Select Page

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh commemorated the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral on Oct. 31, 1517, an event that sparked the Protestant Reformation. In challenging the Catholic Church’s practice of selling “indulgences” to reduce penance and time in Purgatory, the German monk and scholar changed the course of religious and cultural history in the West. UWO’s week-long commemoration was held Oct. 30-Nov. 3 and included a series of speakers in Reeve Memorial Union Theatre, a student art exhibition in the Annex Gallery and a showing of the 2003 movie Luther.

View the stream of all six speaker session events here!

Schedule of Events

October 30 – November 3, 2017

All Week:

Annex Gallery, A/C Building: By Way of Albrecht Dürer: An Exhibition of Student Work Inspired by Watercolors from the Age of the Reformation

Click here for more information about Albrecht Dürer

While the name Albrecht Dürer conjures up such famous woodcuts as the Four Riders of the Apocalypse, or engravings like Melencholia I, the artist was equally adept as a painter. Like most artists trained in the late fifteenth century, Dürer painted countless religious altarpieces and portraits of famous contemporaries in the precise and incredibly painstaking medium of oil on panel, a tradition established by Jan van Eyck in the early fifteenth century.

Albrecht Dürer was one of the first northern artists to make several trips to Italy, to engage with an international audience that ranged from Venice to Antwerp, and to become so well-known in his own
lifetime that even the Emperor Maximilian I was counted among his patrons. Dürer lived in turbulent times and although he probably never left the Catholic church, his sympathy to Martin Luther and the Reformation can be gleaned not only from several letters that he wrote to key historical figures, but also by his later religious works that are markedly Protestant in their message. His most famous painting, the so-called Four Apostles (so-named even though it actually shows the four Evangelists), was a gift to his Protestant hometown of Nürnberg and might be considered a proto-type for what a Protestant religious painting could look like.

But Dürer also became a true pioneer in the versatile and expressive medium of watercolor. While earlier artists had made studies of drapery, plant and animal life in watercolor as studies for finished paintings, it would be Dürer who brought this art to the attention of collectors and humanists. The interest in observation from life grew in tandem in both the art and scientific communities of early modern Europe while inquiry into the natural world created a demand for accurately observed studies of classification of nature. After Dürer, early modern scientists came to rely on artists’ acute observations of insects, just a tad bit of artistic license, Dürer’s observational studies of nature would set the standard for generations of scientfiic illustrators and artists alike.

This exhibition of animal, plant, and drapery watercolors was produced by students in Professor Trina Smith’s Art 241 Watercolor class. Inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s precise observations from life and by his groundbreaking techniques, students took advantage of the UW Oshkosh Insect Collection, the Neil A. Harriman Herbarium, and various other greenhouses and other fish and bird collections managed by the Department of Biology. Professors Greg Adler, Rob Mitchell, and Tom Perzentka generously opened these collections to art students for study. Just as in the Renaissance, art and science collaborate once again!

Susan Maxwell, Professor of Art History, Department of Art

Reeve Union outside the Steinhilber Gallery: Here I Stand, a poster exhibition from the State Museum of Prehistory – Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Martin Luther as a Doctor of Theology. Engraving, 1521

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Martin Luther as a Doctor of Theology. Engraving, 1521

Tuesday, Oct. 31

Live Stream

9:40-11:10, Reeve Union 307

Kimberly Rivers, Department of History: “How an Academic Dispute Changed the World: Luther’s Early Life and Career”

Who was Martin Luther and what were the 95 Theses? Why did they capture the public imagination in Germany and the rest of Europe?

Karl Boehler, Department of English: “Luther and the Problem of Indulgences”

11:30-1:00, Reeve Union 307

Susan Maxwell, Department of Art: “Persecuted Images in the German Reformation”

This talk will explore how different artists responded to the challenge of iconoclastic violence in wholesale destruction of images that followed in the wake of the Reformation. From well-known artists such as Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder, to the countless anonymous printmakers whose withering broadsides joined in the fight, then as now, art was at the forefront of spreading new ideas.

