The “New religious histories” sessions for the upcoming International Medieval Congress Leeds 2014, in a slightly revised version.
International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 2014
New religious histories: Four sessions and a roundtable
Tuesday 8th July 2014
Organisers: Melanie Brunner (Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds), Amanda Power (Department of History, University of Sheffield) and Sita Steckel (Historisches Seminar, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster)
Session I: Old and New Narratives
In order to work towards a new history of the religious and monastic orders, orthodoxy and heresy, and the wider church in the medieval period, we must address the master narratives on which most historical study continues to be based, and which are thus reinforced by modern scholarship. This session examines the effect of these narratives and modes of conceptualisation on modern historiography in order to propose some new approaches to the wider difficulties challenges of the study of late medieval religious history.
Amanda Power (Department of History, University of Sheffield): Reframing the friars minor: from old origins to new beginnings
Gert Melville (Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte, Technische Universität, Dresden): Structuring Diachronic Approaches to the History of Religious Orders
Sita Steckel (Historisches Seminar, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster): The Multiple Middle Ages. Modernization and diversification approaches to religious history
Chair: Elisabeth Salter (Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University)
Session II: Naming and Describing Religious Groups
Historians have come rather unevenly to look at the relationship between terminology used by groups to describe themselves, by contemporary others to describe them, and by modern scholarship, who by choosing particular names endorse certain narratives. While the study of heresy has benefitted from a growing precision in ‘naming’, other areas lag behind. Here, two papers explore and problematise the words used to categorise, respectively, the followers of heretics and dissident Franciscan groups, while the third looks at how the perceived qualities and roles of an order shifted within the continuity of its name.
Lucy Sackville (Department of History, University of York): Bad Behaviour: Action, Category, and the Law in Early Inquisitions
Melanie Brunner (Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds): Spirituals, Zealots, and Michaelists: Categorising Franciscan Dissidents
Christine Caldwell Ames (Department of History, University of South Carolina): From the Beginning: Inquisition and Discerning Dominican Identity
Chair: Neslihan Senoçak (Department of History, Columbia University)
Session III: Diversity and Choice in Religious Life
Many studies of religious orders, ecclesiastical history and lay religion are carried out within distinct fields. One way to approach this problem might be through the idea of religious ‘choice’, or even a ‘religious market’. But allowing for geographical variations, and across the imposed categories of orthodoxy and heresy, a diverse range of groups offered preaching, pastoral care and other services, sometimes in co-operation and sometimes in fierce competition. How did contemporaries make sense of various forms of diversity and which perceptions and social ties narrowed their choices and influenced their allegiances?
Robbie Mochrie (School of Management & Languages, Heriot Watt University): Responses to radical economic thought within the Franciscan Order: accommodation and suppression
Cornelia Linde (Department of History, University College London): Competition between Franciscans and Dominicans in 13th-Century England
Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel (Institut de Recerca en Cultures Medievals, Universitat de Barcelona): Defining Conversion: The Role of Social Networks in the Spreading of Spiritual Dissent
Chair: Ian Forrest (Oriel College, University of Oxford) Session IV: Questioning Authority
It is still often the case that overarching narratives of the religious orders are conceived from the top downwards. Tremendous weight is given to the views of the founder of an order and immediate companions or successors in authority. Equally, the wider context within which the orders are presumed to operate is understood through official, normative and aspirational statements from the papal curia and other sources of ecclesiastical authority. In challenging this construction of authority, the papers consider the social importance of the male Dominicans and the strategies by which Dominican nuns sought to secure their agency and autonomy.
Michael Vargas (SUNY New Paltz): Reconsidering Dominican influence
Mercedes Pérez Vidal (Departamento de Historia del Arte, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Gijón): Power and authority among Dominican nunneries in Castile. A reassessment of traditional conceptions
Araceli Rosillo Luque (Departament d’Història Medieval, Paleografia & Diplomàtica, Universitat de Barcelona): Sorority through the ages: modern nun’s chronicles and convent culture in Catalan female monasteries (XIIIth-XVIIth centuries)
Chair: Melanie Brunner (Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds)
Roundtable: Towards a Comparative Approach to Religious Histories
The series of sessions will conclude with a roundtable discussion about the future of comparative approaches to studying religious and monastic orders, orthodoxy and heresy, and the wider church in the medieval period.
Participants include Christine Caldwell Ames (University of South Carolina, Columbia), Melanie Brunner (University of Leeds), Emilia Jamroziak (University of Leeds), Amanda Power (University of Sheffield), Neslihan Senoçak (Columbia University), Jörg Sonntag (Princeton University) and Michael Vargas (State University of New York, New Paltz).
Chair: Sita Steckel (Historisches Seminar, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster)