Claire Woodward and Craig Harline, History Department
I assisted Dr. Harline in research with his upcoming book Wild Boar: The Rise of the Friar Martin Luther; 1517-1522. We explored these earlier key years of Martin Luther’s life, focusing on the events and people who shaped his rise to Reformation stardom, describing them in a new and refreshing way for a general audience. I was very involved not only in research and translation efforts, but also in seeking out illustrations for his book, contacting museums and obtaining permission to use each picture. Though many recognize Martin Luther as an important historical figure, this project has humanized many more complicated aspects of Luther’s life and added new perspectives and details to Luther literature for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
Dr. Harline obtained scores of books concerning Martin Luther and contemporary characters who interacted with and influenced him. I read through German biographies and histories at the beginning of this project, taking notes and looking for important and colorful details about people (like Frederick the Wise, Johannes Eck, and George Spalatin) and events (like the actual posting of the 95 Theses and the Leipzig Debate). After this initial research, I typed up many of the notes that Dr. Harline had taken for easier access and compilation as he began to draft chapters. I also worked on the bibliography during this time.
Dr. Harline continued to write at the beginning of 2016 and I began working on finding and obtaining illustrations, which took longer than expected. I went through many of the books we had used for research to find interesting pictures and then tried to track which institutions and museums held the rights to these images. I wrote emails to several museums in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and the USA to inquire about obtaining permission to publish one or more of their images. I kept track of each image as well as the cost to use them. Together Dr. Harline and I sorted these images into chapters and submitted this image folder to the publisher.
We were successful in obtaining permission to use 70 different illustrations from over 20 various museums and institutions for Dr. Harline’s book. His manuscript was submitted in October of 2016 and the final book is scheduled to be published in October 2017. All of the illustrations and chapters for the publication have been submitted to Oxford University Press. A Dutch publisher also contacted Dr. Harline and wants to publish a Dutch edition of this book, so this project will go international.
This project achieved many of its original aims, namely in producing a meaningful, readable, and interesting book for a general audience about Martin Luther. Dr. Harline utilized the myriad of information we were processing and combined many noteworthy details about Martin Luther and his contemporaries that are often ignored, including quirky personality traits, which gave more life to these characters. We fell short in finding as many details as desired for a couple of events, like the Leipzig Debate, but it still turned into an invigorating chapter. The initial portion of the illustration-seeking process was not very efficient because I found many illustrations without locating their sources, and they were thus useless. I learned a lot about museums that had expansive pictures regarding the Reformation and especially those with free image licensing.
Wild Boar: The Rise of the Friar Martin Luther will be published in October 2017 with its correlating edition in Dutch. Detailed research from English and German biographies about Luther and important Reformation leaders created a more colorful telling of Luther’s early years in the Reformation. The obtained illustrations also further depth to this story, humanizing the characters and events to provide story visuals for a general audience. This more personal account of Luther is significant as we reflect more on the Reformation for its 500th anniversary and as a greater audience shows interest in these events and people during this coming year.