Degree Zero of Sound & Image, c.1000-1800


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September 7, 2017 · 9:38 am

Erasmus’ edition of the Disticha Catonis – Prof. Martin Bloomer

Date and time: 12 June, 16:00-17:00

Venue: Courtroom, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38

Erasmus’ edition of the Disticha Catonis was one of his greatest printing successes, with over 100 editions printed in his lifetime, not all of course with his approval or participation. He treated this Roman collection of aphorisms as a species of ancient wisdom literature and represented this approach as a radical break from his predecessors’. Erasmus told his readers why his edition was so much better than his rivals. Were these stated principles in fact important for the success of his work? What were his educational goals and his philological methods?  Image result for erasmus

Martin Bloomer is professor at the University of Notre Dame. His chief areas of research lie in Roman literature, ancient rhetoric, and the history of education. His books include Valerius Maximus and the Rhetoric of the New Nobility (Chapel Hill 1993), Latinity and Literary Society at Rome (Philadelphia 1997), The Contest of Language (Notre Dame 2005), The School of Rome (Berkeley 2011), and A Companion to Ancient Education (Chichester and Malden, MA 2015).

This lecture is given in collaboration with the Medieval Research School.

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Chaucer’s London/London’s Chaucer – Paul Strohm

Time and venue: 7 June, Offerhauszaal, Academy Building, 17:00-18:00

Prof. Strohm is the Anna S. Garbedian Professor Emeritus of the Humanities at the Department of English & Comparative Literature in Columbia University, New York. He was previously J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. His publications include: Social Chaucer (Harvard, 1994); Hochon’s Arrow: The Social Imagination of Fourteenth-Century Texts (Princeton, 1992); England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and Textual Legitimation, 1399-1422 (Yale, 1998) and Theory and the Premodern Text (Minnesota, 2000).

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Lectures: Medieval Missals | Theology & Art

Research Colloquium: 7 February 2017, Oude Boteringestraat 34, room 002, from 5 to 7 p.m.


Politics and Mass Media: Medieval Missals in the Beneventan Zone

Andrew J.M. Irving

“To restore an edifice,” wrote Viollet-le-Duc “is not to maintain it, nor to repair it, nor remake it, but to re-establish it in a complete state in which it may never have existed at any given moment.” This paper re-examines the evidence of design features of mass books produced at the Abbey of Montecassino in the early Middle Ages. A deliberate, “restorationist” initiative in mass book production on the part of the abbot is identified and set in relief against the broader context of the production of missals at the Abbey and elsewhere in Southern Italy, and its causes and implications are explored.

Andrew Irving (PhD, Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame, 2012) is Assistant Professor of Religion and Cultural Heritage at the University of Groningen. After completing his dissertation on gospel book manuscripts of Montecassino, he has contributed articles on manuscript studies, medical, and liturgical history to Scriptorium, Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft, Bibliografia dei Manoscritti in Scrittura Beneventana, and Worship, and he has recently submitted chapters describing urban processions in early twelfth-century Benevento, and on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century priests’ manuals. In 2012-2013 he was post-doctoral research associate at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, and in 2015-2016 was a post-doctoral research assistant for a Notre Dame project on the Distichs of Cato, based at the Cologne Centre for eHumanities.


Material Religion and ‘Monumental Theology’ – Since When do Theologians Care for Art?

Stefanie Lenk

Religious Studies and Theology, then as now, struggle to make art and material culture a focus of their disciplines, despite religious institutions using and producing images, objects and buildings throughout the centuries. Luther’s dictum of the true experience of God being non-visual and best mediated by words was perpetuated by Protestant aesthetics like those of Kant and Hegel, and seems to influence academic thinking still. Publisher of the series ‘Iconography of Religions’ and the yearbook ‘Visible Religion’, the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of Groningen has taken since the 1970’s another trajectory, trying to reconcile religion and the visual. This talk traces the occupation of theologians with art back to 19th century Germany. It shows that theologians took material religion seriously enough to set up a now forgotten research discipline called ‘Monumental Theology’. It further argues that it was, perhaps surprisingly, the Protestant theologian Schleiermacher whose concept of ‘Anschauung’ (‘contemplation through looking’) set this process in motion.

Stefanie Lenk is a curator at the British Museum, London, working with the Empires of Faith research project (University of Oxford) on late antique religious art from a cross-cultural perspective. In her PhD she asks why pre-Christian imagery was used to decorate baptisteries of the 5th and 6th century Western Mediterranean. Stefanie is currently curating the Empires of Faith exhibition (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 19 October 2017-19 February 2018). The exhibition looks at the creation of religious imagery from India to Ireland in the first millennium AD which has formed our understanding of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. With four EoF colleagues, she co-authored the volume Images of Mithra that examines the formation of the iconography of the deity Mithra across different religious traditions (OUP, 2017).

