Networks – Cooperation – Rivalry Conference

The Fourth Biennial Conference of the Medieval Central Europe Research Network
(MECERN)
Online organized by the University of Gdańsk

7–9 April 2021

The conference is open to registered participants. To get information about the registration and get access to the sessions, please send a message to mecerngdansk21@gmail.com. The online conference will be held in Microsoft Teams. In case of any technical difficulty please write also to the above-mentioned email address.

Medieval and Neo-Latin Studies

New Ph.D. programme implemented in collaboration between the Institute of Greek and Latin Studies of the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University
and the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Application deadline is 30 April 2021, admission examinations take place on 14-16 June 2021.

Fellowship

Every student accepted for regular Ph.D program receives a fellowship of 13,000 CZK/month and may apply for further research and travel support and take part in paid research grants. This particular program offers also paid internships at the Academy of Sciences (see below).

Profile of the programme

The Ph.D. programme investigates the history of Latin literature and European culture that used Latin as its means of expression during the period between the fall of Rome, through transformation of the cultural legacy of antiquity during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and the Baroque, and all the way into its rebirth into a subject of scientific investigation and part of cultural life of modern European nations. Latin texts are approached from the perspective of linguistics, palaeography, codicology, literary science, and cultural history, with special emphasis on developments in the Czech Lands. This programme is interdisciplinary and touches upon a number of other areas, including intellectual history, history of religion, and history of books. Doctoral students investigate the theoretical and practical aspects of publication of Latin texts written during the period this programme covers and familiarise themselves with the possibilities of digital humanities. This programme can be taken in Czech or in English. For further information, contact the program guarantor, Lucie Dolezalovâ lucie.dolezalova@ff.cuni.cz

Conditions of admission into the programme

Admission process into this doctoral programme follows the internal regulations of the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University. Candidates must meet, among others, the following conditions:

  • •    Graduation from a master’s programme in Medieval (Latin) Studies or another area of humanities, whereby candidates must demonstrate their knowledge of Latin and of the history of Latin literature.
  • •    Candidates ought to demonstrate suitability for scientific work, professional focus, and good orientation in specialised literature relevant to subjects of this programme. Knowledge of two major modern languages is viewed as an advantage.
  • •    Each candidate must present a project of dissertation thesis, a structured CV, a list of specialised books, and an overview of previous academic activities in accordance with a list of demands defined by the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University (available at phd-programmes: application-and- admission).

Ph.D. internships at the Institute of Philosophy of the CAS

Persons interested in taking the Latin Medieval and Neo-Latin Studies under the supervision of researchers of the Institute of Philosophy may apply for a paid internship at the Institute of Philosophy of the CAS. These internships are granted always for one year with a possibility of extension. Interns actively participate in research activities of the department they select and in other activities of the Institute of Philosophy. It is assumed that candidates will choose a dissertation subject relevant to projects currently conducted at the Institute of Philosophy:

  • •    For the area of Medieval Latin studies (supervisors from the Centre for Medieval Studies): analysis of sources reflecting the religious, cultural, and intellectual diversity of Central Europe in Late Middle Ages, conflicts stemming from this diversity and attempts at their solution;

• For the area of neo-Latin studies (supervisors from the Department of Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History): analysis of various communication media and textual legacy of Early Modern ‘republic of scholars’, including correspondence and various genres of printed production, with emphasis on relations between Latin and vernacular production.

In case you are interested in a Ph.D. internship at the Institute of Philosophy, contact Pavel Soukup (soukup@flu.cas.cz), coordinator of applications for the joint doctoral programme on behalf of the Institute of Philosophy. It is essential that you do so sufficiently in advance of application deadline. Application for doctoral internship should be accompanied by a letter of motivation specifying your idea regarding your work at the Institute of Philosophy and explaining the link between your dissertation thesis and research undertaken at the relevant department or centre. Selected candidates will be, on the day of admission examination, invited for a brief interview at the Institute of Philosophy.

Anyone interested in the program should contact their potential supervisor.

