Category Archives: Medieval letter writing

Reposted: Workshop ‘On Letters’, 12-14 April 2018, Hamburg (free of charge)

Date: 12–14 April 2018
Venue:  Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Warburgstraße 26, Hamburg, Germany

Description:
Besides administrative documents, letters are among the earliest examples of writing in the history of mankind. At the same time this genre was—and still is—of special persistence within almost all manuscript cultures up to the present day. Belonging primarily to the realm of pragmatic handwriting, letters have become a part of what we nowadays define as literature, and, as objects of religious or aesthetic veneration, of art, too. Under the heading of “Epistolography” letters have been studied as a subfield of History and Literature for a long time. This conference, however, will focus on the material side and its accompanying practices, rather than on content.

To cover relevant phenomena from different cultures and periods the workshop will deal with handwritten documents that are meant for more or less immediate communication. Their formal qualities as a whole strive for accessibility and practicability—even in the case of secret letters—, characterised by the tendency to portability and to limited length. A letter in the narrow sense is, with a very few exceptions, per definitionem unique; even if the manuscript is copied, e.g. as a later reference, its original purpose remains to be bound to the single, unique object spanning the distance of senders and addressees.

The production and use of letters—or other comparable documents meant for communication—is dominated by a loose set of polarities, each set providing a continuum by which a given artefact can be defined: open or closed (secret); private or public; written by one’s own hand (“authentic”) or by a second person; for immediate use (expecting direct response) or mainly for documentary purpose; formal or informal, and others.

The workshop will approach the subject from at least three perspectives:

  1. We will consider circumstances of production, including choices of materials, writing styles, and matters of different formats that are all related to the various forms and levels of sender and addressee and their relation, be they areal individual, institutions or imagined or transcendent counterparts. For this part letters are also typically strongly marked by authoriality, both on the material and the textual level.
  2. We will consider circumstances of use, including the relation of transmission and materiality, especially means of protection and the integrity of devices of authentication (envelopes, seals and the like). Besides activities that involve reading (aloud or silent) the most interesting point concerns strategies of safekeeping and archiving. The personal and fragile character of these physical objects has led at an early stage to a compilation of letters as parts of multiple-text manuscripts (MTM), worth a more detailed investigation.
  3. As a third perspective we would like to discuss phenomena on a more general level, e.g. the role of transmission and adoption of techniques of letter writing between different manuscript cultures, and the development and use of anthologies of formulae, letter writing guides etc., both as material objects by themselves and as instruction guides containing information on material aspects.

Focusing on the relation between material aspects and social practices involving letters the workshop intends to deepen our understanding of the interaction of pragmatic and literate manuscripts from a comparative perspective.

To download the programme and abstracts, to register, and for further information, click here.

URL of original post: https://www.manuscript-cultures.uni-hamburg.de/register_letters2018.html

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Conference: Der Mittelalterliche Brief zwischen Norm und Praxis – Aachen (11/17)

Organisation: Prof. Dr. Florian Hartmann, RWTH Aachen University

Dates and venue: 30.11.2017-02.12.2017, Aachen, Historisches Institut, Leonardo-Raum, RWTH Aachen University, Theaterplatz 14, D-52056 Aachen

Description:
Im Jahr 2013 nahm das DFG-Netzwerk zur mittelalterlichen ars dictaminis seine Arbeit auf, um das erste Handbuch der mittelalterlichen Briefstillehre überhaupt zu verfassen. Mit diesem Werk wird erstmals ein umfassender Überblick über die bis heute in Tausenden von Handschriften überlieferten, in der mittelalterlichen Praxis also enorm geschätzten, in der Forschung aber meist ignorierten Prosalehren geboten, welche die theoretische Grundlage fast der gesamten Textproduktion des späteren Mittelalters waren. Parallel zur derzeitigen Schlussredaktion dieses Handbuches soll auf der internationalen Konferenz anhand ganz unterschiedlicher Beiträge die Vielfalt mittelalterlicher Briefkultur demonstriert werden. Ein wesentliches Ziel besteht darin,laufende Forschungsprojekte zu vernetzen und exemplarisch den Blick für das Potential und den Reichtum zu schärfen, den die wissenschaftliche Beschäftigung mit dem reichen Bestand mittelalterlicher Brieftheorie und Briefpraxis bereithält.

