Spaces, Places, and Times of Solitude in Late Medieval and Early Modern Cultures


This book explores the spatial, material, and affective dimensions of solitude in the late medieval and early modern periods, a hitherto largely neglected topic. Its focus is on the dynamic qualities of “space” and “place”, which are here understood as being shaped, structured, and imbued with meaning through both social and discursive solitary practices such as reading, writing, studying, meditating, and praying. Individual chapters investigate the imageries and imaginaries of outdoor and indoor spaces and places associated with solitude and its practices and examine the ways in which the space of solitude was conceived of, imagined, and represented in the arts and in literature, from about 1300 to about 1800.

Contributors include Oskar Bätschmann, Carla Benzan, Mette Birkedal Bruun, Dominic E. Delarue, Karl A.E. Enenkel, Christine Göttler, Agnès Guiderdoni, Christiane J. Hessler, Walter S. Melion, Raphaèle Preisinger, Bernd Roling, Paul Smith, Marie Theres Stauffer, Arnold A. Witte, and Steffen Zierholz.

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Karl A.E. Enenkel is Professor of Medieval Latin and Neo-Latin at the University of Münster. He was formerly Professor of Neo-Latin at the University of Leiden. He has published widely on international humanism, early modern culture, paratexts, literary genres 1300-1600, Neo-Latin emblems, word and image relationships, and the history of scholarship and science.

Christine Göttler is Professor emerita of Art History at the University of Bern. She has published extensively on diverse topics ranging from Reformation iconoclasm, post-Tridentine spirituality, and the relationship between art, nature, and the senses to historical aspects of early modern artists’ materials and the visual and spatial imagery of interiority and the imagination.
“This edited volume is indispensable for anyone pursuing research in the formation of the cultures of modernity. The students of the history of culture, literature, art, and architecture of late medieval and early modern period of the West will equally find this book an important addition to their resources.”
Mehran Qureshi, in: Reading Religion, 1 October 2020.

Notes on the Editors
Notes on the Contributors
List of Illustrations

1 Realms of Solitude in Late Medieval and Early Modern European Cultures: An Introduction
Christine Göttler

Part 1: Solitude in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Foundations, Shifts, and Transformations

2 Petrarch’s Constructions of the Sacred Solitary Place in De vita solitaria and Other Writings
Karl A.E. Enenkel

3 Monastic Solitude as Spiritual Remedy and Firewall against Reformation: Cornelius Musius’s Reappraisal of the Vita Solitaria (1566)
Karl A.E. Enenkel

4 Concepts of Solitude in Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda aurea
Dominic E. Delarue

5 ‘Sacred Woods’: Performing Solitude at the Court of Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria
Christine Göttler

Part 2: Solitude in the Pictorial and Emblematic Imagination

6 Anachoretic Ideals in Urban Settings: Meditational Practices and Mural Painting in Trecento Italy
Raphaèle Preisinger

7 Constructing the Imaginary Desert of the Soul in Emblematic Literature
Agnès Guiderdoni

8 Emblemata solitariae Passionis: Jan David, S.J., on the Solitary Passion of Christ
Walter S. Melion

Part 3: Landscapes of Solitude

9 Giovanni Bellini’s San Francesco nel deserto
Oskar Bätschmann

10 Landscapes and Visual Exegesis: Solitude in the Chapel of Fra Mariano Fetti in San Silvestro al Quirinale
Steffen Zierholz

11 Alone at the Summit: Solitude and the Ascetic Imagination at the Sacro Monte of Varallo
Carla Benzan

Part 4: Architectures of Solitude

12 Dead Men Talking: The Studiolo of Urbino. A Duke in Mourning and the Petrarchan Tradition
Christiane J. Hessler

13 Sociable Solitude: The Early Modern Hermitage as Proto-Museum
Arnold A. Witte

14 A Solitude of Permeable Boundaries: The Abbey of La Trappe between Isolation and Engagement
Mette Birkedal Bruun

15 Mirrors and Memories: The Chinese Mirror Cabinet at the Hermitage near Bayreuth
Marie Theres Stauffer

Part 5: Solitude in Antiquarian and Natural History

16 The Prophetess in the Woods: The Early Modern Debate about Veleda, Aurinia, and Vola
Bernd Roling

17 Passer solitarius: Tribulations of a Lonely Bird in Poetry and Natural History, from Petrarch to Buffon
Paul J. Smith

Index Nominum
All interested in the history of solitude from about 1300 to about 1800, and anyone concerned with the physical and metaphorical space of the desert and wilderness and the fashioning of religious, scholarly, and poetic selves.
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