3rd Area

LEM-CERCOR - 3rd AreaSociability and cultural practices in the religious world


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Sociabilités et pratiques culturelles dans le monde religieux

Supervisor: Philippe CASTAGNETTI

The history of congregations and religious orders can only be fully comprehended for the historian if the communities are studied through their relation to the societies they appear, develop, weaken and die in. To do this, we must focus on shared analyses on institutional history, social history and history of representations, so as to identify the places (tangible and symbolic), where the more or less specific culture of the diverse religious families and the places of confrontation (inside and outside the ecclesial institution, where the identity of the regulars is often a debate) hatch.

This research area has three research programs:

The historicity systems in a regular environment

Supervisors: Philippe CASTAGNETTI (Philippe.Castagnetti @ univ-st-etienne.fr), Sébastien FRAY

  • Historicity systems and text production in a Benedictine environment (9th-12th centuries)

    To study the text production of Benedictine communities is one of the approaches allowing us to understand the way they became institutionalized and interacted with society. A specific focus must be granted to the historicity system developed by the monks. The exploitation of the relation a monastic community had with the past can follow several paths: examining the ways they used their own history is one, but we must also consider the way a community can preserve the memory of third parties, such as the one belonging to aristocratic lineage linked to the monastery.

    It would be at the research’s advantage to focus on the local files allowing the sharing of texts of varied types and to contextualize them: gesta abbatum, hagiographical accounts, cartularies, charters, falsified charters. In each case, a special attention must be granted to the writing processes, to the intertextual borrowings, to how the receivers were taken into account and to the effective reception of the texts.
  • Liturgical and historical productions in congregations (17th-18th centuries)

    To define and analyze the corpus on normative, non-judiciary and mostly liturgical sources, produced by an increasing number of orders and congregations during the early modern period, enlighten the conditions for the diverse religious families to build up a perfect remembrance. The new structure between scientific scholarship and piety during the post-Tridentine era leads to a reinterpretation of the past that shed new light on the old idea of reform and allows the evolution of the religious habitus.

    With this in mind, the intertextualities, understood better thanks to the comparison between the chronicler or historian’s language and the hagiographical accounts found in liturgical books, are specifically highlighted, especially in own diocesans and own congregants, whose theological and pastoral ambitions are only partly consistent.

Developing holiness: sources and stakes

Supervisors: Philippe CASTAGNETTI (Philippe.Castagnetti @ univ-st-etienne.fr), Sébastien FRAY (sebastien.fray @ univ-st-etienne.fr)

  • Hagiographical accounts and society during the medieval era

    This research theme revolves around three complementary questions:

    1°) one on the communicability of the hagiographical language and its narrative contends. The will expressed by some hagiographers to modify the behavior of their contemporary peers through their accounts has in all likelihood to be taken seriously. However this calls for an interrogation of the ways used to diffuse such injunctions: access to the text itself, to its translations, word of mouth, illustrations…;

    2°) the link between the society from which the account came from and the text itself. If many works (especially collections of miracle literature) are fixed in the society of their times, they are so through the hagiographer, who enhances the narration thanks to their shrewd culture, their ideological agenda and their ecclesiological horizon;

    3°) the value of the hagiographical account as a source of economic and social history. To count on the hagiographical language, which speaks of very varied social categories, is all the more logical for the historian now that we know that, far from granting an immediate access to social realities, the charters are also based on a discursive construction. However, the hagiographical language also follows conformist logic and has prisms (ecclesiological, ideological, rhetorical, literal) that must be taken into consideration during the study of economic and social data that the accounts can contain.
  • Religious world and canonization procedures during the early modern period

    Among the people who, following the creation of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1588, provoked the opening of canonization procedures, the clergymen and women hold the majority by far – whether the procedures succeeded or not. These procedures, far from being mere debates on how to decide whether a life was holy or not, appear, beyond their formatted aspect, as a permanent tension between the prescriptive will of ecclesiastic authorities, that is pursing well-defined pastoral objectives, and diverse levels of people, outside or from the clergy, heard or not heard as witnesses, who are more or less interested by the official acknowledgment of a new saint.

    Privileging the social and cultural stakes revealed by how the procedures go, the research is here based, among other things, on the organization of study days about the following subjects:
    - The post-medieval canonization procedures as a source for social and cultural history: an essay on methodology.
    - The use of social and religious networks in preparation for the progress of a cause.
    - The role played by beatifications and canonizations in the development of the spiritual identity of congregations.

Monasticism, society, modernity

Supervisor: Jean-François BRUN

The illustration of connections between clergymen and freemasonry starting from the end of the 18th century.

The study of a monastic group of freemasons, Le Monastier in Haute-Loire, is the starting point of an analysis on the connections between secularization, spiritualities and secularism during the end of the early modern period and the beginning of the late modern period (from 1789-1792 to today). This project comprises an important editorial section: the edition of the epistolary exchanges between Benedictines and freemasons, and the edition of a freemason ritual.