Announcement: Upcoming blog-post series for the Training school „Passionate Devotions. Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Religious Texts, Images and Music“, University of Muenster, 26.-28.4.2017

In two weeks, the University of Muenster will host the next Training school run by COST Action IS1301, co-organized by us, Ragnhild Martine Bø (University of Oslo) and Sita Steckel (Münster). While the full programme is listed below, this post also announces further activity on the blog: Over the next few days, it will be our pleasure to host brief texts written by the ten early stage researchers participating in the Training school, in which they will set out their themes and approaches to the nexus of religion and emotions. While the resulting mini-series of texts also kicks off our own methodological discussion, it is expressly intended as an invitation to participate to the scholarly audience, offering both an overview of the intriguing work currently being done by younger scholars and the opportunity to comment or participate. The plan is to end the first part of the mini-series with a report on the discussions of the Muenster event, though some further posts by younger scholars working in the thematic area may follow. The series is, in principle, open to interested other scholars, though submissions need to be closely related to the Training school’s theme.[1]

The task of this initial post is to introduce the format of the Training school and to say a few words about our aims and programme. The event will bring together several guest lecturers and ten early stage researchers for three days of methodological discussions and mutual exchange in a highly international group. With manuscript viewing and museum visits as parts of the discussion, the event stays in the mold of the successful prior Training schools coordinated by August den Hollander (Amsterdam) and various members of the COST Action network. Our manuscripts will be furnished by the historical department of the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Münster, which will show us a selection of devotional manuscripts. Barbara Marx, custodian at the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, will guide us through their fantastic medieval and early modern collections.

As a title for the upcoming meeting, we chose the dramatic „Passionate Devotions. Emotions in Religious Texts, Images and Music in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe“. The choice of theme was due to our impression that the topic of emotions has not only become more and more important during the last few years, prompting several substantial books on the (pre-modern) history of emotions over the last few years and leading to the establishment of several bigger research centres. The links between religion and emotion are also a sort of „longseller“ within European medieval and early modern history. The theme of „affective spirituality“ in particular has had a strong impact on the resesarch field of medieval religion. Yet there appeared to be a lot of new work out there as well, being done by younger researchers, and we were wondering how the traditional field of religious devotion and devotional reading – an issue of high interest for COST IS1301 as a research network – had meshed with the recent discussions within the history of emotions.

Upon closer consideration, the theme of religion and emotions seems quite important for the core contentions of the COST Action network. As the Action’s research proposal sets out, we posit that the later medieval and early modern centuries witnessed the formation of „new communities of interpretation“ in which laypeople began to appropriate religious texts, with our without the guidance of religious experts such as priests or scholars.[2] The interface of religion and emotions appears quite relevant in this context: Whether we want to imagine communities of lay readers as engaging with religious texts on their own, or in groups, or under the guidance of experts, emotional engagement with such texts and their content would always have been an important catalyst of religious experience. Yet it might be interesting to debate whether „communities of interpretation“ were also „emotional communities“, and whether laypeople (or other historical actors) engaged with emotional scripts contained in religious texts themselves or appropriated a specific practice of emotional experience through other means.

The responses to our Call for Applications convinced us that our instinct was right and that lots of exciting work were out there – after a slow start, we had more than twice as many applicants as we could accept. The field of stunningly good and interesting applications indeed highlighted specific issues in current research: Several ongoing studies are evaluating and adapting history of emotion approaches for use in the field of medieval or early modern religiosity. A particular emphasis is being put on the way texts influenced emotions and vice versa. A focus on the materiality and mediality of devotional texts and objects forms a third trend.

These accents recur in the thematic sections of the Training school and the four lectures which will give impulses during the Training school. On Wednesday (26.4.), Christina Lutter (Vienna) will start off the section entitled „Texts shaping emotions/emotions shaping texts“, with a lecture entitled „Controlling passions through affective teaching: The case of Caesarius of Heisterbach“. On Thursday (27.4.), „Physicality and materiality“ will be the focus points, with Ragnhild M. Bø speaking on „Being mindful of thy tears: The lachrimose in late medieval altarpieces“ and Rob Lutton (Nottingham) on „Routinized ecstasy?: emotional arousal in the late medieval English cult of the Holy Name of Jesus“. The final day, Friday (28.4.), focusing on „Emotions debated and instrumentalized“  will start with a co-presented lecture on „Fear and loathing in the Middle Ages. Politicized emotions in the secular-mendicant conflict“ by doctoral researcher Stephanie Kluge (Münster) and Sita Steckel. Altogether, the programme looks very promising and we look very much forward to welcoming everyone here at Muenster. We also hope that the mini-series of blog posts over the coming days will invite further researchers to participate via comments, submissions or other networking.

