Sara Ludin


Year: Advanced to Candidacy (ABD) - JSP


B.A. in Philosophy, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (2008)
Coursework in Soziokulturelle Studien, Europa-Universitaet Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany (2009-2010)


Legal history; religion, secularism, and theories of secularization; early modern Europe, especially the German lands; agonistic pluralism and difference; Islam and modernity; critical theory

Field Exams:
European Legal History
Law and Religion

David Lieberman
Winnifred Sullivan
Christopher Tomlins
Jonathan Sheehan

Currently: Visiting Research Fellow at Brown University (Faculty Advisor: Tara Nummedal)
Visiting Scholar, University of Cologne (january to March 2015)


Fulbright Fellowship, Berlin, Germany (2008-2009)
Dartmouth General Fellowship, Berlin, Germany (2009-2010)
FLAS for Arabic Study (Summer 2012)
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (2014)

Employment Experiences:

Graduate Student Instructor "European Legal History," Fall 2011
Graduate Student Instructor "Comparative Perspectives on Norms and Legal Traditions," Spring 2012 and Spring 2013
Graduate Student Instructor "American Legal and Constitutional History," Fall 2013
Graduate Student Researcher "Law and Humanities Faculty Strategic Working Group," under Marianne Constable, Spring 2014

Dissertation Abstract:

My dissertation will be a legal history of the Protestant Reformation in the early modern German lands, narrated at the level of dispute resolution in courts. Beginning in the 1520s, courts of various kinds began to receive cases that reflected divisions engendered by the reforming evangelical movement. These suits were typically brought by members of the clergy against reforming princes and magistracies, and mostly came under the headings of confiscation of church property, and violations of the ‘land peace’ (Landfriede) Some of the cases ended up in the Reichskammergericht (Imperial Chamber Court), a sort of “supreme court,” which had been established in 1495, and dissolved with the Holy Roman Empire’s end in 1806. Courts provided one setting in which various actors were called upon, in the course of settling such disputes, to articulate what counted as a Religionssache (a matter of religion), and what did not. Its answer determined the jurisdictional competence of a given court, and carried implications for the terms of the various peace accords, and the wider imperial constitutional order.

The importance of sixteenth century Germany to the historiography of law and religion is often undervalued. Weighted attention is given to eighteenth-century developments, especially in high theory, mainly in England and France. Moreover, focus on such doctrines and arrangements as secularism, toleration, and religious freedom dominates. I want to look at an earlier, messier period. In the sixteenth century German lands, at the same time in which new and revived ideas in theology were combining with a turbulent political landscape to produce a novel form of intra-Christian confessional difference—new in the extent of its power, self-definition, and intractability— late medieval legalities were undergoing their own set of transformations. My interest is to explore the ways in which certain kinds of conflict get worked out in terms of categories—“law” and “religion”—that themselves had been or were becoming highly fluid, plural, and contested.

If sixteenth century Germany is an undervalued scene for thinking through the relationship between law and religion, so, too, is law an important but often neglected element of sixteenth century German religious, political, and social history. Courtrooms in particular are an under-explored arena for thinking about the mutual salience of law and religion in early modernity. My project will explore the ways in which routine modalities of settling individual disputes in courts generated, in a piecemeal manner, through repetitions and accumulations, categories that would accrue legal, social, and cultural import.