Archives de catégorie : Ressources en ligne

« Les usages sociaux de la honte » : synopsis des communications en ligne

Un mois avant la tenue du colloque consacré à la honte au Moyen Âge et à l’époque moderne, les organisateurs viennent d’avoir l’heureuse initiative de mettre en ligne un fascicule bilingue de plus de 120 pages qui présente l’ensemble des communications. Une aubaine pour tous ceux qui ne pourront se rendre sur place, en attendant la publication des actes.

« Passions in context » : une nouvelle revue en ligne consacrée à l’histoire des émotions

Une nouvelle revue en ligne consacrée à l’histoire des émotions vient de voir le jour : « Passions in context : International Journal for the History and Theory of Emotions ». Elle est éditée par Annalise Acorn (Université d’Alberta, Edmonton) et Rüdiger Zill (Einstein Forum, Potsdam). La revue annonce vouloir privilégier une approche interdisciplinaire, ouverte aux apports des sciences de l’émotion, et multilingue de l’histoire des émotions : une excellente initiative même s’il est un peu dommage que les éditeurs considèrent que les innovations de la recherche dans ce domaine se cantonnent au monde germanique et anglo-saxon : »In particular in the English speaking world and in Germany are developing special centers for the research in the history and theory of emotions »…

On saluera tout particulièrement la totale liberté d’accès des articles de la revue. Dans ce premier numéro, le Moyen Âge est à l’honneur avec des articles de Barbara Rosenwein et de Gerd Althoff. Tous nos vœux de réussite de la part d’EMMA à cette prometteuse revue !

Project: Embodied Emotions

Embodied Emotions

Award Holder

Alistair Campbell

Higher Education Institute

Department of Drama & Centre for the History of the Emotions
Queen Mary, University of London

Source : Beyond Text

The Embodied Emotions project is led by Ali Campbell (QMUL, Drama) in collaboration with Thomas Dixon (Director of the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions), Clare Whistler (independent performance artist and opera director), and film maker Bhavesh Hindocha.

The project will use academic research and artistic practice to examine current educational policy goals and deliver innovative classroom practices.

Since 2005 the government has been promoting new initiatives to develop ‘Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning’ (SEAL). In April 2009, Sir Jim Rose published his Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum. One of his report’s four priorities is ‘Personal Development’. Under the heading ‘Essentials for Learning and Life’, Rose expresses the hope that the new curriculum will help children manage their own feelings and become aware of the feelings of others. He recommends role-play and drama as ways to develop these emotional skills, and makes approving mention of a project piloted in Durham enabling children to create dance sequences expressing their emotions.

Embodied Emotions will develop a an educational programme, in consultation with a primary school in East London, to help deliver such objectives as these, bringing together historians, performers, educators, and children to investigate how bodily movements and facial expressions mediate between inward feelings and the outside world.

This work will expand the community-based applied performance practice developed by Ali Campbell, in consultation with Clare Whistler, over several years. Other outcomes of Embodied Emotions will include a journal article, a series of short films, and a one-day event in August 2010. Queen Mary, University of London is an international focus for research into the emotions, thanks to its interdisciplinary Centre for the History of the Emotions, launched in November 2008.

Deux monographies autour des émotions médiévales en accès libre sur « Gutenberg-e »

Depuis quelques mois, l’accès au fonds numérisé du site « Gutenberg-e« , qui met en ligne des monographies récentes publiées par Columbia University Press, est entièrement libre. Nous signalons deux études directement tournées vers les émotions médiévales:

– William F. Maclehose, « A Tender Age » : Cultural Anxieties over the Child in the Twelfth anb the Thirteenth Centuries, Columbia University Press.

