Meditatio – Refashioning the Self

Theory and Practice in Late Medieval and Early Modern Intellectual Culture


The late medieval and early modern period is a particularly interesting chapter in the development of meditation and self-reflection. Meditation may best be described as a self-imposed disciplinary regime, consisting of mental and physical exercises that allowed the practitioner to engender and evaluate his self-image, and thence to emend and refashion it. The volume aims at examining the forms and functions, ways and means of meditation from c. 1300 to c. 1600. It tries to analyze the internal exercises that mobilized the sensitive faculties of motion, emotion, and sense (both external and internal) and the intellective faculties of reason, memory, and will, with a view to reforming the soul, and the techniques of visualization that were frequently utilized to engage the soul’s mediating function as vinculum mundi, its pivotal position in the great chain of being between heaven and earth, temporal and spiritual experience. Contributors include Barbara Baert, Wietse de Boer, Feike Dietz, Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen, Karl Enenkel, Jan de Jong, Walter Melion, Wolfgang Neuber, Hilmar Pabel, Jan Papy, Paul Smith, Diana Stanciu, Nikolaus Staubach, Jacob Vance, and Geert Warnar.
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Biographical Note

Karl A.E. Enenkel, Ph.D. (Leiden, 1990) is Professor of Medieval and Neo-Latin Literature at the University of Münster, Germany, and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He has published on international Humanism, the reception of Classical Antiquity, the history of ideas, literary genres and emblem studies. Walter S. Melion, Ph.D. (1988) in Art History, University of California, Berkeley, is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta. He has published extensively on Dutch and Flemish art and art theory of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His books include Shaping the Netherlandish Canon: Karel van Mander's 'Schilder-Boeck' (University of Chicago, 1991) and The Meditative Art: Studies in the Northern Devotional Print (Saint Joseph's University, 2009).

Table of contents

Introduction I. MEDITATIO AND REFASHIONING THE SELF IN LITERATURE, 1300-1600 Meditative Frames as Reader’s Guidance in Neo-Latin Texts KARL ENENKEL Petrarch’s “Inner Eye” in the Familiarium libri XXIV JAN PAPY The Discovery of the Dialogue in Medieval Dutch Literature. A Discourse for Meditation and Disputation GEERT WARNAR From Meditation to Reverie: Montaigne and Rousseau PAUL SMITH Exscribo ergo sum. Self-Reflexion and Meditiation in Early Modern German Family Books WOLFGANG NEUBER II. RELIGIOUS MEDITATION IN LATE MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN THEOLOGY Accomplishing one’s Essence: the Role of Meditation in the Theology of Gabriel Biel DIANA STANCIU Twelfth and Sixteenth Century Discourses on Meditation and Contemplation. Lefevre d’Etaples’ Commentaries on Richard of Saint Victor’s De Trinitate JACOB VANCE Die Meditation im spirituellen Reformprogramm der Devotio Moderna NIKOLAUS STAUBACH Love Tricks and Flea-Bitings: Meditation, Imagination and the Pain of Christ in Joseph Hall and Richard Crawshaw JAN FRANS VAN DIJKHUIZEN III. EXERCITIA SPIRITUALIA: MEDITATION AND THE JESUITS Invisible Contemplation: a Paradox in the Spiritual Exercises WIETSE DE BOER Meditation in the Service of Catholic Orthodoxy: Peter Canisius’ Notae Evangelicae HILMAR PABEL Dark Images, Clear Words. Pieter Paets’s Illustrated Devotional Literature from the Missio Hollandica FEIKE DIETZ IV. RELIGIOUS MEDITATION IN THE VISUAL ARTS, 13TH – 17TH CENTURY He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease. On the Spiritual and Pictorial Intertwining between the Johannesschüssel and the Vera Icon (1200-1500) BARBARA BAERT Cultivating Piety. Religious Art and Artists After the Council of Trent JAN L. DE JONG Exegetical Duality as a Meditative Crux in Maarten van Heemskerck’s Balaam and the Angel in a Panoramic Landscape of 1554 WALTER S. MELION


Interdisciplinary academic readership, interested in the early modern period, especially in the history of religion, theology, cultural history, literary criticism, and art history.