Policing the Word : The Control of Print and Public Expression in Early Modern Augsburg, 1520-1648

Creasman, Allyson F., Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Midelfort, H. C. E., Department of History, University of Virginia
Schutte, Anne, Department of History, University of Virginia
Osheim, Duane, Department of History, University of Virginia
Belanger, Terry, Book Arts Press, University of Virginia

This dissertation, Policing the Word: The Control of Print and Public Expression in Early Modern Augsburg, 1520-1648, examines the regulation of expression in the German imperial city of Augsburg during the confessional era. Drawing primarily upon criminal court records, Policing the Word analyzes Augsburg's censorship controls governing the book trade, preaching, public speech and assembly, and other forms of public expression. Beginning with the unrest preceding the city's Reformation, it examines the role of censorship in shaping religious expression. Following the legal recognition of both Catholics and Lutherans under the Religious Peace of Augsburg, the city redirected its regulatory policies more toward the maintenance of peace between the religious factions than the promotion of confessional consciousness or doctrinal orthodoxy. As confessional tensions mounted in the later sixteenth century, Augsburg employed censorial controls both to suppress religious polemic and to promote an inclusive ideology of civic responsibility and religious coexistence among its residents. Although the targets of enforcement shifted as the city changed hands between Catholic and Protestant factions during the Thirty Years' War, the interests of confessional uniformity ultimately gave way to the communal demand for accommodation in the civic order.

By tracing the evolution of Augsburg's censorship policies through the course of the city's religious and political transformations in the early modem period, Policing the Word clarifies the role of censorship in the transmission of ideas, as well as in the shaping of confessional consciousness and the inculcation of communal values. Censorship was not merely an instrument of state control, but a process of accommodation between governmental expectations and communal interests, a forum for negotiating competing demands and a vehicle for creating and enforcing new concepts of community. This system was dependent as much on self-regulation within the community as it was on official policing. By looking beyond the censorship ofprint to the regulation of public speech and IV symbolic expression, it also reveals the complex interaction of print and oral cultures during the period and suggests the need to reassess conventional interpretations of the transmission of ideas, social disciplining, and the shaping of communal values.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

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