Supervisors at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague

Iva Adámková

I lead dissertations focused on medieval Latin literature (e.g. textual analysis, contextualization, translation). I work on monastic texts, hagiography, texts connected to medieval art. Contact: iva.adamkova@ ff.cuni.cz

Lucie Doležalová

I will happily supervise dissertations on medieval literature and manuscripts. Usual dissertation is an edition an analysis of a so far unedited text, or textual transmission and reception of a particular text. I am interested in obscure texts, but also memory, mnemonic aids, library history, Bible reception, parody, proverbs and digital humanities. Contact: lucie.dolezalova@ff.cuni.cz

Supervisor from the Faculty of Arts, University of Ostrava

Anna Pumprová

I focus on analysis of medieval Latin texts, especially from 12th-14th century Bohemia. I especially enjoy monastic writing – historiography, homiletics, biblical exegesis (commentary of the Song of Songs), or spiritual lyrics. I will happily supervise critical editions, literary-historical studies or translations of a text, e.g. from the Zbraslav monastery, a work of Jan of Jenstejn, ort he sermon collection of Robert of Olomouc. Contact: anna.pumprova@osu.cz.

Supervisors from the Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Centre for Classical Studies

Petr Kitzler

My main focus of interest is Late Classical and Early Christian literature written in Latin (including Czech translations), hagiographies, and intellectual currents in Early Church. Dissertations could therefore focus on any of the following subjects:

  1. 1)     Graeco-Roman cultural and intellectual context of Early Christian literature (e.g. the influence of Classical rhetoric or contemporary philosophical movements) and its literary and intellectual stylisation and reception;
  2. 2)     Latin apologists, especially Tertullian of Carthage;
  3. 3)     Hagiographic literature in Latin (vitae, acta, and passiones martyrum), its diversity in terms of genres, development, and gradual adaptation and reinterpretation in reaction to changing cultural and intellectual climate;
  4. 4)     Latin language in early Christian texts and changes in its semantics in reaction to new religious and cultural contexts;
  5. 5)     Translation of a Latin-written early Christian text with detailed commentary and an introductory study.

Barbora Kocánová

I would be happy to supervise theses in Middle Latin philology and educational/instructional literature on subjects such as:

  1. 1)     Various topics from Middle Latin lexicography and terminology. Theses could focus on e.g. analysis of some lexicographic text, including its edition, or characterisation and analysis of changes within some interesting terminological group;
  2. 2)     Subjects from educational medieval Latin literature. Such theses could deal with, for example, analysis and edition of some Bohemical source, the history of some natural science in the Middle Ages, or sources of academic provenance (e.g. texts based on Prague quodlibets);
  3. 3)     Topics related to the reception of Aristotle in the Middle Ages.

Pavel Nývlt (Centre for Classical Studies)

Dissertation theses I could supervise should focus on Latin Bohemical literature, especially historiography or dictionaries, eventual Latin vocabulary in the Middle Ages. The following are some suggestions of suitable subjects:

  1. 1)     Location of the work in time and space and construction of the person of narrator in select Bohemical chronicles;
  2. 2)     The importance of Velesin’s dictionary for textual criticism of Claretus’s Glossarius;
  3. 3)     Specific features of vocabulary of select Latin Bohemical texts with focus on, e.g., neologisms, occasionalisms, synonyms, or the use of particular works that lack a full semantic meaning.

Centre for Medieval Studies

Pavlína Cermanová

Supervision of dissertations in the area of intellectual history of the Middle Ages with focus on intellectual links and communication channels between centres of education in Central Europe. Theses could also deal with medieval apocalyptic thinking, its sources, spread, and impact on society. Possible subjects include the following:

  1. 1)     Medieval apocalyptic and prophetic literature, both in the vernacular and in Latin;
  2. 2)     Subjects related to the sources, manifestations, and identification strategies of medieval religious radicalism;
  3. 3)     Spread of writings on natural philosophy by manuscripts and their further reception; reconstruction of communication channels among scholars and other ways of sharing texts based on the above;
  4. 4)      Medieval alchemy, its records in writing, alchemistic constructs.

Dušan Coufal

I would be happy to take on doctoral projects on subjects from late medieval intellectual and ecclesiastical history, especially such that also touch upon contemporary political and social events. I feel especially close to work focused on the study of Latin manuscripts, eventually their publication in print. I offer supervision of theses on the following areas:

  1. 1)     Theological production of Central European universities, especially the Prague university (tractates, exegetical commentaries, testimonials);
  2. 2)     The history and written legacy of fifteenth-century councils, especially the Council of Basel;
  3. 3)     Biographies and social activities of university masters;
  4. 4)     Hussite and anti-Hussite thought;
  5. 5)     Controversies surrounding the reception of John Wyclef’s theological and political thought in Bohemia.

