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Discourses of meditation and self-reflection in art and literature, 1300-1600

Year Group 2008/09

This theme group's aim was to investigate and discuss on an interdisciplinary level new ideas regarding early modern discourses of meditation and self-reflection.

About the topic

The particular purpose of bringing together this theme group was to critically investigate and discuss on an interdisciplinary level new ideas regarding early modern discourses of meditation and self-reflection. For this purpose we brought together a group of internationally distinguished scholars working on late medieval art and literature, and specialised in a number of different disciplines, art history, the History of Religion, Neo-Latin literature, German literature, and Dutch literature. The group consisted of: Reindert Falkenburg (Art History, NL), Karl  Enenkel (Neo-Latin, NL), Walter Melion (Art History, USA),  Michel Weemans (Art History, France), Jan Papy (Neo-Latin, Belgium), Wolfgang Neuber (German Literature, D), Thomas Lentes (History, D), Jan de Jong (Art History, NL), Geert Warnar (Durch literature, NL) and Anita Traninger (Literature, Theory of Literature, D).
The interdisciplinary collaboration of the theme group turned out to be extremely fruitful and productive. Due to the group work, all group members were able to shape their research in a more efficient way than they would have been able as single researchers. All group members got new insights in their topic and were encouraged to formulate their new findings on a broader, more stable and more convincing theoretical level. The work as a group also stimulated new research projects from which the group members will profit in the next years. A number of these ideas have already got a clear shape as future thematic Intersections volumes, of which Calls for Papers were issued during the NIAS-period (for details cf. individual progress report of Karl Enenkel). The group members have made very good progress with respect to their individual research enterprises and largely reached the goals they had in mind, or even surpassed them. The group as a whole is extremely grateful to the NIAS for the unique opportunity to work together for a whole year. Without this opportunity a considerable part of the research done during this year could not have been carried out.
The group held three sets of regular group meetings, dedicated (1) to fundamental discussions concerning the definition of the main topics of the theme group (self-reflection and meditation), (2) the individual research enterprises proposed by the group members, and (3) the final results of the individual projects and the preparation of a follow-up conference which will take place in Atlanta, in October 2009, on the pictorial aspects of meditation and self-reflection. During the NIAS-stay, the group prepared an international and interdisciplinary conference on the core topic of the theme group, Discourses of Meditation in Art and Literature, 1300-1600, which was organised by Walter Melion and Karl Enenkel. Its aim was to merge the research of the team members with international specialists on the topic of meditation. On the conference which took place in april 2009, papers were held by the best specialist on central topics, such as W. de Boer (Ohio), L. Palmer Wandel (Wisconsin), U. Pfisterer (Munich), N. Staubach (Münster), and G. Careri (Paris). The reworked lectures will be published as a separate volume in the Intersection series. From the inspiring discussion at the conference it appeared that the new findings made by the contributors had much greater impact than originally envisaged: they lead to new definitions of central features of intellectual life (1300-1600), such as the strategies of reading and processing of information. The Acta of the Conference will be edited by Karl Enenkel and Walter Melion.