A Response to Philip Benedict’s ‘Of Church Orders and Postmodernism’


  • Jesse Spohnholz




In this discussion of BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review Philip Benedict reviewed Jesse Spohnholz’s book, The Convent of Wesel: The Event That Never Was and the Invention of Tradition (Cambridge 2017). While Benedict praises Spohnholz’s research and contributions as they pertain to the religious history of sixteenthcentury Europe, he criticizes Spohnholz for borrowing from scholarship associated with the ‘archival turn’ and postmodernist critiques of constructivist empiricism. In this response, Spohnholz defends his approach and its relevance for questions about writing the history of the Reformation in the twenty-first century. Spohnholz stresses the shared historical and methodological perspectives between himself and Benedict (and others), comments on the historical significance of his study, and clarifies the book’s intended audiences.


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Author Biography

Jesse Spohnholz

Jesse Spohnholz is Professor of History and Director of the Roots of Contemporary Issues Program at Washington State University. His research focuses on social practices of religious coexistence in Reformation-era Germany and the Netherlands, the experiences of religious refugees living through the confessional conflicts of the sixteenth century and historical memory of the Reformation. His other books include The Tactics of Toleration: A Refugee Community in the Age of Religious Wars (Newark 2011) and Ruptured Lives: Refugee Crises in Historical Perspective (Oxford 2020). He is currently co-director, with Mirjam van Veen, of the research project, ‘The Rhineland Exiles and the Religious Landscape of the Dutch Republic, c.1550-1618’ funded by the Dutch Research Council and based at the vu Amsterdam. E-mail: spohnhoj@wsu.edu.




How to Cite

Spohnholz, J. (2021). A Response to Philip Benedict’s ‘Of Church Orders and Postmodernism’. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 136(1), 78–90. https://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.10898