Medieval Visions of ‘the Social’

Mendicant Discourses and Transfer of Knowledge in Catalonia and Aragon in a European Context (XIV-early XV)

My project interrogates how knowledge of ‘the social’ shaped or aimed to shape ‘reality’ and how knowledge was in turn shaped during the complex process of production and transfer of knowledge in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual region of medieval Europe – late medieval Catalonia and Aragon, with a focus on mendicant discourse. To answer that, I (1) employ ‘the social’ (a much-debated concept in Social History and Theory) as a more inclusive epistemic category and analytical tool instead of the more circumscribed, more traditional units ‘society’ and ‘religion’. I (2) research a range of primary sources, most of them unedited and/or understudied: sermons, which are at the core of my investigation, theological works (‘academic’ or ‘pastoral’), other ‘religious’ works destined for wider audiences or those stemming from non-scholastic/non-religious milieus. I apply readings from a variety of fields within medieval studies, such as sermon studies, historical semantics, cultural and social history, and I draw on and critically engage with other disciplines across the humanities and social sciences: New Cultural History, ‘Postsocial’ History and Social Theory, Intellectual History (Conceptual History included). There are two main objectives:

  1. to critically and systematically examine late medieval visions of the ‘social’ in the discourses of the mendicant friars, in order to assess the complexity of the process and modes of transfer of knowledge and communication and their impact on local societies;

  2. to significantly expand the current scholarship by exploring unedited manuscript sources from the focus area and by analysing them comparatively with sources from other areas in order to place the research in a broader European framework.

FWF M 2701-G

Lise Meitner Postdoctoral Fellow