– Lindgren, Erika Lauren, Sensual Encounters: Monastic Women and Spirituality in Medieval Germany,  New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Un compte-rendu du livre de E.L. Lindgren vient de paraître dans The Medieval Review (21 / 06/ 2010) :

Reviewed by David F. Tinsley

University of Puget Sound

Dominican women’s spirituality continues to provide fertile ground for exploring spiritual alternatives available to aristocratic and patrician women within the patriarchal hierarchy of the Order of Preachers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  The mendicants’

reluctant and limited sanctioning of women’s houses was motivated above all by the desire to contain a mass revelatory movement spearheaded by women’s search for alternatives to traditional roles, a movement whose power the male clerics not only recognized, but also feared and envied.  Peter Dinzelbacher encapsulates beautifully their awestruck response in the words of the Franciscan, Lamprecht of Regensburg, « I would not care what anyone said of me, if I could only lose my senses in the same way they do. »  The Dominican women’s houses generated their own « hagiography, » compiled and composed by sisters for sisters in order to celebrate the lives of famous sisters.  They inspired searing revelations like those of Margarete Ebner, Adelheid Langemann, and Elsbeth von Oye, and they were the setting for fruitful interaction that brought great Dominican mystics and confessors like Meister Eckhart, Henry Suso, and Johannes Tauler into pastoral relationships and, in Suso’s case, creative collaboration with Dominican sisters like Elsbeth Stagel.

It is useful to remind ourselves how this rich literature was ignored or dismissed for decades as epigonal and inferior by <i>Altgermanisten</i>.  Thanks to the dissertations of Georg Kunze in Hamburg (1952), Hester Gehring at Michigan (1957), and Walter Blank in Freiburg (1962), along with the pioneering study by Herbert Grundmann (1961), the Dominican women’s literature gained a foothold within medieval studies.  The work of Siegfried Ringler (1980), Otto Langer (1987), Ursula Peters (1988), Peter Dinzelbacher (1993), and Ruth Meyer (1995) in Europe, along with the groundbreaking work by Gertrud Jaron Lewis (1996) in North America, has won widespread acceptance of the legitimacy of these texts.  I was already familiar with Lindgren’s excellent dissertation, <i>Environment and Spirituality of German Dominican Women, 1230-1370</i>, completed in 2001 under the direction of Constance Berman at the University of Iowa, having cited it in my own study of Dominican women’s asceticism, <i>The Scourge and the Cross</i> (2010).  I am therefore pleased to review the thoroughly revised adaptation that Lindgren published in print and as an e-book through Columbia University Press in 2009.

In this volume Lindgren attempts nothing less than a « history of the sensual environment » that surrounded nuns of the Order of Preachers from the founding of their houses until the onset of the reform movement that swept through the Dominican houses like a spiritual tsunami, beginning around 1370.  Her goal is to explore « the entire surrounding in which these women were immersed, incorporating the architecture in which they dwelt, the objects that decorated those spaces, the books they read, and the sounds and silences which they created, heard, and observed » (2).  Following an introduction to Dominican women’s spirituality, the book is organized into four

chapters: Space; Sight; Sound; and Seeing and Hearing, essentially a chapter on what the nuns read and sang.  The introduction and the conclusion highlight the <i>vita</i> of the novice Kathrin Brümsin, which contains a dream-vision that she had of John the Evangelist who taught her a twenty-four-verse sequence that was subsequently performed often at the convent of Katharinenthal.  The book’s apparatus includes the Middle Latin and Middle High German texts of the Brümsin sequence; statistical tables on the Dominican Order in the fourteenth century and its liturgical books; and bibliographies of unpublished primary sources, published primary sources, and secondary sources.  There is no index, probably because the e-book version, available at no cost on-line (,

is fully searchable.  The e-book contains the sections noted above, plus a gallery of images, including photographs of the architectural spaces that have survived, along with key illuminations, initials, and miniatures to which Lindgren refers in the course of her study.

Readers should note that the hard-copy version of the book contains none of the images.  Thus, it is highly recommended that readers access the on-line version or work with the on-line or e-book version on their computers if they choose to buy the print edition.

The diversity of sources, touching on virtually every aspect of Dominican spiritual life, is a principal strength of Lindgren’s book.

