Matko Matija Marušić: Feedback Training school “Passionate Devotions”

“There is a lot to digest!” This simple phrase stated at the closing discussion of the workshop by one of the participants, best describes the deep intellectual impact the Münster days will have on our future research. Skimming through the notes I have written down during the presentations and discussions, I became aware of the fact how difficult it is to write a short overview of the event. Apart from the vast time span (twelfth to eighteenth century) and original sources composed in different languages (Latin, Mid-Dutch, Occitan…), what still strikes me the most are different approaches to the questions related to emotions in devotional practices. The various topics of modelling, instigating, provoking, shaping, and censoring of emotional responses, have all proved to be highly stimulative for discussions following the presentations, but as well in informal occasions during the meals and post-dinner brewery visits.

The stretched wooden table of the historic House of Nederland’s Kaminzimmer has been a platform for intellectual growth and learning in highly encouraging environment. The friendly and easy-going atmosphere will most certainly be remembered by the participants, while the sharing of ideas has provided much help in shaping the arguments of our research. By gathering young scholars (our research is still to be written), coming from different disciplines and research milieu, the training school has served its fundamental purpose: to connect researcher working on similar topics in various disciplines. This perspective, as well as the discussion-oriented format of the workshop, has made me gain bigger picture of the complexities of experiencing late medieval and early modern devotional texts and images.

Speaking from my own perspective, I have found particularly intriguing the questions related to the practices of viewing. Although in art-historical research usually taken from granted, viewing has in several presentations proved to be much more intricate when observed under the light of devotional practices. To that extent, some ideas presented in Ragnhild Martine Bø’s paper on the mimetic aspect of the ‘lachrimose’ in the late medieval altarpieces or Frances Cook’s reflections on the ritual viewing of medieval fresco cycles, have already tackled me to challenge certain conclusions presented in my paper.

Matko Matija Marušić (

This post forms part of an open mini-series published in connection with the COST Action IS1301 Training School “Passionate Devotions. Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Religious Texts, Images and Music” (see announcement with details about submissions here).

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