After Iconophobia?

After Iconophobia? An Online Symposium

Tara Hamling and Jonathan Willis

aiIn 1985, Patrick Collinson delivered Reading University’s Stenton lecture on the topic ‘From Iconoclasm to Iconophobia: the Cultural Impact of the Second English Reformation.’ More than thiry years on, this essay (published in pamphlet form in 1986 and in revised form as Chapter 4 of The Birthpangs of Protestant England) has gone on to shape a generation of scholarly enquiry into the impact of religion on culture, and of culture on religion, in post-reformation England.  Scholars have accepted, rejected, and modified Collinson’s arguments, but one way or another they continue to exert a powerful influence over reformation studies today.

If you haven’t read Collinson’s original article/chapter, we would certainly encourage you to do so, although reasons of copyright prevent us from uploading a copy on the public internet.  Still, the definitions of his two key terms may well be of interest:

iconophobia definitions

Tara and I therefore felt that the thirtieth anniversary seemed like a timely point to take stock and re-examine Collinson’s initial thesis, as well as flagging up some of the new directions that study of the areas explored in his original lecture (religious drama, songs and ballads, and pictorial art) was taking.  What is the current consensus regarding ‘iconoclasm’, ‘iconophobia’, ‘the second English reformation’, and the relationship between them?  In the summer of 2015 we gathered together a dynamic group of international scholars, under the auspices of Birmingham’s Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS) and with the generous support of the School of History and Cultures, for a two-day workshop to consider the legacy of his seminal essay, as well as exploring the most exciting present and future trends in the field.  Given the success of previous online symposia at the ‘monster – history from below; voices of the people; addressing authority – we decided to widen the conversation further by presenting our thoughts in an open forum and inviting responses from anyone with an interest in the topic.

A new post will be published every few days over the coming weeks. We begin with some introductory thoughts (Hamling) and broad reflections on Collinson’s original thesis (Morton) and its relevance for the ‘long’ English reformation (Sangha).  We then move on to consider some more detailed case studies, such as dramatic representations of God’s word (Streete) and of god himself (Tasker), as well as dramatic representations of Elizabethan portraiture (Stelzer).  Next come some considerations of visual and material culture in the form of Doom imagery in print and paint (Dhillon), domestic imagery (Morrall) and the material culture of the post-reformation parish church (Orlik).  Finally, the symposium considers potential future areas for research (Green) as well as whether an essay as audacious and sweeping as Collinson’s could still be written (Ryrie).  We finish with some concluding thoughts (Willis).

The aim of this online symposium is not to present these pieces as finished ‘publications’ for posterity. Rather we hope that they will serve as spurs to discussion. You are thus warmly invited to reply to these posts with your questions, comments, suggestions and critiques, or join the conversation on twitter via #aftericonophobia.

Table of Contents

If referencing pieces published here, we suggest the following citation: Author, ‘Title’, in Tara Hamling and Jonathan Willis (eds), After Iconophobia? An Online Symposium (2017) [URL: Date Accessed].






19 thoughts on “After Iconophobia?

  1. Pingback: Introductory thoughts | the many-headed monster

  2. Pingback: Definitions and Phases of Reform | the many-headed monster

  3. Pingback: After Iconophobia | Material Histories

  4. Pingback: Protestants and Images in the Late-Seventeenth-Century | the many-headed monster

  5. Pingback: Collinson and Drama | the many-headed monster

  6. Pingback: The Presence (and Absence) of the Supernatural in Elizabethan Drama | the many-headed monster

  7. Pingback: Staged Portraits in Early Modern English Drama | the many-headed monster

  8. ‘…and a pretty picture will hide a hole in a hall out of all question’…’O, but our sweet-faced gentlewomen will keep your profession in great request; our lack-looks and barren-beauties will uphold it forever…’ (Middleton, The Owles Almanacke, on Painters in Taylor & Lavagnino, eds, Thomas Middleton The Collected Works (Oxford, 2010 pb edn; original 2007), p. 1300.

  9. Richard Crashaw (1612?-1649): ‘Upon Bishop Andrewe’s Picture before ‘His Sermons’ (1631) (i.e the frontispiece of Andrewe’s book of sermons).

  10. Pingback: English single-sheet prints c.1580-c.1620 in the light of Collinson’s 1985 lecture | the many-headed monster

  11. Pingback: Fragments of Doom in Post-Reformation England | the many-headed monster

  12. Pingback: The Case for Domestic Imagery | the many-headed monster

  13. Pingback: Somerton: a Parochial Case Study | the many-headed monster

  14. Pingback: Future Directions | the many-headed monster

  15. Pingback: Historiographical Reflections | the many-headed monster

  16. Pingback: Concluding Thoughts | the many-headed monster

  17. Pingback: the many-headed monsters’ resources for teaching | the many-headed monster

  18. Pingback: the many-headed monster is 10: looking back | the many-headed monster

  19. Pingback: Blogging and the Day Job: Tales from the Blarchive | the many-headed monster

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