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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 1619: Back to the Future?: 'Renaissance' and 'Reform' as Concepts of Cultural Change between the Middle Ages and Modernity

Thursday 9 July 2015, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Historisches Institut, FernUniversität Hagen
Organiser:Uta Kleine, Historisches Institut, FernUniversität Hagen
Moderator/Chair:Anja B. Rathmann-Lutz, Departement Geschichte, Universität Basel
Paper 1619-aReformatio, Transformatio, Metamorphosis: Expressing Physical and Spiritual Change by Means of Magic, Divine Intervention, and Orthodox Behaviour from the 1st-5th Century
(Language: English)
Christian Urs Wohlthat, Historisches Institut, FernUniversität Hagen
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Pagan Religions, Religious Life
Paper 1619-bBetween Burckhardt and Charlemagne: Concepts of Reform and Renaissance in Medieval History and Modern Historiography
(Language: English)
Uta Kleine, Historisches Institut, FernUniversität Hagen
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Political Thought

'Renaissance' and 'Reform' are powerful metaphors for political and spiritual renewal frequently used in modern academic as well as in premodern Christian discourse. They convey ideas about how people perceive and structure time, about the relations between old and new, between present, past and future. According to Gerhart Ladner, 'reform', 'rebirth' and 'renewal' were key terms of early Christian and medieval thought and life. They were linked to the central idea of man's re-formation towards his original image-likeness of God. In modern discourse they are applied to periods of accelerated socio-political change, often indicating the beginning of a new historical era (the Italian Renaissance of the 14th, the Protestant Reformation of the 16th, but also the so-called Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century). But in dealing with these terms, we have to be aware of the fact that they are lacking scientific precision and that their exact meaning and their semantic relation to one another are rarely clarified. Do they refer to a change by deliberate return to models taken from the past or to a gradual and collective process of innovation directed towards the future? Do they imply a difference between secular and religious forms of transformation? Are we dealing with artificial terms or do they reflect premodern perceptions and terminology? Are the different periods of renewal related to each other by a common principle or are they heterogeneous? Does the renovation affect the whole society or is it limited to certain groups, domains or fields of discourse?

The papers of this session will investigate these questions in a series of case studies, looking in particular at modern renewal terminology in its relation to premodern usages and ideas.