Abstract: Luther regularly labeled superstition, Catholic dogma, and the beliefs of the Turks and the Jews, as ‘dreams’. ‘Lauter somnia’, pure dreams, was one of his favourite insults, and he liked nothing better than to debunk them. Yet Luther was also fascinated by signs and portents, and though he often joked about dreams, he too noted important dreams. Dreams also happened to be recorded at key turning points of the Reformation, and they give rare insight into Luther’s deepest anxieties and feelings. Discussed collectively, Luther and his followers used dream interpretations to communicate concerns they did not discuss explicitly. This lecture explores how historians can make use of dreams to understand the subjectivity of people in the past.
Lyndal Roper completed her undergraduate degree in History with Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, and from there she went to study in Germany at the University of Tubingen before moving to the University of London (King's College) where she completed her doctorate degree. She worked at Royal Holloway, University of London and then moved to Balliol College, Oxford, where she was Fellow and Tutor in History. She is currently at Oriel College. She is the first woman to hold the Regius Chair in History, and as far as she knows, the first Australian. She has worked on the history of witchcraft and has recently written a biography of the German reformer Martin Luther.