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Hadewijch’s ‘books’? Tracing the (non-)publication tactics of a thirteenth-century beguine writer – Veerle Fraeters

18 January, Courtroom, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 14:30-16:30

Veerle Fraeters is Professor at the Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp. She specializes in medieval mysticism, with a special focus on the Middle Dutch tradition, on visionary literature, on women authors and on the Brabantine mystic Hadewijch. Recent publications include, as author, the chapter ‘Visio’ in the Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism (2012), and, as editor (with M.-E. Gongora and Th. de Hemptinne), the volume Speaking to the Eye. Sight and Insight through Text and Image (1150-1650) (Brepols, 2013) and (with Imke de Gier), Mulieres Religiosae: Shaping Female Spiritual Authority in the Medieval and Early Modern Times (Brepols, 2014). She is editor, with Frank Willaert, of the new edition with Dutch translation and commentary of Hadewijchs Verzamelde Werken (Complete Works) of which the prize-winning first volume Liederen (Songs) came out in 2009 (Historische Uitgeverij Groningen).

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Surprised by Joy: Scholarly Discoveries in Latin Medical Literature, 800-1200 – Eliza Glaze

Venue and time: 12 December, Courtroom, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 14:30-16:30 (note time)

Speaker: Prof. Eliza Glaze (Professor of  History,  Coastal Carolina University, USA)

Abstract: Specializing in the articulation of new knowledge based upon the evidence of medieval Latin medical manuscripts and healthscapes, Prof. Glaze’s research explores the processes by which medical knowledge was transmitted from the ancient Mediterranean into Western Europe via classroom experiences, textual media and contextualized practices. Her ultimate interest is two-fold: to recover and identify the transmission, interpretations and use of specialized material from the Mediterranean world, and to explore the social aspects of medical thought and practice manifest in surviving codices.

Masterclass: Prof. Glaze’s lecture will be preceded by a masterclass from 11:15, which is intended for REMA and PhD-students. If you would like to participate, please contact

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‘Eckhart and the Layman’ in female religious milieus – John van Engen

Venue and time: 31 October, Courtroom, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 16:00-17:15

Van Engen, a renowned expert in the Devotio Moderna and late medieval piety, returns to Groningen to give a lecture about the pseudo-Eckhartian treatise Eckhart and the Layman. Specifically, he will explore its connections to female religious milieus.

John van Engen is the Andrew V. Tackes Professor of Medieval History at the University of Notre Dame where he was director of its Medieval Institute. His works include Religion in the History of the Medieval West (2004) and Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Late Middle Ages (2008).

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Johann Christoph Sturm (1635-1703) and the secularization of early modern science

Lecture hosted by the Centrum voor Universiteits- en Wetenschapsgeschiedenis

Speaker: Dr. Andrea Sangiacomo (NWO/Faculteit Wijsbegeerte.

Time: 25 October at 17.30. Venue: Collegezaal in the University Library.

Eighteenth-century science is seemingly characterized by a progressive ‘secularization’, in sofar as theological and metaphysical concerns tend to drop out of the scientific agenda. This process is difficult to understand if compared with seventeenth-century science, in which God and divine action in nature played a crucial role. In this paper, Andrea Sangiacomo will focus on the German philosopher Johann Christoph Sturm’s account of passive forms as a case study to better understand the conceptual changes that affected the secularization of early modern science. He will argue that Sturm’s account leads to dissociate the explanans of natural phenomena from considerations about the causal power(s) needed to bring about these phenomena. While Sturm maintains that God is the only true cause bringing about natural effects, he also claims that the specificity of natural effects must be empirically investigated by inquiring into natural forms. Forms no longer have any ‘active’ role in the causal process but still account for its specific features. The speaker will argue that this account of passive forms reveals how theological and metaphysical considerations about God’s involvement in nature can be progressively bracketed, by leading to an apparently theology-free science.


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Child murder accusation against Jews: the Vita et passio Willelmi Norwicensis – Miri Rubin

Wednesday, 5 October, Faculty of Theology, Room 253, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 16:30-18:00

The birth of the child murder accusation against Jews, associated with the Vita et passio Willelmi Norwicensis

Miri Rubin, Queen Mary University London

Miri Rubin is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at QMUL. Her publications include: Corpus Christi: the Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (1991), Gentile Tales; the Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews (2004), Mother of God. A History of the Virgin Mary (2009), and trans. with an introduction, Thomas of Monmouth, The Life and Passion of William of Norwich (2014).

Miri Rubin’s Edition of The Life and Passion of William of Norwich

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Amsterdam and its Holy Place – Charles Caspers, Radboud University

6 June, 16:00, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38, room 125

During the Late Middle Ages religious life in Western Europe was increasingly influenced by Eucharistic devotion. Among these influences local cults, arising from a ‘Eucharistic miracle’, played important roles. These miracles involved a .remarkable, inexplicable occurrence with the consecrated host or wine. Amsterdam also had a devotion of this sort, a so-called ‘Sacrament of Miracle’. In 1345, in this Dutch city, a Host lay for hours in a fireplace without being consumed by the fire; hence the site of the miracle became the  ‘Holy Place’. From its inception, the devotion seems to have been a factor in interests of its devotees, the municipal authorities, the Counts of Holland and later on even the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Charles Caspers  works in the Titus Brandsma Institute. His most recent monograph is Zacht doch krachtdadig: Anna Catharina van Hees en de oorsprong van de Congregatie Dochters van Maria en Joseph (2015).

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