Jacob M. Baum
Phone: (806) 742-3744
Office: 53 Holden Hall
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jacob M. Baum specializes in the history of religion, culture, and daily life in late
medieval and early modern Germany. His first book, Reformation of the Senses: Religious Continuity and Change in Germany, ca. 1400-1600
(under contract with the University of Illinois Press) explores the history of the
five senses in the context of the religious and cultural transformations of the early
Protestant Reformation. It challenges a centuries old narrative that casts the Protestant
Reformation as dissolving the ritualized and hyper-sensual religion of the later Middle
Ages only to replace it with a more intellectual, disembodied form of Christianity.
Using an array of Latin and vernacular archival materials, as well as evidence from
the material cultural record, this study finds that the senses remained a persistent
and unresolved problem during the transition from traditional Christianity to early
Protestantism. Far from representing a break with the medieval past, the Protestant
Reformation in Germany in many instances intensified the significance of the senses
in religious belief and practice, even as adherents of the new religion began to tell
themselves the story of a ‘reformation of the senses' – the idea that Protestant Christianity
had in fact produced a less sensuous, more intellectual, religion. By addressing
these paradoxical impulses, this book sheds new light on the visceral experience of
lived religion in the distant past, offers new methodological insights into the burgeoning
field of sensory history, and unravels one of the most enduring myths of modern Christianity,
which has shaped how we think and talk about religious difference for half a millennium.
In addition to continuing interests in the history of the senses, Dr. Baum is in the early stages of researching the history of disability in early modern Europe. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how major events such as the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, and the Enlightenment, shaped peoples' understandings of blindness and deafness, and impacted the lives of those classified as blind and deaf.
At Texas Tech, Dr. Baum teaches a variety of courses in European history at the undergraduate and graduate level, including surveys in Western Civilization, late medieval and early modern Europe, and more specialized courses in the Protestant Reformation, the history of witchcraft, religion, culture and ideas in early modern Europe, and historical research methodology.
For a full list of publications, conference papers, awards, and other professional activities, visit: ttu.academia.edu/JacobMBaum