She uses three of the so-called Sister-Books from the Dominican monasteries of Adelhausen, Unterlinden, and St. Katharinenthal.  The Sister-Books (<i>Nonnenbücher</i>, <i>Schwesternbücher</i>, <i>Nonnenviten</i>, Convent Chronicles) refer to nine collections of spiritual biographies, convent histories, and anecdotes compiled by nuns of the Order of Preachers from the lives of exemplary sisters, beginning in the fourteenth century and continuing throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.  The women’s communities that generated and continually revised these collections included the convents of Adelhausen, Engelthal, Gotteszell, Katherinenthal (Dießenhofen), Kirchberg, Oetenbach, Töss, Unterlinden, and Weiler, all of which were located in today’s Alsace, Switzerland, Swabia, and Bavaria.  In addition to the three Sister-Books just named, Lindgren examines psalters, graduals, diurnals, martyrologies, collectars, and sanctorals from the Dominican monasteries such as St. Agnes, St.

Katharina, and the Penitents of St. Maria Magdalena in Freiburg, Germany, as well as the Rule of St. Augustine, the Dominican constitutions, sermons, and devotional writings by Johannes Tauler and Henry Suso, and a wealth of other texts.

The chapter on space concerns itself with two key questions, first, what was considered sacred space within Dominican monasteries, and, second, to what degree were the nuns in these houses actually enclosed.  Although Lindgren concedes that neither question can be answered definitely, she uses accounts from the Sister-Books to re- envision sacred space–such as the nuns’ choirs–as defined by dynamic spiritual encounters, especially visions, that the « women used to actively signify their religiosity in ways that were understood by the other female inhabitants of the community » (39).  Her discussion of infirmaries, refectories, kitchens, dormitories, workrooms, gardens, and especially of the cloister arcade demonstrates how « Dominican women blurred the lines [between designated spatial function and expected conduct], using their actions to give the spaces importance or functions never intended by the authors of the constitutions and other documents » (50).  Lindgren reframes the question of enclosure by a nuanced study of cloister windows, showing how their size, design, and decoration served to restrict or to open visual or physical access to the outside.

The chapter on sight focuses on « items and artifacts that were seen by cloistered women » (58).  I found the sections to be particularly insightful on <i>Christus-Johannes-Gruppen</i> as a reflection of devotion to John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, as well as on surviving wall hangings such as the <i>Wappen-Teppich</i> of Adelhausen and the <i>Malterer-Teppich</i> from St. Katharina of Freiburg as reflections of worldly presence within the cloister.  In general, this is the most derivative section of the book, and it could have benefited by engaging some of the work by Jeffrey Hamburger on pre-reform Dominican art, especially Suso’s devotional art.

In her chapter on sound, Lindgren contrasts the severe injunctions concerning the maintenance of silence with both ritualized and spontaneous breaking of this silence.  The section on ritual sounds includes discussions of bells and « the banging of the board » as transitional signals, an examination of the evidence for nuns’

preaching and for what sermons they probably heard, and a wonderful section on spontaneous vocalization in the form of weeping, shouting, and breaking into song.  In the process Lindgren redefines our understanding of cloistered silence by showing how these nuns « created a rich and varied acoustic environment around themselves, one that was found in all parts of the monastery, and, through the existence of the windows, one that could extend beyond the confines of the community »


The chapter on seeing and hearing is worth the price of the book alone, in that it catalogues and describes the manuscripts–beyond the Sister-Books and constitutions–produced and used by Dominican women of the pre-reform era.  Specialists who do not read German or do not have access to manuscript libraries now have a list of psalters, graduals, antiphonals, martyrologies, and other manuscripts, augmented by Lindgren’s analysis of how these <i>Gebrauchstexte</i> reflect the rich and nuanced spirituality that the nuns developed around exemplars such as John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalen.  For this section, access to the images of the e-text will be essential.