Pavel Soukup (Centre for Medieval Studies)

I would be happy to supervise doctoral theses on subjects from the intellectual and cultural history of Late Middle Ages with focus on Central Europe. I feel particularly attracted to the subject of heresies, especially Hussitism, as well as controversial theology and preaching. Given this focus, I would consider the following subjects of theses especially suitable:

  1. 1)     Analysis of handwritten collections of sermons with focus on their structure, the origin of particular pieces, and relations between the text and spoken rendition (for instance, the mystery of Hus’s sermones de primo anno, the so-called postil of Hus’s representatives from 1413, or collections of sermons from the period of formation of the Utraquist Church);
  2. 2)     Investigation of transmission and transformation of Latin texts in their intellectual and social context. Particular topics in this area include the vernacular reception of Wyclef’s Latin writings (comparison of Middle English and Old Czech adaptations); movements of people and texts between medieval universities using Prague and Leipzig as an example; the use and production of instructional texts for preachers in the Czech Lands (artes praedicandi, distinctiones, model sermons);
  3. 3)     An overview of treatment of particular questions in late medieval discussions, e.g. arguments against the freedom of speech in polemics with heresies; Czech ecclesiology during the period of legal coexistence of different Christian denominations; analysis and edition of a selected tractate from the area of anti-Hussite polemics.

Department of Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History

Marcela Slavíková

I would be happy to supervise dissertations focused on Bohemical literature in Early Modern Era, on subjects such as:

  1. 1)     Latin humanist poetry connected with activities of the Prague university prior to 1622, including poetry written in Classical Greek in the context of contemporary Latin production;
  2. 2)     Early Modern Bohemical editions of Classical and humanistic texts, e.g. school editions published for the needs of the university in Leipzig in late fifteenth and early sixteenth century;
  3. 3)     Latin correspondence of John Amos Comenius from editor’s perspective; preparation of a critical edition of a humanist Latin text based on work with manuscripts and old prints.

Lucie Storchova

Supervision of dissertations in the field of humanist literature in the Czech Lands and Central Europe in general, as well as intellectual history of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. Theses could deal with, for instance, the following subjects:

  1. 1)     Literature as part of cultural exchange between Central Europe and other regions, including non-European ones;
  2. 2)     Humanistic literature as part of scholarly self-representation and communication of scholars in the sixteenth century (poetry, correspondence, etc.);
  3. 3)     Travel literature and representation of otherness during the period in question;
  4. 4)     Neo-Latin and vernacular historiography in the sixteenth century;
  5. 5)     Neo-Latin and vernacular literature through the prism of gender studies and queer studies.

Vladimír Urbánek (Department of Comenius Studies)

Supervision of dissertations in the area of intellectual history of Early Modern Era with focus on Bohemical subjects within a wider European context. Subjects may include:

  1. 1)     Research of networks of correspondence of Early Modern ‘republic of scholars’, e.g. subject analysis of correspondence of Comenius and his circle; popularity and changes of meaning of terms such as pansophia (using digital humanities); exile as a subject of scholarly correspondence;
  2. 2)     Prophesy as a literary genre and medium of communication in the seventeenth century: prophesies, visions, and revelations as a literary genre and their reception by readers; the relationship between vernacular and Latin versions of prophesies published by Comenius; textual transmission of prophesies from a vernacular manuscript, through a printed Latin version, and all the way to re-contextualisation in collections of prophesies.
  3. 3)     The influence of Early Modern neo-stoicism in Central European environment, e.g. a comparison of Lipsius’s De constantia and its contemporary translations (including Comenius’s Czech paraphrase in Truchlivy).

Department for the Study of Ancient and Medieval Thought

Pavel Blažek

I would be happy to supervise doctoral theses on subjects from late medieval philosophy and theology and, more generally, topics from the intellectual history of Late Medieval Era. Theses could focus on for instance the following subjects:

  1. 1)     Medieval Aristotelianism and late medieval reception of Aristotle. Particular topics include the use of Aristotle in medieval sacramental theology; reception and adaptation of Aristotle’s theories on the genesis of community, on virtues, and on friendship in medieval commentaries on the Politics and/or Nicomachean Ethics; Aristotelianism in medieval political discourses (e.g. in De regimine principum by Aegidius Romanus); transmission and adaptation of various medieval pseudo-Aristotelian writings;
  2. 2)     Family, marriage, and family relations in medieval philosophical, theological, and legal literature. Particular subjects include: relations between men and women or children and parents in medieval commentaries on the Politics, Nicomachean Ethics, and pseudo­Aristotelian Ethics; the concept of childhood and youth in medieval commentaries on the Rhetoric; ideals of Christian upbringing in medieval instructive texts on the upbringing of children (Vincent of Beauvais, Jean Gerson, etc.); on arranging marriage, inseparability of marriage, marital sexuality, and marriage of Mary and Joseph in medieval commentaries on the Sentences by Peter of Lombardy;
  3. 3)     Critical editions of previously unpublished medieval philosophical and theological writings.

