Call for Applications: Training School, Antwerp, 29-31 Oct 2014

Deadline for Applications: 1 July 2014

COST Action IS1301 „New Communities of Interpretation. Contexts, Strategies and Processes of Religious Transformation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe“ is a research network uniting over 120 researchers from 21 European countries. To contribute to the creation of research networks within and outside academia, it furthers connections between experienced scholars, regional and national archives and libraries as well as the upcoming generations of researchers.

The COST Action is proud to present a Training school on „Production and Use of Religious Texts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe“, held in cooperation with the University of Antwerp, and organized by August den Hollander (Antwerp/Amsterdam) and Sita Steckel (Münster). The event is highly focused on the IS1301 outlook, but includes a broad range of subtopics from typography to religious prints, from seventeenth century religious manuscripts to Antwerp’s tradition of book production.

As the material culture of religious texts, the history of writing and printing and cultures of religious reading are essential to our approach, half of the sessions will be held in collaboration with the heritage collections of the town of Antwerp, world book capital. Antwerp will host a prestigious double exhibition from September 2014 to January 2015. One part will run in the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) orbiting around ‘Sacred Places and Pilgrimage’, the other will take place in the Hendrik Conscience Library and will focus on ‘Sacred Books’. The chosen topics will allow us to discuss cultural dynamics and strategies of appropriation within lay formal and informal communities, instead of merely focussing on texts and objects with fixed meanings.

Ten Ph.D. or advanced M.A. candidates can be offered the opportunity to participate in lectures and visits during a three-day event and to present their own research. Based on preparatory reading and lectures, participants will discuss with local and external experts, visit the specialized exhibitions and give presentations.



29.10.2014 – Location: Museum Plantin Moretus

9:00-10:15 Antwerp and its role in the religious book production (Prof. dr. Hubert Meeus)

The first book printed in Antwerp was Simon van Venlo’s Boexken van der officien ofte dienst der missen (1481), a book explaining the catholic mass. From then until the end of the hand-press period Antwerp remained a center for the production of religious books in all shapes and kinds not only for the Netherlands but for the whole world. In my lecture I will treat the evolution and diversity of religious printing in Antwerp.

10:15-10:30 Coffee break

10:30-11:30 The typographical title page and its development between c. 1500 and c. 1800 (Dr. Goran Proot)

This workshop will focus on the development of the layout and design of Early Modern typographical title pages of religious books produced over a period of about 300 years, especially of Bibles. In contrast to the first fifty years of printing, the changes in the design of title pages seem to be much less radical. With examples from the Antwerp book production between 1500 and 1800, it will be explained how printers constantly reinvented the physical appearance of their products, and what the implications of that process are for scholars dealing with Early Modern religious books.

11:30-12:30 Publishers’ Strategies: the Verdussen Family, Antwerp 1589-1689 (Dr. Stijn van Rossem)

In this lecture, Dr. Van Rossem will explore the (mainly religious book) production and (inter)national publishing strategies of the Verdussen family, an Antwerp based family of printers from the 16th to the 17th century.

12:30-14:00 Lunch at the Museum Plantin Moretus

14:00-14:45 Guided tour through the Exhibition devoted to the unpublished polyglot Bible by Balthasar Moretus (Dr. Dirk Imhof)

14:45-16:00 Demonstration of a printing press at the Museum Plantin Moretus  and visit of the Museum

16:00-16:15 Refreshments

16:00-18:00 Four presentations of Training school participants’ reearch (Chair: Prof. dr. Sita Steckel)

18:00-19:00 Drinks in local pub

30.10.2014 Location: Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience

9:00-10:00 From Monastery to Market Place: The Production and Reading of Middle Dutch Bibles (Dr. Suzan Folkerts)

In 1477 two Middle Dutch Bible translations from the fourteenth century were put into print. They were given a second life – or third, or fourth, depending on the phases one wishes to discern in the afterlife of medieval texts. The transition from manuscript to print meant a transition from monastic production centres to commercial printers’ workshops, led by laymen. Also, the reception moved from a mainly religious public to a more mixed public of religious and laypeople. In this session we will investigate what marginalia and ex librises tell about the reading and the readers of these Middle Dutch Bibles. Were printed editions read differently than manuscript copies? Are there differences between the reading of the Old Testament and the New Testament? What do marginalia tell about the transition from manuscript to print?