Sita Steckel and Ragnhild Bø


Venue: Haus der Niederlande im Krameramtshaus, Alter Steinweg 6/7, 48143 Münster

Day 1 – Wednesday, 26. April 2017 Texts shaping emotions/emotions shaping texts

09:00-9:45 Welcome and introduction (Sita Steckel, Münster)

10:00-11:30 Guest lecture and discussion

Christina Lutter (Vienna), Controlling Passions Through Affective Teaching: The Case of Caesarius of Heisterbach

11:45-13:15 Participant presentations

Ella Kilgallon (QMU, London), The role of emotion in the creation of devotional space: the case of early female Franciscan tertiaries

Dorottya Uhrin (Budapest), The cult of Virgines Capitales in Late Medieval Hungary

13:15-15:00 Lunch

15:00-16:30 Participant presentations

Andrea Mancini (Leeds), Emotions and Penance. The penitential summa of the Franciscan Observant Nicholas of Osimo

Joanka van der Laan (Groningen), Performative religious reading

17:00-18:00 Manuscript viewing, ULB Münster

18:00 Apéro and dinner

Day 2 – Thursday, 27. April 2017: Physicality and materiality

09:00-10:30 Guest lecture and discussion

Ragnhild Martine Bø (Oslo), Being mindful of thy tears: The Lachrimose in Late Medieval Altarpieces

10:30-11:30 Guided tour, LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur (Barbara Marx, custodian)

11:30-13:00 Guest lecture

Rob Lutton (Nottingham), Routinized ecstasy?: emotional arousal in the late medieval English cult of the Holy Name of Jesus

13:00-14:30 Lunch period

15:00-18:00 Participant presentations

Frances Cook (Reading), Sanctity and Material Culture: Female Saints and their Devotees in Late Medieval England

Renske Hoff (Utrecht), The arousal of affectus in 15th century Middle Dutch, devout songs

Matko Matija Marušić (Zagreb), Thirteenth-century Crosses and the Strategies of Affective Piety

18:00 Short city walk and dinner

Day 3 – Friday, 28. April 2017: Emotions debated and instrumentalized

09:00-10:00 Lecture: Sita Steckel and Stephanie Kluge (Münster), Fear and loathing in the Middle Ages. Politicized emotions in the secular-mendicant conflict

10:00-13:00 Participant presentations

Antonio Chemotti (Munich/Warszawa), Music and emotions at exequies in Italy (1550-1650)

Lauren Mulholland (QMU, London), The Marian Lament as Jerusalem Lament: Grieving the Holy City in thirteenth-century Occitania

Rouven Wirbser (Bielefeld), Ad poenitentiam movere. The Role and Use of Emotions in Jesuit Mission

13:00-14:30 Lunch

14:30-15:00 Discussion, feedback and conclusion of the Training school
[1] Please send a half-page description of a possible contribution or the whole contribution of max. 1000 words to We reserve the right to publish only relevant contributions and will have to close the series after a time.
[2] Cf. the Memorandum of Understanding of COST Action IS1301, downloadable at

11 thoughts on “Announcement: Upcoming blog-post series for the Training school „Passionate Devotions. Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Religious Texts, Images and Music“, University of Muenster, 26.-28.4.2017

  1. Pingback: Frances Cook: Feedback Training school “Passionate Devotions” | COST Action IS1301

  2. Pingback: Matko Matija Marušić: Feedback Training school “Passionate Devotions” | COST Action IS1301

  3. Pingback: Joanka van der Laan: The performance of emotion in late medieval Passion mediations | COST Action IS1301

  4. Pingback: Dorottya Uhrin: The cult of virgin martyrs in medieval Hungary | COST Action IS1301

  5. Pingback: Renske Hoff: I could cry over that: an anthropological approach to the arousal of affectus in vernacular songs of the Devotio Moderna | COST Action IS1301

  6. Pingback: Andrea Mancini: Preaching and penitence in the age of Observance. The Summa confessorum of the Franciscan Nicholas of Osimo and the economic ethics of Observant Franciscans in the Late Middle Ages (c 1350-cm1453). | COST Action IS1301

  7. Pingback: Antonio Chemotti: Music at exequies in Italy (1550-1650): official regulations, social meaning, and affects | COST Action IS1301

  8. Pingback: Matko Matija Marušić: Thirteenth-Century Crosses and the Strategies of Affective Piety | COST Action IS1301

  9. Pingback: Ella Kilgallon: The role of emotion in the creation of devotional space: the case of early female Franciscan tertiaries | COST Action IS1301

  10. Pingback: Lauren Mulholland: The Marian Lament as Jerusalem Lament: Grieving the Holy City in Thirteenth-Century Occitania | COST Action IS1301

  11. Pingback: Rouven Wirbser: Ad poenitentiam movere. The role and use of emotions in Jesuit popular missions | COST Action IS1301

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