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Programme
Do, 30.11.2017

15:00
Einführung:
Florian Hartmann (Aachen): Projektvorstellung und Zielsetzung des
Kongresses

15:30
Benoît Grévin (Paris): Potential und Desiderata der Forschungen zur
mittelalterlichen Briefstillehre: die Briefsammlungen

16:15 Pause

Sektion I (Matthias Thumser, Berlin)
Briefe, Briefsammlungen und ihre Überlieferung im späten Mittelalter

16:30
Micol Long (Ghent): Letters in context: Learning through letters in the
late Middle Ages

17:15
Sara Bischetti (Venedig): Tradizione e circolazione manoscritta delle
opere dettatorie di Guido Faba

18:00
Lena Vosding (Düsseldorf): Monastische Briefsammlungen des späten
Mittelalters

Fr, 1.12.2017

Sektion II (Fabio della Schiava, Löwen)
Von der ars dictaminis zum Humanismus

9:00
Harald Müller (Aachen): Der Humanistenbrief und sein Publikum

9:45
Marco Petoletti (Mailand): Raccolte di lettere del Trecento

10:30 Pause

11:00
Clémence Revest (Paris): La diplomatica pontificia tra ars dictaminis e
umanesimo : metodi di ricerca e piste interpretative

11 :45
Thomas Wölki (Berlin): “Gnediger herr, lasst mich nit auf die
fleischpank geben!” Der Einsatz von Briefen in der politischen Kultur:
Unbekannte Briefe zur Gradner-Fehde 1455/1456

12: 30 Mittagspause

Sektion III (Benoît Grévin, Paris)
Forschungsperspektive 1: Ars dictaminis und Notariat

14:00 Matthieu Allingri (Aix-en-Provence): Culture notariale et Ars
dictaminis en Toscane et en Catalogne: une comparaison

14:45: Magdalena Weileder (München): Zur Benutzung von Formulae in der
Praxis in der Kirchenprovinz Salzburg

16:00: Führung durch den Aachener Dom für Referentinnen, Referenten und
Sektionsleiter

Sektion IV (Antonio Montefusco, Venedig)
Forschungsperspektive 2: Von der ars dictaminis zur Literatur

17:30 Nicolas Michel (Namur): La place du Morale Somnium Pharaonis dans
le réseau des collections de dictamina, un cas atypique d’hybridation
textuelle

18:15 Gaia Tomazzoli (Venedig): Dall’ars dictaminis al linguaggio
figurato dantesco: il caso delle metafore politiche

Sa 2.12.2017

Sektion V (Fulvio Delle Donne, Potenza)
Forschungsperspektive 3: Ars dictaminis als Zugang zu Wissen und
Gesellschaft

9:00 Francesca Battista (Wien): Women’s Voices in Medieval Letter
Collections and Artes dictandi

9:45 Francesca Tarquinio (Florenz): Storia e geografia nel
“Boncompagnus”

10:30 Pause

11:00 Martina Pavoni (Florenz): Il mondo nuovo nelle espistole. L’amore
nei “Carmina Ratisponensia”

11:45 Luca Core (Padua): La “revolutio” della “Rota Veneris”

12:30 Abschlussdiskussion: Ergebnisse und Forschungsperspektiven

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Contact:
Prof. Dr. Florian Hartmann
Historisches Institut
Wissensdiskurse des Mittelalters
RWTH Aachen University
Theaterplatz 14
52056 Aachen

hartmann@histinst.rwth-aachen.de

Source URL: <http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/termine/id=35703&gt;

CFP: International conference: ‘Briefe und Konflikte des Okzidents in der Spätantike und im Mittelalter’ (10/15)

Title of conference: ‘Briefe und Konflikte des Okzidents in der Spätantike und im Mittelalter’
Dates, place: 15.10.2015 – 17.10.2015, Granada
Organizers: ANR-DFG-Projekt Epistola (Thomas Deswarte, Angers; Klaus Herbers, Erlangen); Arbeitsgruppe: Épistolaire politique (Bruno Dumézil, Paris)
Contact: Bruno Dumézil 
Deadline for submitting abstracts: 31.01.2015
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish

War der Brief in der Spätantike und während des Mittelalters eine Waffe?
Seit mehreren Jahren erforschen verschiedene europäische
Forschungsprogramme das Erbe und die Möglichkeiten der antiken
Briefkunst, die sowohl dazu diente die Bindung zwischen entfernten
Freunden aufrecht zu erhalten als auch Hass oder Streit zwischen
Protagonisten, die sich nicht treffen konnten oder wollten.

Die Frage nach Konflikten bringt es mit sich, über die Funktion von
Korrespondenzen im Zuge kriegerischer Handlungen nachzudenken. Häufig
geschah es, dass ein Fürst den Kampf über Schreiben führte und die
Bewegungen seiner Truppen, die in der Ferne kämpften, beobachtete. Diese
Briefe – soweit sie überliefert sind – geben uns unmittelbar Einblick in
die Feldzüge, die die Chronisten später zusammenfassten. Auch das
diplomatische Spiel zu Kriegszeiten wurde in Form von Briefen
ausgetragen, wovon beispielsweise Cassiodors Interesse für das
Verfassen, schriftliche Festhalten und die Übermittlung in seinen Variae
zeugt. Selbstverständlich konnte sich jedes Sendschreiben als
heimtückisch, doppeldeutig oder trügerisch erweisen, zumindest wenn es
umgeschrieben wurde, um Ereignisse im Nachhinein zu rechtfertigen.
Schließlich konnte der Brief der Ort sein, wo vergangene oder aktuelle
Konflikte festgehalten wurden, um sicherzustellen, dass die Geschehnisse
im eignen Sinne verbreitet wurden. Selbst an der ‘Heimatfront’ diente
die Stimme des Briefes gleichermaßen zur Information und
Desinformation. ….