10:00-10:15 Coffee break

10:30-11:30 Strategies of Publishing: The Case of Franciscus Costerus S.J. (Dr. Patricia Stoop)

The Jesuit Franciscus Costerus (1532–1619) was an important pioneer of the Counterreformation. In the last 25 years of his life he was a passionate preacher. His attacks against Lutheran and Calvinist theologians, as well as against rather pagan forms of Humanism, gave him the nickname Heretics’ Hammer. His sermons have been preserved in both manuscripts (2 collections) and early printed books (5 collections in 10 vols). In her contribution Patricia Stoop will investigate what these different forms of ‘publishing’ tell us about authorship, strategies of transmission, and printing and marketing of religious books.

11:30-12:30 Were Catholics in the Low Countries allowed to read the Bible? (Dr. Els Agten)

This contribution will focus on the legitimacy of vernacular Bible translations and the implementation of the so-called Regula Quarta of the Tridentine Index (1564) in the Low Countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. This regulation was not so strictly observed and gave birth to a multitude of discussions in the Low Countries. Particular attention will be paid to the ideas of the Messieurs de Port-Royal who were known as vehement defenders of vernacular Bible reading, and to the Catholic (Jansenist-inspired) Bible production in the Northern Low Countries.

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-16:00 Guided Tour through the prestigious exhibition ‚Holy Books‘, hosted by the Hendrik Conscience Library

16:00-16:15 Refreshments

16:15-18:00 Four presentations of research by participants Training school (Chair: Prof. dr. August den Hollander)

18:00-19:00 Drinks in local pub

31.10.2014 Morning session location: Ruusbroec Institute, University of Antwerp

9:00-10:00 Manuscripts relating to spiritual and mystical culture in the 17th-century Southern Low Countries (Prof. dr. Kees Schepers)

Kees Schepers will present a recently revealed set of texts and manuscripts relating to spiritual and mystical culture in the seventeenth-century Southern Low Countries, and specifically in the Malines monastery Thabor. Two of the manuscripts that testify to spiritual life in Thabor were acquired in recent years by the Ruusbroec Institute. Remarkably, the one manuscript containing a unique mystical dialogue belonged to the sister who was the scribe of the other manuscript containing unknown sermons by the convent priest. A third, related manuscript, was discovered in Auxerre.

10:00-10:15 Coffee break

10:15-11:15 Miracles as facts. Miraculous healings from procedure to publication in the seventeenth-century Low Countries (MA Jonas van Mulder)

The seventeenth-century upsurge of miraculous saint devotion in the Southern Low Countries inspired Henri Platelle to label this era as a veritable climat miraculeux. Shrines mushroomed and miracles ascribed to saintly intercessors were reported, printed and published with devotional and apologetic alacrity. The publication of such ‘miracles’, however, required official episcopal approbation. Instigated by the decrees dictated at the Council of Trent, by the Congregation of Rites and by Urban VIII, reports of miraculous healings were subjected to extensive episcopally commissioned investigation. Jonas Van Mulder will offer an insight into the witness hearings, medical attestations and ecclesiastical commissioners’ reports that documented such procedures initiated in the dioceses of the archdiocese of Malines, and how these testimonies were subsequently translated into the published accounts.

11:15-12:00 Two presentations of research by participants Training School (Chair Prof. dr. Sita Steckel)

12:00-12:15 Evaluation (Chair Prof. dr. August den Hollander)

12:15-13:30 Lunch at mensa academica

13:30-14:00 Walking to location afternoon session

Afternoon session location: Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)

14:00-16:00 The Exhibition ‚Holy Places‘ (Guus van den Hout, M.A.)

As a guest-curator for the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) in Antwerp Guus Van den Hout is working on the exhibition Holy Places. He is responsible for the part of the exhibition devoted to christian pilgrimage. Judaism and Islam form the other two parts of this revolutionary show on pilgrimage. Van den Hout is excited to show you around, discuss the concept and share ideas and views on the visualisation of the idea of pelgrimage and the obvious relevance for today’s society.

16:00 End of Programme


Prof. Dr Hubert Meeus

is a professor at the Department of Literature (ISLN) at the University of Antwerp. His research and publications mainly cover the history of literature (songs) and theatre in the Low Countries during the sixteenth and seventeenth century and the history of the printed book from its invention till 1800.

Dr Goran Proot

is Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Rare Books, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC. He is editor of the book historical journal De Gulden Passer and he is active in the Flanders Book Historical Society. His research focuses on the history of layout and design of Early Modern handpress books.

