UNIVERSITY OF THESSALY - DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY AND SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Gender and Religion in Early Modern Europe
Volos, 20-21 June 2008
This paper discusses attitudes in Calvin’s Geneva towards the human body, and in particular towards the female body. Concealment of the body in sober, undecorated clothing came to be viewed by Geneva’s clergy as a significant means by which women could visibly signal and reflect their acceptance of Reformed doctrine and moral norms, particularly in the realm of sexual conduct. This paper will consider the results of these beliefs. Was there an advancing frontier of sexual repression, particularly for women, as a result of the Reformation in Calvin’s Geneva? Or, did Calvinist clergy rather only succeed in advertising to Genevans the almost endless potential in the visual and physical realm for people to encounter sexual temptation as they focused their attention on the apparent moral ills of revealing and sumptuous clothing, and of dancing and bathing bodies.