Penn-EUSP Dual M.A. Program in Russian and East European Studies

The University of Pennsylvania and the European University at St. Petersburg have opened admissions for a dual-degree M.A. program in Russian and East European Studies, which will welcome its first cohort of students this coming fall.

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

European University at St. Petersburg is a non-state graduate university, one of the leading institutions in humanities and social sciences in Russia.


Students in the Penn-EUSP Dual-Degree M.A. in REES spend one year at Penn, followed by a summer and a year at EUSP, engage in archival or field research leading to a thesis, and undertake intensive language study. In distinction from many area studies programs, in our program each student will pursue a specified academic discipline of concentration represented among our faculty (anthropology, art history, demography, film studies, history, international business studies, international relations, Jewish studies, literary and cultural history, medieval studies, political science, sociology, etc.). English is the main language of instruction for this program at both UPenn and EUSP. In addition, a wide choice of courses taught in Russian are available at EUSP. At the program’s conclusion, students receive coordinated M.A. degrees from both Penn and EUSP. Graduates of the program will be well prepared to pursue either further study at the Ph.D. level or to go on to careers in government service, think tanks and business in the United States, their home countries or internationally.

Applications for this program are due on March 22. Note as well that fellowships will be available for a number of applicants on a competitive basis, thanks to a generous gift from Polymetal International, Plc. A seed grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York made the launch of this program at Penn possible.

You and your students can learn more about the Penn-EUSP Dual-Degree M.A. in REES at our websites: https://rees.sas.upenn.edu/graduate/university-pennsylvania-european-university-st-petersburg-dual-ma-program-russian-and-east and https://eupenn.eusp.org/

Any questions that arise can be directed to Prof. Kevin M. F. Platt at Penn (kmfplatt@sas.upenn.edu) and Dr. Gevorg Avetikyan at EUSP (avetikyan@eu.spb.ru).

Zoom Public Lectures in Winter 2021

January 20, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Ottó Gecser (ELTE, Budapest)
Plague, Religion, and the Fear of Infection in Fifteenth-Century Perugia

February 3, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Tara Andrews (University of Vienna)
TBA


February 17, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Claudia Rapp (University of Vienna)
New Religion – New Society? Aspects of the Impact of Christianity in Late Antiquity


March 3, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Tijana Krstić (CEU)
Comparing Religions and Confessions in Early Modern Ottoman Empire


March 10, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Danuta Shanzer (University of Vienna)
Some Readings of Clerical Masculinity and Violence in the Early Middle Ages

March 17, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Frances Kneupper (Institute for Advanced Study at CEU; University of Mississippi)
Female Prophets Transcending Gender Expectations during the Great Schism –
The Revelations of Constance of Rabastens and Marie Robine

March 24, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Pavlína Rychterová (University of Vienna)
The Hussite Reformation and the Transformation of Social Identities in Late Medieval Bohemia

March 31, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. CET
Judit Majorossy (University of Vienna)
TBA

Zoom Availability:
https://ceu-edu.zoom.us/j/98138118684?pwd=MDZmSkdiSjJCSk9WczBVbCtaeTg3Zz09
Meeting ID: 981 3811 8684
Passcode: medspub

Call for Papers: Networks – Cooperation – Rivalry

The Fourth Biennial Conference of the Medieval Central Europe Research Network

Online, organized by the University of Gdańsk, 7–9 April 2021

After successful conferences in Budapest (2014), Olomouc (2016) and Zagreb (2018), the Fourth Biennial Conference of MECERN (postponed from 2020 and moved to an online format) will examine the building of networks in Central Europe, as well as between Central Europe and other parts of Europe and the wider world. It will raise the question whether this process was based on cooperation or competition, on solidarity or rivalry, and will trace the short and long-term impacts, and eventual disintegration of these networks. In other words, the conference will explore medieval Central Europe as a conglomerate of structured and interrelated, but often changeable ties. By invoking new paradigms, this approach encourages historians from Central Europe or writing about Central Europe to reject the national perspective and national myths concerning this subject.


