Research Notes and Website Links for
14/03/2014 14:45:51

Fellow and Regius Professor of History.
Professor Lyndal Roper, BA (Hons) (Melb.), PhD (London), FBA, FAHA, FRHistS.

Oriel College
Tel: 01865 276555

Professor Lyndal Roper (PhD, F RHist S, FAHA, FBA).
I did my undergraduate degree in History with Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, and from there I went to study in Germany at the University of Tubingen before moving to the University of London (King’s College) where I completed my doctorate. I worked at Royal Holloway, University of London and then moved to Balliol College, Oxford, where I was Fellow and Tutor in History. I’m now at Oriel College. I am the first woman to hold the Regius Chair in History, and so far as I know, the first Australian. I’ve worked on the history of witchcraft and am now writing a biography of the German reformer Martin Luther. I am happy to supervise graduate students in the area of early modern German history, the history of witchcraft, gender history, history of the body, sexuality, or indeed any topic within the cultural history of the early modern period.

Martin Luther by Professor Lyndal Roper.
When on 31 October 1517 an unknown monk nailed a theological pamphlet to the church door in a small German university town, he set in motion a process that ushered in the modern age. His attempts to reform Christianity would split the Western Church, divide Europe and polarise people’s beliefs, leading to religious persecution, social unrest and war; in the long run his ideas would help break the grip of religion on every sphere of life. Yet Luther was a deeply flawed human being: a fervent believer tormented by spiritual doubts; a prolific writer whose translation of the Bible would shape the German language; a married ex-monk who liberated human sexuality from the stigma of sin; a religious fundamentalist, Jew-hater and political reactionary. An acclaimed historian and a brilliant biographer, Lyndal Roper reveals the often contradictory psychological forces that drove Luther forward and the dynamics they unleashed, which turned a small act of protest into a battle against the power of the Church.

History of Witchcraft; Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One thought on “Research Notes and Website Links for



    Professor Lyndal Roper is the first woman, the first Australian and the first
    graduate of the University of Melbourne, to hold the Regius Chair in History at
    the University of Oxford. This is the oldest and most distinguished chair of
    history in Britain and has been occupied by some of the most famous and
    important historians working in Britain since its establishment by George I in
    1724. It is an extraordinary achievement and an achievement that shows how
    far Professor Roper has gone and how much she has achieved since
    graduating with first class honours in History from the University of Melbourne
    in 1977. Inspired by her teachers here, and especially by those teachers who
    taught her about some of the wilder moments of the German Reformation of
    the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Professor Roper has engaged since
    the early 1980s in one of the most concentrated and intellectually inspiring
    investigations into the intersections of psychology, gender and history that any
    contemporary historian has done. She has made witches both real and
    understandable while also showing that we cannot understand them without a
    deep knowledge of the particular cultural, social and psychological milieu of
    the German Reformation. That milieu, or mentalité, to use a word historians
    prefer to use when discussing the ambience of an age, helps make explicable
    what to contemporary minds seem inexplicable: why people believed in
    witches and why some people accused of witchcraft also considered
    themselves witches.

    Professor Roper became Regius Chair at Oxford because of the power of her
    scholarship. She is the author of three powerful and paradigm-shifting
    monographs, each on different aspects of witchcraft and witch hunting in the
    German Reformation. In her first book, she asked how the reformation
    changed conceptions of gender and described in great detail the workings of
    `holy households’ in Augsburg. She is returning to some of those themes
    once more in her current project, a large biography of Martin Luther. In her
    second book, the highly acclaimed masterpiece, Oedipus and the Devil, she
    drew on serious research into psychology to understand better the psychology
    of witchcraft in Germany, along with forays into the literary culture of sixteenth
    century Germany. Taking psychoanalysis seriously, she offers a nuanced
    approach to understanding the psychological obsessions of the early modern
    period, drawing expertly on theories by Klein and Freud. In her third
    monograph, Witch Craze, she developed this theme more systematically, so
    as to explain the role of unconscious fantasy in history. This study
    encompassed areas of human experience that often elude the historical
    record, realms such as fantasy, envy and terror. It brought the physical and
    psychological together. It won the Roland H Bainton Prize. Her next book
    deals with the witch as figure in western imagination.
    Professor Roper has many intellectual distinctions, such as being a fellow of
    the British Academy and a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.
    She is a past editor of Past and Present, Britain’s pre-eminent historical
    journal. Not least of her honours is that she is an Honorary Professor within
    History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. Her appointment
    as Regius Chair is recognition of the extraordinary intellectual contributions
    and continuing brilliance of this extremely gifted historian.

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