Hearing Difference and Cultural Construction of Deafness
The chapter explores the topic of hearing differences as constructed by the Calvinist redefinition of religiously appropriate bodily conduct and sense perception. Kvicalova argues that in the post-Reformation context, deafness and hardness of hearing should be understood not only as physical impairments, but also as culturally negotiated categories whose interrogation reveals much about the changing modes of listening and speaking in Calvinist Geneva. The chapter discusses the status of deaf-mute people in the religious community against the backdrop of contemporary knowledge about hearing and approaches to the deaf in a wider European context. At the same time, it shows that hearing difficulties affected a great number of Genevans in the 1540s, and moved to the center of the comprehensive system of religious discipline.