Due to the move to the online format, the Organizing Committee has decided to open the
possibility for new applicants to propose papers for a short additional period. We welcome
proposals from scholars at all stage of career, researching all aspects of medieval past, from political, social, cultural, economic, ecclesiastical, urban, artistic, material, literary, intellectual and legal history. Having Central Europe as their starting point, papers and session proposals may address the following issues:

  • rivalry and competition for power in Central Europe
  • building Central European alliances; dynastic connections, including contacts with
    Western Europe and wider Eurasia
  • temporary and permanent agreements or contracts of an economic, social or political
    nature
  • network building between families, kin-groups, social groups, economic organisations;
    trade contacts
  • Church connections and rivalry in Central Europe and beyond
  • religious organisations, brotherhoods, networks of monasteries and monks
  • medieval schools and universities as places of networking
  • the development of the idea of networks in the Middle Ages
  • networks of law; legal ties between cities
  • inclusion and exclusion: developments outside the network structure
  • artistic aspects of networks (the existence of artists’ networks)
  • material culture and of objects – what archaeology says about networks
  • modern historiography on networks; the concepts of rivalry and cooperation in the
    Middle Ages

Both individual and panel submissions are encouraged. Papers are twenty minutes long. In
addition, the call is open for poster presentations. A poster session will include five-minute
presentations from each accepted poster presented.

Deadline for submissions: 23 January 2021

Please submit a 250-word abstract and a one-page CV to  mecerngdansk21@gmail.com
Expected registration fee: 30 EUR, PhD students: reduced fee 20 EUR

Accepted participants will be notified by 15 February 2021

International conference: The Mongol Invasion of Hungary and Its Eurasian Context

The Mongol Invasion of Hungary and Its Eurasian Context project cordially invites you to the international workshop

The Mongols in Central Europe: The Profile and Impact of their Thirteenth-Century Invasions

the conference will be broadcast on Zoom
26 November https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89821700042…
Meeting ID: 898 2170 0042
Passcode: 18KY1P
27 November:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89698677998?pwd=THljQWYxNHIrVEZLWGllck54ZytLZz09 Meeting ID: 896 9867 7998 Passcode: gR1m9B

Program:
26 November 2020

12:30–12:45 Balázs Nagy: Welcome

12:45–13:50 Moderator: István Vásáry
Greetings of Batbayar Zeneemyadar, Ambassador of Mongolia to Hungary
Balázs Nagy: The Mongol Invasion of Hungary and its Central European Context
Attila Bárány: The Response of the West to the Mongol Invasion: 1241-1270

13:50–14:00 Coffee break

14:00–15:15 Moderator: Christopher P. Atwood
Stephen Pow: The Historicity of Ivo of Narbonne’s Account of a Mongol Attack on “Neustat”
Konstantin Golev: Crime and Punishment: The Mongol Invasion, the Cuman-Qïpchaq Refugees and the Second Bulgarian Empire
Dorottya Uhrin: Beheading Among Nomads

13:50–14:00 Coffee break

15:30–16:45 Moderator: Konstantin Golev
Adam Lubocki: Mongol Invasion of Hungary
in the Light of Polish Medieval Sources
Tomaš Somer: Sources on the Mongol Invasion of the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1241
Matthew Coulter: Patterns of Communication during the 1241 Mongol Invasion: Insights from the Ottobeuren Letter Collection

16:45–17:00 Coffee break

17:00–18:00 Moderator: István Vásáry

Keynote lecture: Christopher P. Atwood: Mongolian Sources on the Great Western Expedition: Some Analytical Comments

27 November 2020

12:30–13:45 Moderator: Alexander Nikolov
Mirko Sardelić: “Quasi per aerem volans”:
The Mongols on the Adriatic Coast (AD 1242)
Aleksandar Uzelac: The Kingdom of Hungary and Ulus of Nogai: The Contest for Regional Supremacy at the End of the Thirteenth Century
Ágnes Birtalan: Hungarian Oral Narratives (Hung. népmonda) about the Mongolian Campaign

13:45–14:00 Coffee break

14:00–15:15 Moderator: Beatrix Romhányi
Zsuzsanna Papp Reed: Inscribing the Mongol Invasion into History: The Chronica Majora and Beyond
Alexander Nikolov: From the Pontic Steppes to Anatolia: The Cuman Refugees from the “Mongol Storm” between 1237 and 1242Ning Ya: Should the Papal Envoys Bring Gifts for the Mongols? The Role of Polish and Russian Intelligence Information in the Mission of John of Plano Carpini Compared to that of Ascelin of Lombardy

