The Soul’s Encounter with God in Medieval Western and Byzantine Christianity: Theology, Philosophy, Literature, Art/ La communion de l’âme avec Dieu dans le christianisme médiéval occidental et byzantin: théologie, philosophie, littérature, art. International conference organized by the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bucharest,11th-12th of November 2022.
The Soul’s Encounter with God in Medieval Western and Byzantine Christianity: Theology, Philosophy, Literature, Art / La communion de l’âme avec Dieu dans le christianisme médiéval occidental et byzantin: théologie, philosophie, littérature, art
“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God” (Ps 41 LXX / 42 NIV)
This year marks the millenary anniversary of the passing of Saint Symeon the New Theologian (949 – 12th March 1022), one of the most influential mystical theologians, to whose writings the evolution of the Byzantine Church is much indebted. Saint Symeon’s writings belong to the tradition of Christian mysticism, which originated in the early Church and appropriated part of the philosophical thoughts of Plato and his followers. Mysticism developed equally in Western Christianity through the channel of monasticism or through translations of writings belonging to Eastern Church Fathers.
In the past decade, the mystics, the large spectrum of their corpus of writings, as well as the art and the movements that they inspired, have been subject of an increasing interest for scholars such as Bernard McGinn, Jean Daniélou, Ilaria Vigorelli, Martin Laird, Douglas Burton-Christie, Dyan Elliot, Andrew Louth, Charles Stang, Brian Patrick McGuire, Columba Stewart, and many others. The University of Oxford has created The Mystical Theology Network, which organizes a yearly conference and has published six volumes on mysticism and mystical theology. No less than four Companions focus on conceptualization, devotional practices, and contexts of the soul’s movement toward, contemplation, and encounter with God have been published since 2012. Yet other scholars focus on individual visionary figures in both Western and Byzantine Christianity, such as Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Symeon the New Theologian, or Meister Eckhart. In this context, the international conference organized by the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Bucharest aims at contributing to these achievements by surveying diachronic aspects of mysticism, ranging from the roots of the mystical tradition in Greek philosophy and Judaism to the Early Christian expressions, followed by the Western Medieval and Byzantine developments. Mystical experiences and accounts of the soul’s encounter with God can be scrutinized in theological, philosophical, literary, or artistic sources.
The Center’s scientific committee suggest the following possible research directions:
– points of convergence and divergence between Medieval Western and Byzantine mysticism
– pre-Christian traditions of the intellectual quest for God
– travelling in search of God
– the proper space for contemplating God
– time and memory of contemplating God
– ways of approaching and communicating with the Divinity
– stages in the ascension and communion with God
– the apophatic approach to God
– obstacles and failures in the quest for God
– gendered mysticism
– emotions in the quest for God
– textual, visual, and musical representations of the soul’s communion with God
– mysticism as a political instrument
– profane and religious literature on the soul’s communion with God
– conceptualizing the soul’s encounter with God.
We invite junior, early career, and senior scholars to submit proposals for short lectures (20 minutes).
Languages of communication: French, English, Spanish, Italian.
Submission of proposals:
The applications must include the title, a 350-word abstract in English or French, and a biographical note, and will be sent electronically to the following addresses: email@example.com
Please specify, in the body of the message, the title of the communication, the name of the author (s) and the institution (s) of affiliation.
The proposals will be assessed by a scientific committee consisting of senior members of the Center for Medieval Studies.
Deadline for submission of proposals:
September the 1st, 2022.
Notification of acceptance of proposals: a response will be sent to contributors no later than October the 1st, 2022
Expected duration of communications: 20 minutes (followed by 10 minutes of discussions).
Place of the event: University of Bucharest.
The conference will be a hybrid event, organized both in person at the University of Bucharest, in compliance with the necessary sanitary regulations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and online.
After the conference, the presenters will be invited to submit their papers for publication in a peer-reviewed volume gathering the conference proceedings.
Organizer: The Center for Medieval Studies, University of Bucharest.
Mihaela Voicu (University of Bucharest)
Luminița Diaconu (University of Bucharest)
Mianda Cioba (University of Bucharest)
Ecaterina Lung (University of Bucharest)
Corina Anton (University of Bucharest)
Andra Jugănaru (University of Bucharest)
Bogdan Tătaru-Cazaban (Institute for the History of Religions, Romanian Academy)