Appel à contribution – St. Augustine’s ‘De Civitate Dei’ Political Doctrine, Textual Transmission and Early Medieval Reception

On 27-29 January 2022, the research units Literary Studies: Latin Literature and History of Church and Theology of KU Leuven will organize, in the framework of the C1-project «Magnum opus et arduum»: Towards a History of the Reception of Augustine’s «De civitate Dei», the international conference:

Saint Augustine’s De civitate Dei
Political Doctrine, Textual Transmission and Early Medieval Reception
Leuven/Brussels, 27-29 January 2022

This conference aims to bring together scholars who have recently made important contributions to the study of Augustine’s De civitate Dei and its reception from the philosophical, historical, philological and theological points of view. The following survey offers some possible topics, but does not intend to exclude alternative issues. Preference will be given, however, to source-based contributions that focus on Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

(1) Political doctrine in Augustine’s De civitate Dei and its legacy

The socio-political ideas expressed by Augustine in De civitate Dei have already been extensively researched. Nonetheless, Augustine’s theory can only be properly understood if situated within the contexts of both his œuvre and his own praxis as a bishop. The place of De civitate Dei in the development of Augustine’s thought, as well as its relationship with his activity as a local political leader, should be more closely examined. Moreover, De civitate Dei exerted a crucial influence on the development of political and moral theology from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern era and beyond, which deserves to be better explored. Examples of questions that can inspire conference papers are: how did the historical context exert an influence on the ideas expressed in De civitate Dei? How is a specific concept treated in De civitate Dei compared to his other works, and those of other Church Fathers? How has Augustine’s political doctrine as conveyed by De civitate Dei and other works been reshaped by medieval readers? How did this work inspire the behavior and actions of late antique and early medieval politicians?

(2) Late antique and early medieval transmission and reception of De civitate Dei

Though Augustine’s De civitate Dei had a massive influence on Western thinking and culture, we are currently very far from understanding the path of its transmission and dissemination in the Middle Ages, as we still rely on an almost century-old edition which takes into account a limited number of manuscripts. The impact of Augustine’s magnum opus is not only reflected in the wide reception of its content, but also in the large number of extant copies and the numerous quotations in anthologies and other works composed from Late Antiquity onwards. Speakers may propose the study of a manuscript or a group of manuscripts from the textual, paratextual and/or codicological points of view, as well as a survey and an evaluation of literal and non-literal quotations in late antique and early medieval literature (e.g. florilegia, biblical commentaries, visions of the afterlife, theological, philosophical, historical and encyclopedic works).

On 27-29 January 2022, the research units Literary Studies: Latin Literature and History of Church and Theology of KU Leuven will organize, in the framework of the C1-project «Magnum opus et arduum»: Towards a History of the Reception of Augustine’s «De civitate Dei», the international conference:

Saint Augustine’s De civitate Dei
Political Doctrine, Textual Transmission and Early Medieval Reception
Leuven/Brussels, 27-29 January 2022

This conference aims to bring together scholars who have recently made important contributions to the study of Augustine’s De civitate Dei and its reception from the philosophical, historical, philological and theological points of view. The following survey offers some possible topics, but does not intend to exclude alternative issues. Preference will be given, however, to source-based contributions that focus on Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

(1) Political doctrine in Augustine’s De civitate Dei and its legacy

The socio-political ideas expressed by Augustine in De civitate Dei have already been extensively researched. Nonetheless, Augustine’s theory can only be properly understood if situated within the contexts of both his œuvre and his own praxis as a bishop. The place of De civitate Dei in the development of Augustine’s thought, as well as its relationship with his activity as a local political leader, should be more closely examined. Moreover, De civitate Dei exerted a crucial influence on the development of political and moral theology from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern era and beyond, which deserves to be better explored. Examples of questions that can inspire conference papers are: how did the historical context exert an influence on the ideas expressed in De civitate Dei? How is a specific concept treated in De civitate Dei compared to his other works, and those of other Church Fathers? How has Augustine’s political doctrine as conveyed by De civitate Dei and other works been reshaped by medieval readers? How did this work inspire the behavior and actions of late antique and early medieval politicians?

(2) Late antique and early medieval transmission and reception of De civitate Dei

Though Augustine’s De civitate Dei had a massive influence on Western thinking and culture, we are currently very far from understanding the path of its transmission and dissemination in the Middle Ages, as we still rely on an almost century-old edition which takes into account a limited number of manuscripts. The impact of Augustine’s magnum opus is not only reflected in the wide reception of its content, but also in the large number of extant copies and the numerous quotations in anthologies and other works composed from Late Antiquity onwards. Speakers may propose the study of a manuscript or a group of manuscripts from the textual, paratextual and/or codicological points of view, as well as a survey and an evaluation of literal and non-literal quotations in late antique and early medieval literature (e.g. florilegia, biblical commentaries, visions of the afterlife, theological, philosophical, historical and encyclopedic works).

Committed speakers include: Anne-Isabelle Bouton-Touboulic (Université de Lille), Emanuela Colombi (Università degli Studi di Udine), Jérémy Delmulle (IRHT – Paris), Volker Henning Drecoll (Universität Tübingen), Jacques Elfassi (Université de Lorraine), Jesse Keskiaho (University of Helsinki), Jerôme Lagouanère (Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier), Karla Pollmann (University of Bristol).

If you would like to deliver a lecture during this conference, please send the provisional title, abstract (max. 500 words) and a concise CV (max. 500 words) to Marina Giani (marina.giani@kuleuven.be) before 31 March 2021. Young researchers and early career scholars are especially encouraged to apply.

The colloquium will take place at the University of Leuven. A guided visit will be conducted to the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels, where some of the most famous manuscripts and printed editions of Augustine’s De civitate Dei will be displayed. We are committed to host an on campus conference: nonetheless, if travelling abroad will not yet be safe by then, we are prepared to either switch online or to host a blended meeting.

Acceptance of your paper will be communicated by 30 April 2021. All participants are kindly invited to announce the definitive title of their lecture and a short abstract before 30 June 2021. Lectures should be approx. 30 minutes long, followed by a general discussion of 10 minutes. The organizing committee has the intention of publishing the conference papers as quickly as possible in the international series Augustinus. Werk und Wirkung, directed by Volker Henning Drecoll and Johannes Brachtendorf. More practical information will follow when abstracts have been accepted.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Yours sincerely,
Gert Partoens, Anthony Dupont, Marina Giani

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