15:15–15:30 Coffee break

15:30–16:45 Moderator: Mirko Sardelić
Zsolt Pinke: Long-Term Eco-historical Studies for the Wetlands of the Great Hungarian Plain in the Context of the Mongol Invasion
József Laszlovszky: New Archaeological Finds and their Interpretation in the Context of the Mongol Invasion of Hungary
Michal Holeščák: Mongol Invasion of 1241-1242 North of the Danube: Orda Khan´s Trail to Esztergom

16:45–17:00 Coffee break

17:00–18:10 Moderator: József Laszlovszky
Beatrix Romhányi: Traces of the Mongol Invasion in the Settlement Network of the Kingdom of Hungary: Questions, Answers and Doubts
Béla Zsolt Szakács: The Mongol Invasion and the Early Church Architecture in the Szepes/Spiš/Zips Region
Jack Wilson: The Mongols and the Internet: Online Outreach on the Chinggisid Empire, 2018-2020

18:10–18:25 Conclusions and farewell

https://www.facebook.com/events/362561291500347

Call for Papers, Before the Anthropocene: Medieval concepts of interdependent human-nature-relations

Leeds (UK), International Medieval Congress 2021: Climates

Date 5-8 July 2021

Deadline: 20 September 2020

Contact: Martin Bauch   http://dantean.hypotheses.org

In recent decades, climate history and historical climatology have focused on the economic and social impacts of long-term climatic changes like those which occurred during the Medieval Climate Anomaly or the Little Ice Age. Contemporary worries about global climate patterns have posed new, urgent questions to historians of climate: How did past societies perceive periods of rapid climate change? To what extent were they affected—not only economically, but also in their thinking about the relationship between humans and nature? Traditionally, climate history has focused on reconstruction and impact studies, which implies all too often a one-way relationship: Nature influencing human societies, with humanity merely reacting.

With the emergence of the concept of the Anthropocene, humanity has been recognized as a geological force responsible for fundamental and lasting changes of nature, not least concerning weather conditions via anthropogenic climate change. This raises questions about the degree of reciprocity and interdependence in the relationship between humans and nature. The human ability to reflect about its own agency regarding the course of nature, or the idea that humanity and nature share a common history, have been acknowledged as a postmodern disruption of established explanations of socio-natural relationships (D. Chakrabarty).

However, the distinction between the course of nature and the course of history has been established only since the eighteenth century and recent research made it clear that past societies were already able to think reflexively on their impact on the global environment. Indeed, premodern societies in general and medieval contemporaries in particular, had a very different view: they often assumed that human behavior influenced natural conditions, particularly weather. These assumptions were mediated in religious concepts that crossed into the spheres of politics and economy. Both European and non-European societies accepted the notion that “bad” human actions would backlash in inclement weather while “good” behavior would lead to benevolent conditions. Not only in a Christian context has this relationship often been interpreted by historians rather simplistically as a “retributive theology”. Nevertheless, this cosmological background held much greater social implications, as medieval populations assumed they had a causal influence on weather conditions, and vice versa. A recent example of such an approach has been a new study by Jean-Pierre Devroey on the “righteousness” (droiture) of the Carolingian emperors as a major feature of rulership at that time. Devroey convincingly demonstrates that eighth- and ninth-century thinkers shared a common theory of the “cosmic” dimension of the king that clearly connected good government with the fortune of weather and, consequently, harvests. In the end, he proposes that Carolingian legal-administrative reforms were chronologically connected to bad harvests caused by climate stress and hence constituted a direct political implication of this theoretical background.

The medieval interdependency of humans and nature plays out on at least two different levels: On the one hand, scholars’ written discourses—e.g. treatises, chronicles, letters, and homilies, etc.—give insight into the underlying theories, at least from the point of view of the elites, of the relationship between humanity and nature from Late Antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages in Europe and other parts of the world. On the other hand, sources on economic, infrastructural, and social/institutional history provide information, albeit indirectly, on periods of short-term climate change, as these periods eventually called for specific social adaptation processes. This documentation not only sheds light on the practical reactions of past societies facing abrupt phases of climate change but also enables us to identify underlying theoretical assumptions. Subsequently, this would allow to reconstruct societal adaptions and to examine, at the same time, how specific perceptions of nature shaped these reactions.

