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Articles - CfP Topic

Vol. 7 No. 1 (2021): Materiality of Writing. Reconsidering Religious Texts

Material Traces of a Religious Trial: The Case of Ludwig Teschler

September 17, 2020


In 1991, a private house in Graz was sold. The owner asked her son and his wife to lend a hand in clearing the attic of the small house, a typical construction of the 1930s which was built by the owner’s grandfather. Amongst piles of broken furniture, obsolete tableware, old books and rubble, all covered in layers of dust, the couple found a plastic bag containing about 70 sheets of paper, most of it damaged, most of it in unreadable handwriting. Yet the date written on some of them aroused their interest: to a large extent the years mentioned belonged to the 17th century.

The material aspect of this lot is of special interest. On the one hand, the analog medium of pen and paper has been subject to various destructive factors and information originally contained in the documents is irrecoverable; and, of course, the find is obviously incomplete. On the other hand though, the medium provides dimensions of the human beings who produced it in various respects a digital entity could never provide, each of which contribute to the not only interesting but also deeply touching stories that unwind in the 136 pages. One of these stories provides a perfect example for this setting: The case of Ludwig Teschler, a handcrafter who was accused of using witchcraft. He was also tried and sentenced – with a surprising verdict.