Lindgren’s approach to the material does raise two minor concerns, one bibliographical and one theoretical.  The bibliography does not seem to have been substantially updated beyond about 2000, except for citations of Anne Winston-Allen’s  <i>Convent Chronicles</i> (2004) and Alison Beach’s <i>Women as Scribes</i> (2004).  So there are no references to the Notre Dame anthology on Dominican spirituality, <i>Christ among the Medieval Dominicans</i> (1998), or to Barbara Helbling’s anthology on the mendicants in Zurich <i>Bettelorden, Brüderschaften und Beginen</i> (2002), or to Rebecca Garber’s chapter on the Sister-Books in <i>Feminine Figurae</i> (2004), or to Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner’s anthology of Dominican penitent women’s writings (2005).  More importantly, I would have loved for Lindgren to engage the ideas of Jeffrey Hamburger as set forth in <i>The Visual and the Visionary</i> (1998) or to reference Peter Dinzelbacher’s application of <i>mentalité</i>-studies to Dominican women’s spirituality in <i>Europäische Mentalitätsgeschichte</i> (1993).  She cites these authors in the footnotes, but there is no sustained discussion of or response to their ideas, something that might have enriched her analysis considerably.

My other quibble involves Lindgren’s approach to the historicity of the Sister-Books, an issue that provoked a vehement yet productive debate between Ringler and Dinzelbacher in the 1980s.  For example, when the novice Kathrin Brümsin is reported to have had a vision in which John the Evangelist teaches her a sequence, should this report be read as a fictional construct drawn from hagiography and visionary literature, as Ringler argued, or is it impossible to rule out the possibility that Kathrin actually had such a vision, as Dinzelbacher claimed?  In her discussion of sources in the introduction, as well as in her citations from the Sister-Books throughout the volume, Lindgren appears to accept the historicity of narrated events, arguing that « these sources describe the behavior and beliefs of female monastics in their own words, unfiltered by the reworkings of male advisors »

(12).  But this essentialist argument begs the question of the authors’ and compilers’ own literary sophistication.  If Lindgren is willing to grant these Dominican women the ability to shape their spiritual environment by their actions, often in defiance of restrictions imposed by the patriarchy, why is it not possible for the sophisticated and literate authors of the Sister-Books to shape the narrative of events by incorporating motifs from hagiography and revelatory writing?  And doesn’t such a possibility problematize the historicity of such narratives?

Erika Lauren Lindgren’s solid study of spaces, sounds, and images in Dominican women’s spirituality is a welcome addition to Gertrud Jaron Lewis’s groundbreaking <i>By Women</i>, Marie-Luise Ehrenschwendter’s work on Dominican women’s libraries, Jeffrey Hamburger’s studies of Dominican art and spirituality, and Anne Winston-Allen’s history of women’s reform movements as part of a developing English-language canon that will help to shape our understanding of Dominican women’s spirituality for decades to come.

EMMA aux « Lundis de l’histoire » de Jacques Le Goff

image lundis de l'histoirePiroska Nagy et moi serons aux « Lundis de l’histoire » de Jacques Le Goff, sur France Culture, le 1er février à 15h00 pour y présenter Le Sujet des émotions au Moyen Âge (Beauchesne, 2009). L’émission pourra ensuite être podcastée ou écoutée en streaming sur le site de France Culture (rubrique « archives » de l’émission).

Débat sur les émotions médiévales à écouter sur Radio Spirale


Le 25 novembre dernier, la librairie Olivieri à Montréal a organisé une causerie-débat à l’occasion de la parution du livre Le Sujet des émotions au Moyen Âge (Beauchesne, 2009). Le débat était animé par le sociologue Jean Pichette (UQAM) en présence de Piroska Nagy. Pour écouter l’émission mise en ligne sur Radio Spirale : cliquer ici.

A signaler, dans le même cadre des causeries de la librairie Olivieri, une émission consacrée aux passions qui s’est déroulée le 16 novembre et que l’on peut aussi écouter en ligne sur le site de Radio Spirale.

Un capitalisme émotionnel est-il possible ?

La crise financière a remis sur le devant de la scène l’une des bêtes noires des économistes : l’émotion, traditionnellement annonciatrice de perturbation de la « loi des marchés » et ferment d’irrationalité dans un monde où le risque est mis en équations.

Depuis plusieurs années, la « neuroéconomie », comme son nom l’indique branche des neurosciences, traque, non plus sous la lentille du microscope mais au travers de l’imagerie du cerveau, les motivations émotionnelles des décisions financières.

