Colloque – Horizontal Learning within High Medieval Religious Communities

September 1st and 2nd, 2016
Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Brussels

This conference will center on the medieval practices of learning within a community, understood as a body of people who practice communal living and share an understanding of what binds them together, even though this understanding is constantly being renegotiated. Our aim is to focus on the ways in which co-habiting peers learned from one another. This “horizontal learning” has received much less attention than the vertical master/student approach, and yet it emerges as an important part of the learning experience, especially as we are interested in “learning” in a broad sense: not only acquiring factual knowledge or skills, but also developing ideas and beliefs and adapting to behavioral patterns. In short, everything that could make a monk a better and more efficient member of the community.

Whereas other projects thematize the institutional history of learning, the transmission of propositional knowledge in formalized educational contexts, or the importance of networks of learning, this project distinguishes itself through its focus on day-to-day interactions by community members.

Our starting point is the investigation of communal learning in the practices of high medieval religious communities. Progressing beyond the old view that they were closed, homogeneous, and fairly stable social groups, we intend to approach these communities as the product of a continuous process of education and integration of new members. Contributions will investigate the way in which inter-personal exchanges of knowledge between peers concretely functioned, and what this teaches us about medieval learning within the context of a community.

Horizontal Learning

Programme :

September 1st 2016

10.30 Introduction – Steven Vanderputten (UGent, BE)

10.45 Theme 1: Theoretical frameworks
Chair: Veerle Fraeters (Universiteit Antwerpen, BE)

Tjamke Snijders (UGent, BE) – Definitions of ‘community’ and their implications for a theory of communal learning
Micol Long (UGent, BE) – “Condiscipuli sumus”: the roots of horizontal learning in monastic culture
12.10 lunch break

14.00 Theme 2: Learning through oral exchanges
Chair: Patricia Stoop (Universiteit Antwerpen, BE)

Mia Munster-Swendsen (Roskilde Universitet, DK) – Benedictine Conversations: Teaching and Learning through Dialogue in Eleventh-and Twelfth-Century Monasteries.
Jay Diehl (Long Island University, USA) – Truth as Teaching: Lies, Deceit and the Ethics of Learning in Twelfth- Century Monastic Culture
Babette Hellemans (University of Groningen, NL) – Heloise’s Echo: Vocality in the Letter Correspondence with Abelard, Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter the Venerable
16.00 coffee break

16.30 Theme 3: Learning through the physical environment
Chair: Brigitte Meijns (KU Leuven, BE)

Marc Saurette (Carleton University, CA) – ‘Spaces of Learning’ at Cluny under the Abbacy of Peter the Venerable
Karl Patrick Kinsella (University of Oxford, UK) – Teaching through Architecture: Honorius Augustodunensis and the Medieval Church

Friday September 2nd 2016

9.00 Theme 4: The dynamics of learning between equality and hierarchy
Chair: Steven Vanderputten (UGent)

Nicolangelo D’Acunto (Università cattolica del Sacro Cuore, IT) – Forms of Transmission of Knowledge at Saint Gall (IX-XI century)
Cédric Giraud (Université de Lorraine, FR) – « Ut fiat aequalitas ». Spiritual Pedagogy and Education of the Inner-Men in XII Century Cloisters
10.20 coffee break

10.40 Theme 5: Comparatives perspectives
Chair: Micol Long (UGent)

Neslihan Senoçak (Columbia University, USA) – Training of Canons in the Collegiate Churches as an Example of Horizontal Learning
Keynote – Stephen Jaeger (University of Illinois, USA) – Men and Women in the Life of the Schools, 10th to 12th Century

11.50 Conclusion and final discussion – Micol Long and Tjamke Snijders (UGent, BE)

Informations pratiques :

September 1st and 2nd, 2016
Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Brussels

Please register at by August 15th, 2016

Organizing committee :
Veerle Fraeters (Universiteit Antwerpen, BE)
Micol Long (UGent, BE)
Brigitte Meijns (KU Leuven, BE)
Mia Münster-Swendsen (Roskilde Universitet, DK)
Tjamke Snijders (UGent, BE)
Steven Vanderputten (UGent, BE)

Scientific committee :
John van Engen (University of Notre Dame, USA)
Gert Melville (Research Centre for the Comparative History of Religious Orders, Dresden, DE),
Nicole Beriou (Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, Paris, FR)
Enrico Artifoni (University of Turin, IT)
Mette Birkedal Bruun (University of Copenhagen, DK).
Elisabeth van Houts (Emmanuel College, Cambridge, UK)
Mary Garrison (University of York, UK)
Elisabeth Tyler (University of York, UK)
Steven Vanderputten (UGent, BE)

FWO Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO)
The Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies
Ghent University (UGent), Department of History
Ghent University (UGent), Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Research Unit ‘Religion and Society in the Early and Central Middle Ages’ (UGent)
Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts
Lectio. Leuven Centre for the Study of the Transmission of Texts and Ideas in Antiquity, the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Source : UGent

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