In an era of confessional conflict, the conscience was a powerful mediator between God and man, directing and judging moral actions. It not only governed the relationship between the human and the divine but also the relationship between the individual and society. The conscience emerged as a potent concept in a variety of discourses and literary genres; casuistry; advice to princes; economic treatises and political pamphlets. Casuistic advice was disseminated in oral, manuscript and printed form. No part of human experience was seen as being beyond the jurisdiction of the conscience. All moral actions raised questions of conscience and, as a moral action was frequently defined as any act of voluntary human agency, the range and number of possible cases of conscience were almost limitless.
Casuistry, the branch of moral theology devoted to the resolution of difficult cases, has already attracted much scholarly attention. Casuists were called upon to resolve queries of conscience arising in every area of private and public life. Popes, confessors, and theologians dispensed casuistic advice to princes and city magistrates on matters of state. Political authors found casuistic treatises an ideal source for resolving questions of allegiance. Pamphlet literature in political controversies frequently appeared as printed cases of conscience. Individuals torn between religious and political allegiances would quiz their consciences and use casuistic strategies to make up their minds. Whether probing their stance on questions of religious dogma and political loyalty or examining their own mind so as to recover a moral equilibrium disturbed by the state of their domestic and marital affairs, individuals wittingly or unwittingly engaged in a process of self-fashioning. Confronted with insights into the workings of the order of nature opened by new methods of scientific enquiry, scholars sought to find means and ways to link heterodox knowledge to orthodox attitudes.
Speakers to include: Robert Bireley, Bernard Capp, Fernando Cervantes, Ginevra Crosignani, Nicholas Davidson, Barbara Donagan, Michael Hunter, James F. Keenan, Thomas McCoog , Michael Questier, Isabel Rivers, Rudolf Schuessler, Johann Sommerville, John Spurr, David Turner and Alexandra Walsham.
Call for Papers
We are seeking submissions, not only from scholars working in the fields of religious history and the history of political thought, but also from historians working with interests in early modern science and medicine, moral regulation, drama and literature. The committee is particularly keen to receive proposals for papers on the following themes
Conscience and Self-Fashioning
Conscience and Conduct
Conscience and Literature
Conscience and Casuistry Outside Europe
Conscience and Casuistry: Decline or Transformation?
Conscience in Confrontation: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
The organisers do encourage advanced doctoral students to submit papers, as this conference will offer them the opportunity to meet and give papers in the presence of established scholars from Europe and the US.
The committee would especially welcome papers that adopt a comparative approach and/or cover the whole chronological span of the conference. Proposals for papers (no more than 500 words), plus a short CV, should reach the conference committee by January 30, 2002.
For papers on Britain
Dr Edward Vallance
University of Sheffield
Tel : 0114 – 2222590
fax : 0114 - 2788304
For papers on Europe and the rest of the world
Dr. Harald Braun,
Dept of History
King's College, London
Room no. 323
Tel. : 020-7848-2667
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