Il y a quelques jours, Constance Le Bihan pour Mediapart a interrogé le neurophysiologiste Alain Berthoz pour qui, justement, l’un des enjeux de cette neuroscience de l’émotion est de « refonder une nouvelle théorie complète du comportement économique », un projet que le professeur au collège de France conçoit en convergence avec les sciences humaines.

A lire: « Alain Berthoz dissèque les cerveaux pour percer l’irrationalité de la finance » (interview par Constance Le Bihan, Mediapart, 19 avril 2009)

L’Amour des autres. Care, compassion et humanitarisme. Revue du MAUSS semestrielle n° 32, (Paris 2008).

Pour la table des matières du numéro de la revue en ligne:  cliquer ici

The indefatigable group of academics, who since 1981 formed MAUSS (Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste dans les Sciences Sociales), are a splendid example of how engaged scholarship can be cutting edge, informed and infinitely fruitful at the same time. With their journal (Revue du MAUSS) and website full of articles and multi-media material they have shaped the French academic landscape. Unfortunately, their vibrant brand of scholarship has seldom broken the linguistic barrier to be used outside the francophone world. The basic principle that unites those active under this platform is the critique of utilitarianism that is “d’une manière de voir les affaires humaines sous le seul angle de l’intérêt individuel calculé” (see the article of S. Dzimira here). It is obvious, that MAUSS alludes to Marcel Mauss and his celebrated Essai sur le don written in 1923-24. In it he showed that gifts were only seemingly given voluntarily. In fact, they were to a large degree obligatory and as such part of a complex system spanning all aspects of social life. On the basis of empirical examples from a wide range of societies, Mauss described the obligations attached to gift-giving: the obligation to give gifts (by giving, one shows oneself as generous, and thus as deserving of respect), the obligation to receive them (by receiving the gift, one shows respect to the giver), and the obligation to return the gift (thus demonstrating that one’s honour is – at least – equivalent to that of the original giver). « Donner c’est manifester sa supériorité, être plus, plus haut magister ; accepter sans rendre ou sans rendre plus, c’est se subordonner, devenir client et serviteur, devenir petit » – that is how Mauss himself puts it (M. Mauss, Sociologie et anthropologie, Paris 1950, 269-270). Each gift is part of a system of reciprocity in which the honour of giver and recipient are engaged.

The latest issue of the journal is devoted to the “Love of others” and the concept of care. The following review will be limited to topics and ideas that I found profitable as a social historian of the Byzantine period working on charity and remembrance, poverty and wealth – thus, I will not discuss articles that deal with contemporary issues, although I can only urge everyone to read them, if not as a professional academic at least as an informed contemporary citizen eager to understand the complex world around us.

In the Presentation (5-32) Alain Caille and Philippe Chanial give an overview of the volume, which includes both texts originally written for it and older texts (at times translated or excerpted) that supplement the discussion at hand. “L’homme est-il un animal sympathique ?” is perhaps the central question behind the debates – and if love can and does indeed extend to others, does it include those who are not ones’s own, “ceux qui n’ont rien, qui sont pitoyables, voire méchants, qui ne rendront rien ou seulement de la haine”? Sympathy (in its literal sense: to be affected by like feelings), compassion, enthusiasm, care – these are some of the key concepts that form the background to the texts assembled here.

