Plague in the Reformation Era: A Kessler Conversation with Professor Erik Heinrichs

We are excited to launch the Kessler Conversations at Pitts Theology Library. This is a series of online interviews with leading church historians and theologians, asking this question, “What relevance do the events, personalities, and texts of the Protestant Reformation hold for contemporary communities?” On the first Wednesday of each month this Fall, these online, 30-45 minute conversations will offer opportunities for the general public to learn about the events in Europe the 16th century and to consider what they tell us about the issues facing our communities. Conversations each semester will focus on a single contemporary theme and trace it back to the Reformers. This Fall, the Kessler Conversations focus on disease, healing, and pastoral care in the 16th century.

In October, the Kessler Conversation was with Professor Erik Heinrichs, Associate Professor of History at Winona State University. Professor Heinrichs is a historian of medieval and early modern Europe, with research interests in medical and cultural responses to plagues, particularly in German-speaking lands. He is the author of Plague, Print, and the Reformation: The German Reform of Healing, 1473-1573 (Routledge, 2018). The Kessler Conversation with Professor Heinrichs, entitled “Plague in the Reformation Era,” was livestreamed at noon Eastern on Wednesday, October 7th, and it is now available online at

Our September conversation was with Professor Anna M. Johnson, Associate Professor of Reformation Church History at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Professor Johnson’s research explores religious practice in the German Reformation. She is the author of Beyond Indulgences: Luther’s Reform of Late Medieval Piety, 1518-1520 (Truman State University Press, 2017), and she recently wrote the introduction and annotations to Luther’s “Whether One Should Flee the Deadly Plague” for The Annotated Luther (Fortress Press, 2016). The Kessler Conversation with Professor Johnson, entitled “Christian Ethics in Times of Plague,” was livestreamed at noon Eastern on Wednesday, September 2nd, and it is now available online at

The November Kessler Conversation will be with Professor Ronald Rittgers, the Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies and Professor of History and Theology at Valparaiso University. Professor Rittgers’ research interests are in religious, intellectual, and social history of medieval and Early Modern/Reformation Europe, focusing especially on theology and devotion. He is the author of The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Oxford University Press, 2012). The Kessler Conversation with Professor Rittgers, entitled “The Reformation of Suffering,” will be livestreamed at noon Eastern on Wednesday, November 4th. Details and registration are available at

We are excited about the Kessler Conversations as a way of extending our Reformation Day impact, inviting a broader audience to learn how the 500-year-old works in the Kessler Collection have much to say about the challenges of disease, healing, and pastoral care that we all face today.
  • When: Eastern Time (US & Canada)
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Price: Free
  • Language: English
  • Who can attend? Everyone
  • Dial-in available? (listen only): Yes.
  • Dial-in Number: 1 (312) 248-9348
  • Dial-in ID: #
  • Dial-in Passcode: 1811#
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