The confessional division within the Church in the early modern period was accompanied by fervent activity in the field of polemical theology. This gave rise to a specific literary genre that, in spite of its abundant representation among early modern texts, has not received due attention from philologists as a distinct form of thought and expression. When reading early modern texts, one comes across references and allusions to confessional polemics again and again. Evidently, writings of religious controversy, practical rather than theoretical as to their purpose, were capable of reaching out beyond their own sphere, thus making their presence felt in society and exerting their influence on individual people’s lives.
Polemical theology developed its own system of arguments, images, biblical quotations, etc. which to a great extent became standardized through several prominent manuals of controversy (like e. g. those of Martin Becan, Francis Coster or Robert Bellarmine on the Catholic side). The patterns of polemical-theological discourse were widely known among the educated and their influences can be found in a wide spectrum of early modern literary genres, such as historiography, drama, poetry, oratory, epistolography, scientific dissertations, etc. Therefore we believe it might be beneficial to regard the system of the early modern polemical theology with its ever-recurring motifs and fixed forms of argumentation as an adequate key of interpretation with which to dicepher the ‘polemical’ codes in literary works.
The conference aims to take an interdisciplinary look at early modern texts, both Latin and vernacular, through the prism of the fundamental topics of polemical theology and/or against the background of the marks of the true Church.
Paper proposals are welcome on any aspect of research falling within the scope of the conference, in particular on:
• themes of polemical theology in non-theological genres
• the marks of the true Church as motifs in non-theological genres
• implications of polemical theology for the issues of historical consciousness and national identity as displayed in early modern texts written in both Latin and the vernaculars
• manuals of controversy and their literary use beyond polemical theology
• non-theological motifs in the genre of polemical theology
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