‘This chocolatical confection…’

A world of chocolate: Sophie's map included tea, coffee, chocolate, and sugar to remind us that these 'new world' products transformed the habits of old Europe.

A world of chocolate: Sophie’s map included tea, coffee, chocolate, and sugar to remind us that these ‘new world’ products transformed the habits of old Europe.

What better way to mark the first of our public lecture series, ‘Cultural Encounters: Travel, Religion, and Identity in the Early Modern World’, than with a chocolate map of the world, prepared for us by Sophie Jewett of the wonderful York Cocoa House? We’re hugely grateful to Sophie not only for her chocolate cartography, but for serving up delicious drinks made in accordance with two early modern recipes — one for hot chocolate, dating from 1644, and one, from 1710, for a pretty potent chocolate wine.

But why chocolate (as though that’s ever a real question…)? Continue reading

Word of the Day: Pisteology

This one is borrowed directly from the Oxford English Dictionary, which today informs us that Pisteology is ‘A theory or science of faith’. From the few citations given by the dictionary, it seems a) that it didn’t really catch on (one to try and rectify!), and b) that it implicitly refers to Christianity.

Since the OED dates first use to 1880, it’s not a term which the early modern men and women we study would have recognised. Still, it chimes interestingly with a question that’s dogging my own research: what is the difference between the study of religion and the study of belief? Is it possible to excavate (especially at such a historical distance) the operations and experience of faith as well as its articulation and performance? And what is the connection between pisteology and piscatology (fishing)?