Participant Info

First Name
Micaela
Last Name
Kowalski
Affiliation
PhD Candidate at the University of Virginia
Website URL
Keywords
Early modern Europe, global history, the Reformation, visual culture, print culture, material culture, religion, German history, the New World, the Americas, colonization
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

Photo
About Me

I am a third year PhD student in early modern European history at the University of Virginia. I work specifically on religion and visual culture in German-speaking Europe and my work seeks to examine the Reformation in a global context. My dissertation (now in progress) focuses on linking visual culture in the Reformation with European encounters in the New World. I argue that printed images of the New World circulated in Reformation Europe, specifically images that connect indigenous peoples and practices to the demonic, reflect Reformation ideas and concerns with the demonic occurring on the continent. My project seeks to not only connect the Reformation to its larger context, to see the influence of the Reformation on perceptions of the Encounter and also the effects of the Encounter on the Reformation, but also to examine processes of othering that were expressed through religious tropes ( in this case, the demonic) in visual culture.

My work prioritizes the use of visual sources as my primary evidence; historian Robert Scribner (1994; 2004) has rightly asserted that the primary form of communication in the early modern period was oral and that printing was often an addition to – not replacement of – oral communication, emphasizing the fact that printed tracts were often read aloud. To a society oriented around oral and visual communication, the printed visual was often just as – if not more – important than the text. Scribner’s observation is essential for historians studying this period in that visual sources should be taken as crucial pieces of primary evidence. By using visual sources as my primary evidence, while still taking into account their accompanying texts, my work seeks to gain a fuller understanding of early modern experience(s) and understand what ideas were being – and what could be – presented in visual form. In my work, I employ a Panofskian approach: art historian Erwin Panofksy’s work advocated for “uncovering” the historical “subject matter” within an image, essentially “confronting the ‘otherness’ of a different historical moment.” In using this approach, I seek to identify symbols within the images and to align meaning to historical moments and to textual sources, by diving into complex “iconological” contextualization.

 

Recent Publications

Dissertation in progress: “Between God and the Devil: Diabolic Representations of the New World in Reformation Europe, 1492-1648”

The Reformers’ Image of Mary: Early German Evangelical Thought & Theology in Visual Art, 1500-1525,” Master’s thesis, The University of Virginia, 2018.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Europe; Germany
Expertise by Geography
Atlantic, Central America, Germany, North America, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Pre-17th century, Early Modern
Expertise by Topic
Art & Architectural History, Indigenous Peoples, Material Culture, Race, Religion