Jacob M. Baum, 2021–22

The Deaf Shoemaker: Ability, Disability, and Daily Life in the Sixteenth Century

Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellowship, 2021-22

Associate Professor of History, Texas Tech University

Baum, Jacob M.

Jacob M. Baum is associate professor of history at Texas Tech University. He researches late medieval and early modern European history, with particular focus on the German-speaking world. He is especially interested in how religious and scientific ideas, typically considered the preserve of elite intellectual spheres, intersected with and exerted force in daily life and popular culture. His first monograph, Reformation of the Senses: The Paradox of Religious Belief and Practice in Germany (2019), examined how ideas about bodily sensing were integral to Christian religiosity in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, tracking continuity and change in belief and practice between the late medieval church and early Protestant communities. He is coeditor, with Marlene Eberhart (Vanier College, Montreal), of Embodiment, Expertise, and Ethics in Early Modern Europe (2020), an interdisciplinary collection of essays that chart new paths in sensory studies of the early modern era.

Baum's current research focuses on histories of physical impairment and disability in the early modern era, with particular emphasis on how religious, scientific, and social forces shaped the experience of deafness and blindness in Europe between 1400 and 1750. During his time at the National Humanities Center, he will be writing a microhistorical study of Sebastian Fischer (1513–ca. 1555), a shoemaker from the southern German city of Ulm, whose remarkable manuscript notebook records his experiences of hearing loss and deafness, and thereby provides unique insight into the history of disability in the premodern era. He hopes that this work will be of use to researchers and students alike, and will serve as a point of departure for a larger historical monograph on the history of hearing loss and deafness in the early modern era.

Selected Publications

Embodiment, Expertise, and Ethics in Early Modern Europe

  • Eberhart, Marlene L., and Jacob M. Baum, eds. Embodiment, Expertise, and Ethics in Early Modern Europe: Entangling the Senses. New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Baum, Jacob M. “Abraham Scultetus and the God of Paste: Ritual Conflict and Sensuous Calvinism in the Second German Reformation.” In Embodiment, Expertise, and Ethics in Early Modern Europe: Entangling the Senses, edited by Marlene L. Eberhart, and Jacob M. Baum, 100-31. New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Baum, Jacob M. Reformation of the Senses: The Paradox of Religious Belief and Practice in Germany. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019.
  • Baum, Jacob M. “Opening a Window to the Devil: Religious Ritual as Spectacle in Baroque Germany.” In German Visual Culture, vol. 2, Spectacle, edited by Thomas O. Haakenson, and Deborah Ascher Barnstone, 13-40. Oxford, UK: Peter Lang, 2015.
  • Baum, Jacob M. “From Incense to Idolatry: The Reformation of Olfaction in Late Medieval German Ritual.” Sixteenth Century 44, no. 2 (Summer, 2013): 323-44.
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