Winds of Change: Luther, Bodily Function, and the Reformation
Martin Luther is widely known for the legend of his famous 1517 act of defiance, his nailing of his 95 Theses to the doors of Wittenberg Cathedral. What is perhaps less well known is Luther’s ongoing defiance of evil and the devil himself.
For Luther, though, this contest with evil was more than metaphor. Luther’s devil was a physical presence and a real attack that he wrestled with day and night. Among Luther’s arsenal of weapons in his contest with evil was his own body.
Throughout his writings, there is evidence of Luther’s own physical confrontation with evil, a confrontation that involved his confessed “farting” on the Devil to ward off his temptation. The nature of these physical contests with evil and the wider relationship of the Reformation’s spiritual changes to the history of the body are the preoccupations of this project.
Martin Luther. Luther’s Works. Vol. 54. ed. Jaroslav Pelikan. American Edition. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955.
Carlos Eire. Reformations: The Early Modern World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.
Roy Porter, ‘History of the Body Reconsidered’, in New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. Peter Burke, 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001. The Female Body in Western Perspective. ed. Susan Rubin Suleiman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.