument for the inculcation of religious reform, spiritual renewal and social control.  Simultaneously, it has regularly served as a seedbed of subversion and resistance to the political and ecclesiastical status quo and provided an environment within which religious dissent, internal friction and generational conflict have flourished and grown.  It has also long been employed as a metaphor for the congregation of the faithful itself.

The aim of the EHS conferences on this theme is to foster fresh discussion and debate about the complex connections that have pertained between religion and the domestic realm from antiquity to the present day.  I hope that they will help to extend and deepen our understanding of how the nexus between them has developed, and how this in turn has been shaped by the varying social and cultural conditions to which Christianity and other faiths have been exposed in a wide range of geographical locations.

Communications exploring all aspects of the topic are warmly invited: on the household as a physical space and setting for worship and personal piety; as a network of people bound together by ties of kinship, emotion, service, and obligation; and as a metaphor for and microcosm of structures of authority that operated essentially outside of it.  Contributors might consider the architecture, furniture, apparatus and material culture of domestic devotion, including chapels, statues, altars, relics, books and sacramentals; the personnel by whom household religion has been shaped in the past, from mothers, fathers, children and grandparents to servants, retainers, and resident chaplains; the ways in which religious faith has both cemented links and catalysed dissension within families and across generations; the interconnections and tensions between the household as a religious unit and the parish church, diocese and territorial state; the role of the family and household in planting and sustaining religious faith in contexts of mission, repression, exile and war; the impact of Reformations, reform movements and evangelical revivals on domestic devotion and its forms of expression; the manner in which religious cultures have been moulded and coloured by differing traditions of kin, household structure, patriarchy and lineage; and the part played by the private home and family unit in processes of secularisation.  

The main speakers will be Kate CooperElisheva BaumgartenJustin Jones and David Maxwell (Summer conference); Julia SmithTara Hamling and Callum Brown (Winter meeting).

Alexandra Walsham

President Elect 2012–13

For the programme of the Summer Conference, click here.

For the programme of the Winter Meeting, click here.

The resulting volume was published as †John Doran, Charlotte Methuen and Alexandra Walsham, eds, Religion and the Household, SCH50 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2014)