The cross-disciplinary project sets out to investigate cultural change through the nexus of expressions and beliefs in letters, songs, sermons and manuscripts by applying methods of history, folkloristics, ethnomusicology and literary studies. Our aim is to gain new empirical knowledge and to define new methods for analysing historical and sociocultural dynamics. Until recently, Nordic Reformation period has been studied mostly from the viewpoint of doctrines and institutions while social historians have been interested in the new territorial powers, the conflicts of nobility and peasants and the implementation of the new religious order. On their separate fields, folklorists and literary scholars have scrutinized sources of folk beliefs and vernacular literature.
In this project, we will break down the established disciplinary boundaries and focus especially on those texts in which different beliefs, expressions and the great and little traditions meet in varying constellations. The analysis of texts, authors and sociocultural networks will challenge the prevailing understanding about the relationships of the institutions of power and faith vis-à-vis the local communities and common beliefs. Through the prism of the Reformation period, we will examine change and exchange in belief systems, linguistic registers and social dynamics in the multi-lingual Baltic Sea area, particularly in Finland and Estonia. The project interlocks with the interpretations on the great divide, which re-structured the relations of elite and folk cultures in Europe.
The research is based on a combination of close comparative and contextual reading, detailed multidiscliplinary analysis of given corpora, and contextualization to larger historical and socio-cultural processes. Our aim is to work out a new view on the social history of literary cultures in the region by bringing together sources that have traditionally been treated separately: letters, hymnals, manuscripts of liturgical songs, sermons, court records and secular song books.
The researchers chosen to the project have been involved with studies of cultural, economic and gender history, literary studies, study of folklore, linguistic anthropology, ethnomusicology and hymnology. The project is linked to the earlier research of the team members on late medieval and early modern culture, oral and literate cultures, correspondence, song registers, representations of belief and networks.