April 10-11, 2014: International Conference Ten Commandments in medieval and early modern culture

The Department of Literary Studies at Ghent University is pleased to announce that it will host an international conference on the Ten Commandments in medieval and early modern culture on April 10-11, 2014.

The rise to prominence of the Ten Commandments dates back to the 12th century. In that period exegetes such as Hugh of Saint Victor emphasized the importance of the Decalogue as a list of moral principles. A century later the Ten Commandments permeated scholastic learning as well as catechetical teaching. They became a useful instrument for the examination of conscience in preparation for the mandatory annual confession introduced by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). By the second half of the 15th century, the Commandments were omnipresent in religious culture. Their diverse textual  and visual manifestations were found in a variety of media, from manuscripts and printed books, to wall paintings and wooden panels. The prominence of the Decalogue continued amongst the Protestants, albeit with a different emphasis than in Catholic teaching.

The heterogeneity of the preserved Decalogue material inspires numerous research questions, many of which are vital and yet largely unexplored. It also poses methodological challenges to scholars who seek to explore and understand the role of the Ten Commandments within a broader context of medieval and early modern culture. Bearing this in mind, we invited papers that elaborate on various aspects of textual – both Latin and vernacular – and visual manifestations of the Decalogue in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The proposed papers put emphasis on the broader cultural context in which the Decalogue functioned, as well as on the methodological and theoretical aspects of the discussed piece of research.


Day 1: Thursday, April 10, 2014

9:00-9:30 Registration, coffee

9:30-9:45 Opening of the conference, a word of welcome from the organisers

9:45-11:15 Session 1: Theological perspectives on the Decalogue in the middle ages and the early modern period

Luca Gili, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium
‘Who will inherit the Kingdom of God’? Thomas Aquinas and Dante on the insufficiency of the observance the Decalogue in order to be saved

Marta Bigus, Ghent University, Belgium
Theology of the Decalogue in fourteenth-century vernacular texts from the Low Countries

David Kim, University of Seoul, South Korea
The coveting of the Decalogue in Luther’s Large Catechism

11:15-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-13:00 Session 2: The Decalogue in religious instruction 1: sermons

Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies Toronto, Canada
The Ten Commandments in the thirteenth-century pastoral manual Qui bene presunt

Krzysztof Bracha, Jan Kochanowski University, Kielce / Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
The Ten Commandments in preaching in the late medieval Poland: Sermo de praeceptis from the ms. 3022 at the National Library in Warsaw

Fabrizio Conti, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Shaping religious identities through the Ten Commandments. The Franciscan Observant pastoral approach in the fifteenth-century Milan

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:30 Session 3: The Decalogue in religious instruction 2: other textual tools for religious instruction

Michael Madrinkian, Hertford College, University of Oxford, UK
The Decalogue and the reform of the late fourteenth century: an unpublished prose text of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud Misc. 656

Lucie Dolezalova, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
The Ten Commandments and the Ten Plagues: a curious poem in the context of late medieval Latin biblical mnemonics in Central Europe

Jonas Carlquist and Virginia Langum, Umeå University, Sweden
Narrating the Ten Commandments and Seven Sins in Middle English and Old Swedish15:30- 15:45 Coffee break

15:45-17:15 Session 4: The Decalogue in medieval and early modern literature 1

Joachim Yeshaya, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
The Ten Commandments in late Byzantine and early Ottoman Karaite-Jewish poetry and Bible exegesis

Charlotte Cooper, St. Edmunds Hall, University of Oxford, UK
Christine de Pizan’s Epistre Othea: the Ten Commandments allegorised

Alexander Roose, Ghent University, Belgium
Les commandements d’Amour – Le Roman de la Rose and the Decalogue

17:15-18:30 Keynote Lecture: Lesley Smith, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford,  UK
Title to be announced

19:00-…. Conference diner for invited speakers

 Day 2: Friday, April 11, 2014

9:30-11:20 Session 1: The Decalogue visualised

Lucy Wooding, King’s College London, UK
Visualizing vice and virtue: images of the Decalogue in late medieval and reformation English culture

 Jonathan Willis, University of Birmingham, UK
Picturing the Ten Commandments in the post-reformation English parish church

Stefania Gargioni, University of Kent, UK/Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Between text and image: the representation of the Decalogue in 1560s Calvinist French texts

Henk van den Belt, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
The law illuminated: biblical illustrations of the Commandments in Lutheran Catechisms

11:20-11:35 Coffee break

11:35-13:00 Session 2: The Decalogue in medieval and early modern literature 2

Youri Desplenter and Lise Gosseye, Ghent University, Belgium
The Ten Commandments and the inner life: the case of Jan van Leeuwen and Willem Teellinck

Gregory Haake, Stanford University, USA
Loving neighbor before god: the first commandment in early modern lyric poetry

Michele De Benedictis
I could set my Ten Commandments in your face. Dramatization of the Decalogue in early modern England

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:30  Session 3: The Decalogue in reformatory and contra-reformatory movements

Stephen Lahey, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA
The Decalogue as revolutionary text in Hussite Bohemia

Jameson Tucker, University of Plymouth, UK
What He commands: the Ten Commandments in a late Vaudois confession of faith

Waldemar Kowalski, Jan Kochanowski Universiteit, Kielce, Poland
The Significance of the Ten Commandments in Christian formation: Cracow and Lesser Poland in the sixteenth century

15:30-15:45 Coffee break

15:45-17:00 Keynote Lecture 2: Robert J. Bast, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
The Ten Commandments and pastoral care in late-medieval and early modern Europe: an inquiry into expectations and outcomes

17:00-… Drinks