To address these issues, we welcome papers dealing with all areas of the globe and from scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. The following questions might serve as possible starting points for paper proposals:

  • To what extent was the interaction between humans and nature—for example, in phases of rapid climate change in the medieval period—truly seen as reciprocal?
  • If the courses of history and nature are not separated in medieval mentalities, to what degree do contemporary witnesses credit natural events with influencing the course of human history?
  • To what extent were natural extreme events used to argue for specific social, economic, religious, and political goals?
  • Was this influence of humans on nature always limited to the context of simple retributive theology, or are other established cultural patterns decisive?
  • Were pragmatic, seemingly modern, i.e. “technocratic” reactions (like institutional reform and infrastructural responses) to natural extreme events in accordance or at odds with religious and cultural discourses?

Thanks to a generous support by our Leipzig-based home institution, the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), we will be able to provide limited funds to reimburse the conference fees and other costs for early career researchers from Eastern and Eastern Central Europe.

A publication of the conference papers is planned. We encourage interested colleagues to submit 300 words abstracts for 20-minute papers by 20 September 2020.

Please submit them by e-mail to: martin.bauch@leibniz-gwzo.de

János M. Bak research fellowship: Call for applications

The Board of the János M. Bak Fellowship on Medieval Central Europe invites applications for its 2021 Fellowship.  With sadness, we also mark in this way, the passing of Professor Bak and wish to remember and take forward his legacy.

The Fellowship will be awarded to an early- or mid-career researcher (upper limit 15 years from the award of the PhD, excluding periods of maternity/paternity leave) who has already shown significant contribution to the research of medieval Central Europe in any field of study in the period between 800 and 1600 CE. The fellowship is open to scholars of any nationality, irrespective of employment status. While hosted by the Department of Medieval Studies at Central European University, Budapest, Janos Bak Fellows will be accommodated in the Raoul Wallenberg Guesthouse. It is required to be resident in Budapest for the duration of the fellowship and to take an active part in the research culture of the Department of Medieval Studies. We particularly encourage projects that make an explicit use of academic, archival, library or museum resources in Budapest. The fellows will also have the possibility to associate themselves with one of the workgroups of the CEU Democracy Institute, and make a medievalist contribution to their themes (such as “the rule of law”, “media and digital technologies”, “inequalities” and, especially, “the history of ideas and practices of democracy”).

Applicants to the fellowship have to submit a CV, a list of publications and a research plan (c. 500 words) and to propose an output such as an article, book chapter, exhibition, film, or other form of publication. Fellows will be asked to hold a public lecture at CEU and be available for consultation to CEU students. As a part of the selection process the shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview (via video-conferencing), in which they will be expected to elaborate on their research plans during the fellowship and the engagement with the host department at the CEU.

The duration of the fellowship in 2021 will be three months, from April to June 2021. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend in the value of EUR 2000 (with a possibility of reimbursement of visa costs, if applicable). Please send your application package to bakfellowship@ceu.edu by 30 November 2020. If you have further questions please contact Professor Emilia Jamroziak, the Chair of the Board of the Fellowship at E.M.Jamroziak@leeds.ac.uk .

MECERN mourns the passing of Professor M. János Bak (1929-2020)

MECERN mourns the passing of Professor János Bak (1929-2020), co-founder and intellectual inspirer of our Network. We commemorate him with Professor Gábor Klaniczay’s obituary published on the website of the Department of Medieval Studies at CEU.

 

János M. Bak

(1929-2020)

 

János M. Bak, founding member and Professor Emeritus of CEU Department of Medieval Studies has passed away on 18 June, at the age of 91. Until the last moment of his life, he was an engaged scholar, an authoritative and caring professor, an indefatigable worker for an international cooperation for the advancement of learning and the broadening of the ‘Republic of Letters’. When mourning and remembering him, let us recall a few things of his rich, adventurous, life – the Festschrift he received from us when he was 70, was entitled The Man of Many Devices, Who Wandered Full Many Ways The adventures started towards the end of World War II, when he had to survive as a teenager the Holocaust, with tricks and hiding in Arrow-Cross dominated Budapest. Subsequently, after a brief period of enthusiastic conversion to Marxism, he quickly got disillusioned from the unfolding Stalinist regime, and he became an active participant in the 1956 revolution. At its defeat he left Hungary and earned a medieval studies doctorate in Göttingen, as a pupil of Percy Ernst Schramm. As a postgraduate, he spent two years in Oxford, then worked at the University of Marburg, and published a much-cited monograph on ‘Kingdom and estates in late medieval Hungary’. In 1966 he moved to the US and subsequently to Canada, he became professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. As a member of the world-wide community of 1956 émigré intellectuals, he was very active in supporting Hungarian colleagues with books, invitations, scholarships, publication opportunities. At the same time, he became a major organizer in international medieval studies. After some years of investment into the history of ‘East-Central Europe’, and ‘peasant studies’, in the 1980s he organized Majestas, a scholarly association for the study of rulership, which functioned for two decades, organized many successful conferences and published a review with the same name.

