‌Lyndal Roper

Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professor Lecture Series 2016-2017

Lyndal Roper

Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford

Lyndal Roper profile photo

Luther, Dreams, and the Reformation

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 7:00pm

School of Communications - Shoma Hall
5100 Brunson Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Free & Open to the Public


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 favorite 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. In this lecture, Lyndal Roper explores how historians can use dreams to understand the subjectivity of people in the past.

“Roper . . . has an extraordinary talent for making complex theological issues not just clear but entertaining. Luther jumps from these pages with immense vitality, as if his exploits occured last week. Theological history often seems monochrome. This is Luther in colour.” — The Times (UK)

Roper’s work is the first historical biography, for many decades, of Martin Luther (1483-1546). When on October 31, 1517 an unknown monk nailed a theological pamphlet to the church door in a small university town, he set in motion a process that helped usher in the modern world. Within a few years Luther's ideas had spread like wildfire. His attempts to reform Christianity by returning it to its biblical roots split the Western Church, divided Europe, and polarized people's beliefs, leading to religious persecution, social unrest, and war; and in the long run his ideas would help break the grip of religion on every sphere of life. As an acclaimed historian, Lyndal Roper explains how Luther's impact can only be understood against the background of the times. As a brilliant biographer, she gives us the flesh-and-blood figure. She reveals the often contradictory psychological forces that drove Luther forward and the dynamics they unleashed, which turned a small act of protest into a battle against the power of the Church.

Lyndal Roper was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford in 2011. In that same year, Roper was also elected a Fellow of the British Academy. She is a fellow of Oriel College, and an honorary fellow of Merton College, Oxford. In addition, she is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She is also the author of a variety of groundbreaking works on witchcraft including The Witch in the Western Imagination (University of Virginia, 2012), Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany(Yale, 2004; paperback 2006, Hexenwahn, C.H.Beck, 2007), and Oedipus and the Devil (Routledge, 1994).


Lunch Seminar
New Perspectives on Martin Luther and the Reformation
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 12:30pm
 Otto G. Richter Library, Third Floor Conference Room

For UM Humanities Faculty & Graduate Students



Directions to Shoma Hall