Elizabeth Wade-Sirabian, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures: “Luther’s Legacy of Language”

The mastery of idiom vividly demonstrated in Luther’s German translation of the Bible also characterizes Luther’s didactic and reformist works. In the centuries following the Reformation, the power of Luther’s language enriched German culture and enhanced German’s global significance.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther as Junker Jörg. Woodcut, 1522

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther as Junker Jörg. Woodcut, 1522

1:20-2:50, Reeve Union 307

Kathleen Corley, Department of Religious Studies: “How Then Shall We be Saved? The Doctrine of Salvation in Luther’s Perspective”

Martin Luther taught a new idea for the very process of salvation which energized the movement of the Reformation. He based his doctrine of salvation upon the words of St Paul from the Letter to the Romans, “the just shall live by faith (alone).” This lecture will explore Luther’s views on salvation and faith as well as show how these views varied from those of the Roman Catholic Church of his day. 

Richard DCamp, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures: “Music and Worship in the Protestant Reformation”

The Reformation made changes in the church’s singing. While each of the major Reformers – Luther, Zwingli and Calvin – had musical training and had the skill to write poems and tunes, on the other hand each had significantly different attitudes to music and song in the church. This session will investigate how the Reformers viewed music and, which theological decisions formed the basis for their differing understandings.

Wednesday, Nov. 1

6:30-9:00, Sage Hall 1210

Screening of the movie “Luther” by the History Club

Caricature of Luther with seven heads; identifying Luther as a doctor, a monk, a Turk, a preacher, a fanatic, a church visitor and a wild man with a club. Title-page to Cochlaeus, 'Septiceps Lutherus', Leipzig: Valentin Schumann. Woodcut and letterpress, 1529

Caricature of Luther with seven heads; identifying Luther as a doctor, a monk, a Turk, a preacher, a fanatic, a church visitor and a wild man with a club. Title-page to Cochlaeus, ‘Septiceps Lutherus’, Leipzig: Valentin Schumann. Woodcut and letterpress, 1529

Thursday, Nov. 2

Live Stream

9:40-11:10, Reeve Union 307

Mick Rutz, Department of History: “The Narrative of Thomas Hancock: Divided Loyalties and Divided Communities in the English Reformation”

Monika Hohbein-Deegen, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, “Eastern Germany: The most godless place on Earth”? From cultural heritage to political and regional identification.”

Eastern Germany, the geographical area where Martin Luther lived and the reformation began, is now considered the “most godless place on earth”. What makes this region so different from the rest of the world, and in what way did post World War II political realities shape the difficult relationship between state and church in former East Germany? What makes East Germans religious without wanting to be associated with religion, as we know it?

11:30-1:00, Reeve Union 307

Thomas Rowland, Department of History: “‘The Empires Strike Back’:  H.R.E. Charles V, the Roman Church and the Counter Reformation.”

The Counter Reformation was the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the attacks launched upon it by Protestant reformers, beginning with Martin Luther.  The Council of Trent convened in 1545 represented an organized attempt by Rome to stop the hemorrhaging of Catholic souls by the reaffirmation of Catholic doctrine and the institution of internal reforms.

Gabriel Loiacono, Department of History: “From 1517 to 1776: How Protestant Theology Shaped the American Revolution.”

We’ve all heard that the American Revolution was a revolt against British taxation. And this is true. What we often forget, though, is how much British American religious thought contributed to the rebellion. 

1:20-2:50, Reeve Union 307

Andrea Jakobs, Department of History: “What is the ‘Calvinist Rome?’: Reformation in Hungary and Transylvania”

Hungary, and its province Transylvania, experienced a strong wave of Reformation conversions in the 16th century. The Ottoman invasion divided the medieval Hungarian state and isolated it from royal and Catholic control. Thus Lutheranism and especially Calvinism took deep roots in Hungary and Transylvania.

Round-table session on Women and Sexuality in the 16th Century: Susan Maxwell, Kimberly Rivers, Kathleen Corley

In an informal round-table format, three scholars will discuss the implications of the Reformation for gender and the status of women.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Law and Grace. Woodcut, 1529

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Law and Grace. Woodcut, 1529

Co-Sponsors include the UW Oshkosh History Club and the departments of art, English, foreign languages and literatures, history, and religious studies and anthropology.