When he retired as Professor Emeritus from Vancouver in 1993, it was not for having a rest, but for joining a new, ever-more demanding academic adventure: building a Department of Medieval Studies at the recently founded CEU in Budapest. He brought home his world-wide network and made the largest contribution in turning our department a thriving new center in this field. And this was not only thanks to his high-class German and American experience, but above all thanks to his passionate engagement with the wonderful, passionate, enthusiastic international group of our graduate students. Like probably all other departments in CEU, our seminars became fascinating scholarly workshops combining hidden treasures of local knowledge with high standards of cutting-edge international scholarship. And, in all this, János was a lively, critical, once funny and cheerful, other times nervous and grumpy participant, sometimes scaring students to death with angry explosions, but then giving them due respect, fatherly protection and friendly encouragement – multiple generations of students are weeping now over this departure. The efficient and warmly human impact on the formation of future scholars was paired by his tireless organizational drive: after Majestas he initiated research projects on the comparative history of medieval nobility, on the ‘uses and abuses’ of the Middle Ages, on source-repertory handbooks.  He started a bilingual source edition series entitled Central European Medieval Texts (11 volumes at CEU Press), he published in 5 volumes the ‘Laws of Medieval Hungary’. He retired form CEU as Professor Emeritus in 2007, but he kept being active: he played a key role in the foundation of MECERN, Medieval Central European Network in 2013 – he corrected the proofs of his chapter in a new OUP Handbook on Medieval Central Europe last week, a few days before his death. He had several injuries during the past years, he walked with a stick, but he took the effort, until this winter, to come to CEU for listening to the MA or PhD defenses of his students, or to hear the public lectures of his younger colleagues or his friends, colleagues from the world-wide company. We were exceptionally fortunate to have him as a friend and a colleague for three decades, his departure is a great loss for us, for CEU and for medievalist scholarship around the world.

To conclude this obituary let me quote the words of our rector, Michael Ignatieff: “I knew Janos for 40 years, as a scholar, friend, bon vivant, intellectual provocateur. He embodied the spirit of CEU at its best: morally serious, intellectually irreverent, and fiercely loyal to ideals. We will all miss him.”

And another word by Patrick Geary: “May his memory be a blessing for us all”

 

Gábor Klaniczay

 

Call for Papers, IMC 2020, Leeds: ‘Observants on the borders. Religious and Political challenges in Central and Eastern Europe in the Quattrocento’

The aim of these sessions is to promote the dialogue within Medieval Studies on the fifteenth century involving a focus on the Observant movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the fifteenth century. This area of research has been largely neglected by Anglophone scholarship in the past and we believe that the study of religious orders can foster the integration of different historiographical traditions. We would like to gather researchers interested on this area and welcome papers that discuss and highlight the contribution of religious orders on politics, culture, and society.

In the landscape of the consolidation of the papacy after the end of the Great Schism, Central and Eastern Europe represented a stage of intense diplomatic and missionary activity supported by the Roman Church to gain authority and control over the Christendom. The Observant movements, mostly the Franciscan one, but not only, played and essential role in strengthen relations between local powers and laypeople, Church and monarchs. Observants formed a forefront against the dissidence of heretics, Jews, and schismatics. As papal agents, Observants were also responsible to organize a unitary Anti-Ottoman front. The most emblematic example is the mission of the Observant friar John of Capistrano between 1451 and 1456 culminating in the battle of Belgrade.

Proposals may include but are certainly not limited to the following topics:

  • Hussite heresy controversy
  • Sermons, preaching, and social issues
  • Tensions, reforms and divisions within religious orders
  • Anti-Ottoman front
  • Observants and the Central and Eastern European dynasties
  • Missions, conversions, settlements, and the challenges of local contexts.
  • Adaptation and implementation of Observant ideas on the frontiers of Latin Christendom
  • Conflict/agreement with priests and bishops

Abstracts of approximatively 200 words should be sent to Andrea Mancini (hyam@leeds.ac.uk), or Pawel Cholewicki (P.Cholewicki@leeds.ac.uk) Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds, by 27 September 2019. For further information about the Leeds International Medieval Congress 2020, please visit this website: https://www.imc.leeds.ac.uk/imc2020/