V. Workshop „Apokalyptik und Prophetie im Mittelalter“
21.-23. 6. 2012, IMAFO, Wien

The Translations of John of Rupescissa’s Vade mecum in tribulatione (1356)
into Seven European Vernaculars

John of Rupescissa OFM was a highly influential late-medieval Latin author in terms of his role in Spiritual Franciscan propaganda, eschatological prophecy, and political discourse. Rupescissa’s incendiary Vade mecum in tribulatione, written in imprisonment in Avignon in 1356, was by far his most widely circulated work. As of today it is known to survive in some forty-one copies, aside from six others which have either been destroyed or are presently unlocatable. And that is only counting the Latin, for quite remarkably the work was translated into seven vernacular languages before roughly the year 1500. In alphabetical order these are, Castilian, Catalan, Czech, English, French, and German. Moreover, several of these languages were vehicles for more than one translation. For example, three independent French translations are known to exist. In some cases the vernacular versions do not encompass the entire work but are abbreviations or sets of selections: it is still too early to know the specifics. No more than two or three of the numerous texts here mentioned have been published. Accordingly, the numerous vernacular versions of the Vade mecum in tribulatione offer an extraordinarily rich data base for studying and comparing the choices and strategies, linguistic and ideological, that inhered in the translation of a Latin work, as well of course for studying comparative reception. It should be mentioned that while the data base is large, the original Latin work itself is of a manageable length—by a rough estimate it would come to about twenty octavo sized printed pages, divided into numbered units rather than extended prose. A critical edition of the Latin, obviously a prerequisite for studying the vernacular versions, will soon be completed and ready for use.
Evidently only an international consortium of linguistic experts and religious historians would be capable of doing the job of surveying the material outlined above. Thus a workshop comprised of scholars from many different countries is being scheduled for June 2012 to map out the work. The aim is a.) to take an inventory of all the transmissions, including multiple manuscripts (where the case arises) of any individual version, b.) to discuss methodical and theoretical possibilities of comparison of the transmitted versions, and c.) to probe the milieux of reception. The ultimate goal is a series of studies as well as the publication of editions of the various texts.


International Medieval Congress - Vernacularities in Post-National Perspective
11. 7. 2012, Leeds

Vernacularities in Post-National Perspective, I:
National Literatures and their Medieval Canons Reconsidered

This session deals with the problem of the scholarly narrative of the medieval origins of vernacular literatures. The aim is to discuss critically traditional approaches of European philologies and literary sciences and look for new theoretical and methodological frames in which the medieval vernacular literatures could be investigated beyond the boundaries of nationally defined historiographical and philological narratives. The papers in this session describe some problems of selected national philologies and discuss their impact on the current state of the art.

Vernacularities in Post-National Perspective, II:
Vernacular Translations, Thrills of Comparison

The session focusses on vernacular versions of the Vitas patrum, a very important collection of saints' lives which experienced broad reception in medieval Europe. Papers will demonstrate the rich history of translation of this collection in European vernaculars, compare research results in particular areas and critically discuss the potential of a comparative approach. The questions are: which research questions can a comparative method help to answer and which not? Can the comparative method be specified according to material or is it possible to develop some overarching comparative matrix? Is comparison without theory possible?

Vernacularities in Post-National Perspective, III:
The Worlds in and between Acculturation and Cultural Transfer

The session deals with the complex and flowering field of the theories of acculturation and cultural transfer. It seems that acculturation theory has gained its own dynamics, distancing itself from the evidence; theoretical models are not our tools anymore but our masters. How can we harmonise theory, methodology and material? How can we liberate the terms culture, acculturation, cultural transfer, centre, and periphery for pragmatic research; how can we 'medievalise' them?

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1st International workshop - Historiographies of Identity
19. 1O. 2012, IMAFO, Vienna

Narrating Community, Methodological Approaches

On March 1, 2011, the interdisciplinary SFB (Spezialforschungsbereich) “Visions of Community. Comparative Approaches to Ethnicity, Region and Empire in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, 400 – 1600 CE (VISCOM)” has started its first four-year funding period in Vienna. In this project, medieval historians, social anthropologists and philologists will work together in an ambitious comparative research programme on the role of universal religions in the formation of particular communities in medieval Europe and Asia. It also seeks to promote theoretical and methodological reflection of the problems connected with such an intercultural comparison. The comparative approach should focus on the central issues of the project: Universal visions of community (promoting inclusive religious or political communities or social worlds) and particular identities (ethnic, territorial, religious, civic etc.). VISCOM departs from the assumption that texts do not simply reflect social groups, but also contribute to shaping them. One of the transversal goals of the project therefore is to study the social dimension of discourse and written communication.
Consequently, studying the role of historiography in shaping and promoting certain forms of community and identity in the Middle Ages, as proposed in this joint project, is a central concern within VISCOM. This implies a number of specific research questions, for instance: Which social identities and ‘visions of community’ play a role in specific historiographic texts? Which of them are used as overarching frames of reference to structure the narrative? Which strategies of identification (legitimization, inclusion, distinction...) are employed with regard to different social groups? Does the text respond to other models of identification or frames of reference? On which traditions (holy scripture, historiographic models, myths and legends) does the text rely, how does it modify them? How is the text changed and rearranged in the course of its transmission? What does the choice of language imply, and what impact did interlingual translations and specific literacies have? Of course, these are just a few exemplary questions, and which ones are relevant also depends from the context of the single volumes and from the specific topic.