CONF: Spaces, Places and Times of Solitude (Bern, 9-11 December 2015)

A Three-Day International and Interdisciplinary Conference
University of Bern, 9–11 December 2015
Hallerstrasse 6, Room 205
Organized by Christine Göttler, University of Bern, in collaboration with Karl A. E. Enenkel, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster
This conference asks about the construction, imagination and representation of the space of solitude in art, architecture,
literature, church history and theology throughout the late medieval and early modern periods. It addresses, among other themes, the
construction of ‘sacred solitude’ by various monastic orders; the literary and visual imagination of coenobitic or communal solitude; and
the role of interiority and solitude in reform movements. Are there liturgical time periods specifically associated with solitude such as
Lent and Easter? How was the space of prayer conceived of, imagined and represented in the late medieval and early modern European world? Other
major questions concern the imagery and different forms of contemptus mundi and the role of early modern cultural criticism, including court
criticism. From the 1300s onwards, solitude also became intrinsically connected with the space of aesthetic production (writing, drawing,
painting). Topics discussed in the conference include discourses, practices, spaces, places and objects that shaped the construction of solitary selves in various societal environments and cultures.
Attendance is free of charge but due to limited seats, registration is required until 30 November 2015. Contact: Michèle Seehafer,
For more information please visit our website:
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
Welcome and Introduction (Christine Göttler and Karl A. E. Enenkel)
Session 1: Solitude in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
chaired by Walter S. Melion
Karl A. E. Enenkel, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster
Petrarch’s construction of the Sacred Place (locus sacer) in ‘De vita solitaria’ and other writings
Christine Göttler, University of Bern
The re-invention of solitude in late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century art
Coffee and tea
Session 2: Solitude in the Forest and on the Mountain Top
chaired by Agnès Guiderdoni
Stefan Abel, University of Bern
Wolfram’s ‘soltâne’: On the impossibility of an artificial paradise
Bernd Roling, Freie Universität Berlin
Seeress in the Woods: The early modern debate on Veleda, Auricinia and Vola
Isabella Augart, University of Hamburg
Stony solitudes: Rock formations in Trecento painting as sites of poetic inspiration and hermit contemplation
Buffet for speakers and invited guests
Thursday, 10 December 2015
Session 3: Hermit Iconographies
chaired by Richard Nemec
Dominic E. Delarue, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Late medieval legendaries as a summa of solitude: Different forms of hermit iconography in the illustrations of the Legenda aurea and other hagiographic manuscripts
James Clifton, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston
“Ne viderent oculi mei arbores”: Landscape and prayer in eremetical and mystical practice and imagery
Coffee and tea
Session 4: Solitude in Jesuit Emblematics
chaired by James Clifton
Agnès Guiderdoni, Université catholique de Louvain
Compositio loci: Constructing the imaginary desert of the soul in the emblematic literature
Walter S. Melion, Emory University
Emblemata solitariae Passionis: Jan David, S.J. on the solitary Passion of Christ
Lunch break
Session 5: Places of Solitude: The Chapel, the Ermitage, and the Studiolo
chaired by Christine Göttler
Steffen Zierholz, University of Bern
Solitude in the chapel of Fra Mariano del Piombo in San Silvestro al Quirinale in Rome
Carla Benzan, University of Essex
Alone at the summit: Solitude and the ascetic imagination at Varallo’s Mount Tabor
Christiane J. Hessler, Berlin
Dead men talking: The studiolo of Urbino – A Duke in mourning and the Petrarchan tradition
Coffee and tea
Keynote Lecture: University of Bern, Hauptgebäude, Hörsaal 220
Karl A. E. Enenkel, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster
Petrarcas Stadtkritik in ‘De vita solitaria’ und anderen Schriften
Maria Bindschedler-Gastvorlesung, Berner Mittelalter Zentrum,
Ringvorlesung: Stadtgemeinschaften – Stadtkulturen
Introduction: Christine Göttler and Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich, University
of Bern
Dinner for speakers and invited guests (Haus der Universität)
Friday, 11 December 2015
Session 6: Solitude in the World: The Monastery and the School
chaired by Bernd Roling
Mette Birkedal Bruun, University of Copenhagen
Solitudes with permeable boundaries: La Trappe and its repercussions
Lars Nørgaard, University of Copenhagen
Crafting solitude: Individual and collective transitions at Saint Cyr
Coffee and tea
Session 7: The Construction of Female Solitudes
chaired by Arnold Witte
Eelco Nagelsmit, University of Copenhagen
The solitary tree: Mademoiselle de Guise between ‘salonnière’ and ‘solitaire’
Marie Theres Stauffer, University of Geneva
The hermitage in Bayreuth and the ‘Spiegelscherbenkabinett’
Lunch break
Session 8: The Architecture of Solitude
chaired by Eelco Nagelsmit
Richard Nemec, University of Bern
‘Solitudo and ostentatio’: The papal and royal-imperial residences of Benedict XI and Charles IV
Arnold Witte, Royal Netherlands Institute, Rome
From literature to architecture: Pliny’s diaeta and the origins of the early modern hermitage as a space for aesthetics
David R. Marshall, University of Melbourne
Aristocratic solitude: The Villa Patrizi and the early modern romitorio
Coffee and tea
Session 9: Aesthetics and Poetry of Solitude
chaired by Mette Birkedal Bruun
Paul J. Smith, Leiden University
‘Passer solitarius in tecto’: Tribulations of a lonely bird in poetry and natural history, from Petrarch to Buffon
Barbara Baert, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
The sleeping nymph: Genius loci and silence
Concluding discussion (Karl A. E. Enenkel and Christine Göttler)

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