The Theme for the International Medieval Congress at Leeds 2012 (9-12 July, 2012) is 'Rules to Follow - Or Not.' In keeping with this theme, Bert Roest and I are organizing a number of sessions entitled ‘Forms of Life’, Rules and Other Normative Texts in late Medieval Female Religious Communities (1200-1500)’. We still have a number of places left, and are eager to hear from anyone who has a paper to offer. We ask anyone who is interested to send a title, brief outline, and affiliation details to either Bert Roest (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Alison More (email@example.com).
Theme: This session sheds light on the way in which 'forms of life’, religious rules, house constitutions and other normative texts (such as exemplary hagiographic dossiers) were used to shape the life of late medieval female religious communities, both those considered to be fully monastic (such as Damianite/Poor Clare and female Dominican houses) and those that had a much more indeterminate status (such as communities of beguines and ‘Franciscan’ and non-Franciscan tertiaries). Participants are asked to approach this issue from four different angles:
· Authority: Who imposes/implements the normative texts and what transformatory repercussions could this have for the female religious communities in question?
· Content: What way of life is proposed in these normative texts (fasting and enclosure regimes, liturgical demands, communal hierarchy and relationship with outside visitators and spiritual directors etc.) and what does that imply for the normative representations of female religious life in the later medieval period?
· Sitz im Leben: It is possible to find out how these normative texts functioned in individual religious houses? And to what extent were these texts able to ‘normalize’ or ‘standardize’ religious practices among a variety of religious communities?
· Diachrony: Sources suggest that many female religious houses went through several institutional phases, during which they adhered to different rules and constitutions. Did the adoption of a ‘new’ rule meant a total transformation of lifestyle, or are we sometimes dealing with an incrementive process, in which older normative traditions worked alongside of more recently imposed/adopted religious regimes? Did the rule a particular community followed have implications for its association with, or perceived membership in, a particular religious order?
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