Dr Stijn van Rossem

is a book historian, started his career at the Short-Title Catalogue, Flanders (STCV). His fields of interest lie primarily in revolutionary imagery and publishing strategies during the Ancien regime. He teaches History of graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent (KASK) and is the current president of the Flemish Book Historical Society.

Dr Dirk Imhof

is curator of rare books and archives at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp. His research focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century book history in Antwerp and the Plantin Press in particular. Together with Karen Bowen he published Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth Century Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2008). His bibliography of the editions of Jan Moretus I, published in Antwerp between 1589 and 1610, will appear in 2014.

Dr. Suzan Folkerts, University of Groningen

is postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Department of History of the University of Groningen. She is a historian of medieval religious culture, specialized in religious books and their users. She worked on medieval historiography, hagiography and, most recently, Bible translations. Having concentrated mainly on manuscripts, she currently studies the readers of the first printed Middle Dutch Bibles in their urban socio-cultural contexts.

Dr. Patricia Stoop

is a member of Department of Literature (ISLN) of the University of Antwerp. Her main research interests are female authorship and authority, nuns’ literacies, and sermon literature in the late medieval and early modern period. She also explored commercial book production in the late Middle Ages.

Dr Els Agten

is a member of the Research Unit of History of Church and Theology at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of KU-Leuven, Belgium. She recently successfully defended her PhD-thesis Meint gy dat gy ook wel verstaet, het gene gy leest?” The Catholic Church and the Dutch Bible: From the Council of Trent to the Jansenist Controversy (1564-1733).

Prof. dr Kees Schepers 

is a member of the Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp. His main research interests are mystical culture in Guelders and the Rhineland, and intellectual culture in the Bois de Soignes. He also explored more recent instances of mystical culture.

MA Jonas Van Mulder

is a member of the Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp. He studied history at the University of Antwerp and the Università Ca’Foscari Venezia. He is preparing a doctoral thesis on the representation of objectivity and subjectivity in late medieval and early modern texts concerning contemporary miracles produced in the Low Countries.

Guus van den Hout, M.A.

studied history of art at the University of Leiden. Caring for artifacts associated with Christian heritage and creating awareness for this often neglected field has always been his passion. As a cultural entrepreneur he works as an independent curator for museums.

How to apply – Conditions

Applicants must be Doctoral or M.A. students/researchers in history, literature or art history, who have worked with medieval or early modern religious texts and have some knowledge of manuscript and print culture. The number of places is limited to ten and priority is given to persons from the 21 countries participating in the COST Action (see the list of participating countries). Basic knowledge of Latin is expected.

The training is free and three nights’ accommodation will be provided. If travel cannot be subsidized at the home university, a letter documenting the unsuccessful application can be sent in to obtain a contribution towards travel cost, to be reimbursed within 60 days after the event. The exact amount of travel subsidies will depend on the overall spendings, but we envisage being able to pay graded contributions to participants depending on the real amount of travel costs incurred, e.g. 50€ to participants from Benelux countries, but c. 200€ to participants traveling longer distances.

Sessions will be conducted in English and participants should bring a portable computer. Commitment: Each participant should present a relevant research project in a fifteen minute presentation, and write up experiences in a short report after the event.

Application papers and deadline

Applicants should submit a single PDF document containing:

  • Cover sheet stating name, nationality, permanent address (including e-mail and telephone), university affiliation, last degree obtained, degree in progress, research director/advisor, research topic.
  • Curriculum vitae (including level of competence in Latin/English/other languages, e.g. good/fair/poor).
  • Letter of incentive describing your experience in the areas of teaching proposed by the Training School, explaining why you are applying and what you expect from the training in the framework of your current resarch (suggested length c. 500 words).
  • Attestation documenting suitability/thematic relevance from research advisor or director.
  • Copy of student ID card.

Applications must be submitted by midnight, 1 July, 2014.

Please send e-mails containing the application as a single PDF document to Sita Steckel,
Successful applicants will be notified by 15 July 2014.

Organization: Prof. dr. August den Hollander (Antwerp/Amsterdam), Junior-Prof. dr. Sita Steckel (Münster), on behalf of COST Action IS1301.


Cite this blog post
Sita Steckel (2014, June 3). Call for Applications: Training School, Antwerp, 29-31 Oct 2014. COST Action IS1301. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

One thought on “Call for Applications: Training School, Antwerp, 29-31 Oct 2014

  1. Pingback: Call for Applications: Training School on “Production and Use of Religious Texts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe” | Ordensgeschichte

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