The ensemble of these texts (and of the MAUSS texts in general) suggests a juggernaut of good will and of everything we would like to believe is good in humans. I was reminded of the wonderful prose and vision of Lewis Hyde in The Gift: How the creative spirit transforms the world (first ed. 1979, now reprinted in London 2006) with his juxtaposition of the gift, fecundity, blossoming and plenty (and the exploration of the idea that exploitation creates want). This is particularly true of the text by Jean-Marie Guyau (L’amour de l’humanité comme irreligion de l’avenir, 35-40, originally published in 1886). “Les actions exclusivement égoïstes sont des fruits pourrissants sur l’arbre” (p. 39), he says, which don’t feed anybody besides the worms. I am unsure on how this idea could be used by medieval historians (although I would very much like to make use of it). As with the original work of Mauss that has sparked these debates it is difficult not to slip into models that would fit more to literary criticism than to historical enquiry. Mauss’ work was in many ways a response to his own political, economic and social reality, in the same way that MAUSS urges us to rethink our own. But while Mauss delineated this system of reciprocity, he did not seem to question the social stratification it constructed and enforced. He writes that « il faut revenir à des mœurs de “dépense noble” », pour « que les riches reviennent ― librement mais aussi forcement ― à se considérer comme des sortes de trésoriers  de leurs concitoyens ». (Mauss: 262). This is viewed by some modern scholars as “an arcadianism in service of a utopianism”, as a system celebrating a “paternalistic and arcadian vision of aristocratic extravagance and paternalistic generosity” (S. C. Shershow, ‘Of Sinking: Marxism and the General Economy’, Critical Inquiry 27, 2001: 474; 481). How is this different to the current notions of “Philanthrocapitalism” or the “Creative Capitalism” of Bill Gates (see now the critical overview by M. Edwards, Philanthrocapitalism: after the goldrush) as well as the article by J. T. Godbout, Bill Clinton et le don, in this volume, pp. 237-245)? Answers are, naturally, difficult and complex, and possibly contradictory for each of us – but the least I can do is to signal caution.

The idea of the free gift is a recurring theme in this volume. It is discussed at length in an excerpt from a book by Alvin W. Gouldner, a pioneering sociologist of the 1960s and 1970s with an extensive reformist agenda (Pourquoi donner quelque chose contre rien?, pp. 47-68). The text is part of a discussion on reciprocity in sociological theory (see his ‘The Norm of Reciprocity: A Preliminary Statement’, American Sociological Revue 25 [1960] 161-78) and apart from offering interesting insights on the notion of reciprocity and problems associated with it, has little to offer for the exploration of medieval social realities. Gouldner is right to delineate the limits of reciprocity (when it involves giving to those who cannot reciprocate, as children, the elderly or the handicapped) and contrasts this concept to beneficence, which largely covers the category of giving something for nothing (as altruism, charity or hospitality). When it comes to Christian practices of beneficence (and, subsequently to medieval notions of charity), however, the author misses the point, in my mind. He claims that the Church authorized the laity to abstain from beneficence and embrace “la morale bien moins exigeante de la réciprocité” (p. 60). Furthermore, he goes on to suggest that those receiving beneficence from the elites had nothing to reciprocate (p. 61). But this is far from the truth: the needy recipients of charity offered (at least in theory) their ideal mediation in reciprocity for beneficence. The prayers of “the least of the brethren” were highly desirable in the quest for salvation, not to speak of the prestige and potential for power and office conferred by clients to their patrons.
Other contributions in this volume tackle the subject from an anthropological (G. Pommier) or theological (A. Nygren) point of view, or choose to draw boundaries by defining adjacent concepts such as compassion (P. Audi), or care (A. Le Goff, J. C. Tronto). These are highly interesting texts, destined to contribute to current debates, providing food for thought of the highest order. In my understanding of the problem of “the love for others”, however, there is an important blind spot. The debate on the personal aspect of charity, compassion, beneficence and reciprocity suggests that those in need of help and support should expect this from individuals, whether at horizontal or vertical level. We are all, indeed, compelled to display such emotions towards them and realize them through our actions. The concept of care, as discussed in this volume, or the support given to NGOs or through telethons to victims, say of the Tsunami in Asia, earthquakes in Turkey or the flood in New Orleans are a clear testament of this. The point, however, is that despite its nobility such a concept is tainted for it seems to me to liberate the state from such commitments. Would it not be preferable to try and bring about a real change in how resources are shared at the level of states, rather than rely on the kindness of strangers (in many instances, no strangers at all in fact, when publicity and the right photo op are part of giving)? If we depended on the support of others would we not prefer to receive it from an anonymous, impersonal state agency rather than from the hands of generous individual to whom we would then be bound in gratitude, as Mauss has clearly shown? I would like to finish by citing the prophetic words of A. Tchekhov, written in a letter dated to 1890: “In my opinion it is harmful to place important things in the hands of philanthropy, which in Russia is marked by a chance character. Nor should important matters depend on leftovers, which are never there. I would prefer that the government treasury take care of it.”

Dionysios Stathakopoulos / King’s College London