This article challenges the secularization thesis, which envisions a bewildered medieval subjectivity that stands in stark contrast to our rational modernity, by way of an analysis of bleeding Eucharists. These artifacts throw into relief the complex skein of problems woven together under the name of secularism, especially the degree of enchantment experienced by subjects in the century leading up to the Reformation. The complex series of responses to miraculous Eucharists in the Wilsnack blood cult and in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament demonstrate that skepticism is a structural moment in the creation of belief; the disavowal of faith is a lure that dupes subjects into ideological conformity. In this respect, the defensive mode of iconoclastic debunking is not the exclusive possession of a modern and cynical age but an implicit property of an image worship that is essentially an agent of its own secularization, inspiring bewilderment and demystification in turn.
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C. J. Gordon; Bread God, Blood God: Wonderhosts and Early Encounters with Secularization. Genre 1 June 2011; 44 (2): 105–128. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-1260161
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