Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965
Published: November 2018© 2018
344 Pages, 6.20 x 9.20 x 1.20 in
Disruptive Power examines a surprising revival of faith in Catholic miracles in Germany from the 1920s to the 1960s. The book follows the dramatic stigmata of Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth and her powerful circle of followers that included theologians, Cardinals, politicians, journalists, monarchists, anti-fascists, and everyday pilgrims. Disruptive Power explores how this and other similar groups negotiated the precariousness of the Weimar Republic, the repression of the Third Reich, and the dynamic early years of the Federal Republic.
Analyzing a network of rebellious traditionalists, O’Sullivan illustrates the divisions that characterized the German Catholic minority as they endured the tumultuous era of the world wars. Analyzing material from archives in Germany and the United States, Michael E. O’Sullivan investigates the unsanctioned but very popular visions in several rural towns after World War II, providing micro-histories that illuminate the impact of mystical faith on religiosity, politics, and gender norms.
List of illustrations
1. Germany between Apocalypse and Salvation: Bloody Images and Miraculous Cures
2. The Rise of Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth during the Weimar Republic
3. Saving Souls and Making Enemies: The Struggle over Konnersreuth and the Downfall of Political Catholicism
4. Between Feminine Agency and Moral Utopia: Gender and Sex in Konnersreuth
5. Disruptive Potential: Catholic Miracles under the Third Reich
6. Miraculous Times in West Germany: Marian Apparitions during the Early Federal Republic
7. Therese Neumann between Catholic Traditionalism, Cold War, and Economic Miracle
"Disruptive Powers deals with a myriad of themes in a complex, ambitious narrative based to a great degree on primary sources from numerous state and church archives…O’Sullivan gives us much to ponder in his thought-provoking, challenging work."Kevin P. Spicer, Stonehill College, Contemporary Church History
"O’Sullivan’s wonderful study of early-twentieth-century German Catholic miracles, Disruptive Power, keeps social structures, clerical and lay leadership and institutions in view while also illuminating forms of popular piety and their political impact both within the Catholid community and at regional and national levels…Michael O’Sullivan has written a richly descriptive and carefully argued book that makes a serious and important contribution to a vibrant and expanding field."Monica Black, University of Tennessee, German History
"O’Sullivan aptly demonstrates the ways in which power from below – grassroots movements as well as localized individual efforts – can influence and shape figures and events at regional and national levels. While his book will be of most interest to German studies scholars, his subject also has broad appeal to social and cultural historians of modern Europe."Lauren Faulkner Rossi, German Studies Review
"O’Sullivan offers a compelling argument for reconfiguring the conventional narrative about piety and secularization in modern Germany."Lauren N. Faulkner Rossi, Journal of Modern History, Vol.92, No. 4
"O’Sullivan’s book is fascinating reading, meticulously researched, and well written."Stephen Bevans, SVD, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, University of Toronto Quarterly: Letters in Canada 2018
"Michael E. O’Sullivan’s deeply researched, equally imaginative and provocative book Disruptive Power tells the fascinating story of Therese Neumann (1898–1962)."Benjamin Ziemann, University of Sheffield, American Historical Review
"This beautifully written monograph deserves wide readership, especially by students and scholars of Europe and sexuality. Employing the case of Catholic mystic Therese Neumann, Michael O’Sullivan challenges conventional narratives about German history to argue for ‘the central place of Catholic miracles to the politics of modern Germany.’"Maria Mitchell, Franklin & Marshall College, EuropeNow
"Extremely compelling and well written, Disruptive Power tells a terrific story centred on Therese Neumann, one interwoven with tales of Marian apparitions from other regions of Germany. In a remarkable mastery of detail and nuance, Michael E. O’Sullivan reconstructs the complicated web of reactions, power politics, and ecclesiastical scrambling that ensued in the wake of ongoing revelations, visions, pilgrimages, and cures. Disruptive Power is a masterful example of history written both from above and below − of church, gender, and social history. Written with a commanding grasp of the scholarly literature, it spans the Weimar Republic, the Nazi era, and the first two decades of the Federal Republic."Mark Edward Ruff, Department of History, Saint Louis University, author of 'The Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945−1980'.
"Superb, rich, and lucidly written, Disruptive Power taps into the burgeoning area of cultural studies as a whole, and Catholic mysticism in modern Germany in particular. Building on a recently vibrant historiography on mystical apparitions in the Kaiserreich, Michael E. O’Sullivan embraces gender studies as well as new approaches to religion, secularization, and modernity."Noel D. Cary, Department of History, College of the Holy Cross, author of 'The Path to Christian Democracy'
2019 Best First Book in the History of Religions Prize awarded by the AAR
The Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize