Imparting Protestant norms in rural Zurich. A culture semiotic approach to the Lindau Poltergeist case (1697)

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In the winter of 1697, the inhabitants of the parish house in the Swiss town Lindau believed to be plagued by a Poltergeist which left the resident priest Johann Georg Denzler, his family and household terrified. Rumours had been spread across Zurich that the spirit haunting the parish house of Lindau was no other than the restless ghost of the late priest, Denzler’s predecessor. Moreover, it was being reported that Denzler had tried to banish the ghost by sticking and nailing bible verses onto the walls of the haunted house. If these accounts turned out to be true, then Denzler’s coping with the malevolent entity violated central issues of Protestant theology, which is why the sitting Dean of the Zurich Church, Anton Klingler, opened an investigation of the happenings in Lindau. This article analyses how Early Modern Protestant norms regarding the interpretation of and dealing with spirits were distributed and implemented in rural areas around Zurich. On what theological arguments were certain interpretative – and behaviour patterns – prohibitions based, and which information channels were used to spread Protestant ideas in rural parts of Early Modern Zurich? Rural areas are understood as dynamic communicative spaces defined by their relationship with urban practices of generating knowledge and spreading new, Protestant ideas. This study examines specifically, whether rural societies were, generally speaking, less informed about Protestant norms than the urban society in Zurich. With the aid of theoretical models of cultural semiotics, cultural change during the process of Protestant Reformation can be analysed and discussed exemplarily with the Lindau case at the end of the 17th century.
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Verlag DLG-Verlag
  
  
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