Continue reading the CFP on H/Soz/Kult.

‘Gifts from the abbey’ – A presentation by Lena Vosding

letter-book-outside50Prozent

Foto: Lüneburger Klosterarchive, © Kloster Lüne

At the symposium ‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’ (2–4 July 2014, Oxford), Lena Vosding M.A. (Düsseldorf, Germany) gave a paper entitled ‘Gifts from the abbey: the letters of the Benedictine nuns in Lüne (1460 – 1550)’. Below is a summary of the paper which Ms Vosding has kindly provided.

If your research is also concerned with medieval letter books similar to the one presented here, Ms Vosding would love to hear from you; her contact details can be found at end of this post.


Gifts from the abbey: the letters of the Benedictine nuns in Lüne (1460 – 1550)
[summary by L. Vosding]

In my paper I presented the hitherto unedited and little known letterbook of the Benedictine convent in Lüne (near Lüneburg, Germany) into which the medieval nuns copied a significant amount of their written communication in the period between approximately 1460 and 1550 (Lüne convent archive, MS 15, MS 30 and MS 31). In three volumes there are about 1.800 copies of letters or letter fragments, some written in Latin, some in Low German. They cover a broad range of topics and addressees: there are letters to and from other convents, to and from the provost, the Lüne town council, the bishop, the duke, or families and relatives of the nuns. The letters deal with economic or legal matters, donations, liturgical practice, conflicts, friendship, spiritual edification, and theological interpretation of key social events such as childbirth, death, marriage, or investiture. There seems to be a connection between the chosen language and the respective addressees: correspondence with the Duke, the town-council or other laymen is written in the vernacular, while correspondence with the provost, the bishop, other clerics and the neighbouring monasteries is held in Latin. The communication with other convents is predominantly written in a mixture of Latin and the vernacular.

By examining two selected letters I tried to provide an insight into the characteristics and significance of this extensive collection. The first is typical of many letters which concern the community’s economic and judicial interests: on 15th September 1525, Sister Gertrud Brome urged her lay relative to cease his attempts to prevent their confessor from receiving a fief granted by a sister or resident of the convent (see an image of the manuscript (© Kloster Lüne); transcription/translations). The second, longer letter, which congratulates the daughter of one of the convent’s benefactors (and possibly one of the nun’s relatives) upon her wedding, is a typical model letter: there are no dates or names given and it seems to be compiled from at least three different sources (see an image of the manuscript (© Kloster Lüne); transcription/translations).

A close reading of both texts suggests the meaning which the letters had for the nuns: on the one hand, for them, their letters were a medium that enabled them to be present in places they could not personally reach due to their strict enclosure. It kept the essential networks – whether they be theological, social, or judicial – of their convent alive. On the other hand, they understood their letters as the materialization of what their particular task was as late medieval nuns: the spiritual care, the intercession for clerics and laymen. For the nuns these texts served, finally, as proof of their adherence to the official rules for the convent’s communication with the outside world which were laid down by the bishop in 1462 (Doc. no. 578, in: Brosius, Dieter (ed.): Urkundenbuch des Klosters Lüne, Hannover 2011, pp. 499–500).

letter-book-2klein

Foto: Lüneburger Klosterarchive, © Kloster Lüne

All these aspects might have been reasons for the nuns to collect letters they had sent and received from the 1460s onward. Furthermore the copies in the letterbook probably had an additional function: It seems quite plausible that the letterbook was created in response to an external threat: it was evidently composed over a single period of time – not until the 1530s -, and this was when the convent was being confronted by the Reformation. As a collection, bound as a book, the letters therefore served to support the nuns’ self-reflection, their sense of purpose in the world and – as model for future communication – their composure and self-control at a time when the existence of their convent was called into question.

But these ideas only address one aspect of the letterbook’s function. It became obvious in the course of the discussion following my paper that there are still many more aspects to be investigated: for instance the collection also contains peculiar texts such as a short letter about a wild sow in a nun’s cell (see an image of the manuscript and a transcription/translation, © Kloster Lüne). This comprehensive analytical task will form the subject of my doctoral thesis, which will deliver the first analysis of the manuscript so that we can hopefully soon better understand the nuns of Lüne and their letterbook.

An edition of the Lüne Letters is planned by Prof. Dr. Eva Schlotheuber (Düsseldorf).

Contact details:
Lena Vosding M.A.
Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften I
Gebäude 23.31, Ebene 06, Raum 80
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Universitätsstr. 1
40225 Düsseldorf
Germany/Deutschland
0049 (0) 211–81–12931
lena.vosding@uni-duesselorf.de