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Journal > Volumes > 49 (2018) / 1 (Spring)
Hearing Difference in Calvin's Geneva: From Margins to Center
Anna Kvicalova
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science & Freie Universität Berlin

This article puts hearing disability at the center of research on early Calvinism in Geneva, arguing that it allows us to observe the process by which new patterns of sensory communication were fashioned after the Reformation. The paper proposes to approach the Reformation as an epistemological shift that brought about a new moral definition of bodily conduct and sense perception, which constructed hearing differences afresh by determining what it meant to hear or listen properly. On the one hand, this article gives evidence against the ingrained historiographical notion that the deaf and hard of hearing were marginalized and generally excluded from salvation in the period; on the other, it calls into question the self-evidence of the category of deafness itself, which is never understood as a purely physical impairment in the Genevan primary sources, but as a diagnosis in which bodily difference and sociocultural practices cannot be easily separated.

Pages: 25 - 49