Rachel Fulton
Department of History
The University of Chicago

Autumn 2001


This seminar is intended to introduce monasticism as one of the central intellectual, social, and cultural institutions of medieval Europe through an examination of its basic psychological and spiritual principals. Topics to be addressed include the ideal of asceticism and withdrawal from the world as a form of spiritual discipline, the structuring of time and space for the purposes of prayer, lectio divina and the interpretation of Scripture, memory and the construction of self and community, the ideals of conversion, renewal and reform, devotion, and the effects of gender and age on the realization of these ideals. Readings will draw on primary sources including saints' lives, rules and customaries, liturgies, scriptural commentaries, handbooks of spiritual advice, prayers and other devotional treatises, cartularies, histories and chronicles, as well as on appropriate specialized scholarship and more theoretical works dealing with religious experience, interpretation, and cognition.

The purpose of this course is to help students prepare to write a substantial research paper on a topic of their choice. The assigned readings are therefore geared towards introducing a range of approaches in modern scholarship to the problem of monasticism. The primary written requirement for this quarter will be a detailed proposal for the research paper with bibliography of sources and appropriate scholarly literature. A number of shorter assignments will be given each week over the course of the quarter in order to assist in the process of preparing the proposal.


RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes, ed. Timothy Fry (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1981).

Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).

Etienne Gilson, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, trans. A.H.C. Downes (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991).

John Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).

The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, eds. Thomas J. Heffernan and E. Ann Matter (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2001).

Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. Willard R. Trask (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1959).

Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Henri de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis. Volume I: The Four Senses of Scripture, trans. Mark Sebanc (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1998).

Anselm of Canterbury, Prayers and Meditations, trans. Benedicta Ward (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973).

Guigo II the Carthusian, "Ladder of Monks" and "Twelve Meditations," trans. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh, Cistercian Studies Series 48 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1979).

Theophilus, On Divers Arts, trans. John G. Hawthorne and Cyril Stanley Smith (New York: Dover, 1979).

Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982).

Gertrude the Great of Helfta, Spiritual Exercises, trans. Gertrud Jaron Lewis and Jack Lewis, Cistercian Fathers Series 49 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1989).

Hugh of Poitiers, The Vézelay Chronicle, trans. John Scott and John O. Ward (Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1992).

Ludo J.R. Milis, Angelic Monks and Earthly Men: Monasticism and its Meaning to Medieval Society (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1992).

Giles Constable, The Reformation of the Twelfth-Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Ray Rappaport, Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).


September 26 Introduction

  • Regula sancti Benedicti, in RB 1980, pp. 156-297.

  • Mark Sheridan and Claude Peifer, "Introduction," in RB 1980, pp. 3-151.
  • Jean Leclercq, "The Monastic Crisis of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries," in Cluniac Monasticism in the Central Middle Ages, ed. Noreen Hunt (London: Archon Press, 1971), pp. 217-37.
  • John Van Engen, "The 'Crisis of Cenobitism' Reconsidered: Benedictine Monasticism in the Years 1050-1150," Speculum 61 (1986): 269-304.
  • Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, trans. Michael Chase (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), pp. 81-144.
  • Talal Asad, "On Discipline and Humility in Medieval Christian Monasticism," in Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), pp. 125-67.
  • Brown, The Body and Society, pp. 160-77, 213-284, 341-447.
  • Richard Valantasis, "A Theory of the Social Function of Asceticism," in Asceticism, eds. Vincent L. Wimbush and Richard Valantasis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 544-552.
  • William C. Bushell, "Psychophysiological and Comparative Analysis of Ascetico-Meditational Discipline: Toward a New Theory of Asceticism," in Asceticism, eds. Wimbush and Valantasis, pp. 553-75.
October 3 Customaries: Structuring Community
  • Statuta seu Brevia Adalhardi abbatis Corbiensis, trans. Charles W. Jones as "The Customs of Corbie: Consuetudines Corbeiensis," in Walter Horn and Ernest Born, The Plan of St. Gall: A Study of the Architecture and Economy of, and Life in a Paradigmatic Carolingian Monastery, 3 vols., University of California Studies in the History of Art 19 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979), 3: 91-123.

  • Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice, Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology 16 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), pp. 1-30, 72-95, 159-97.
  • Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 43-76.
  • William H. Sewell, Jr., "A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation," American Journal of Sociology 98/1 (1992): 1-29.
  • Victor Turner, "Passages, Margins, and Poverty: Religious Symbols of Communitas," in Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp. 231-71.
  • Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), pp. 1-28, 159-79.
  • Bernard Williams, Shame and Necessity, Sather Classical Lectures 57 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 75-102, 219-223.
  • Gilson, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, pp. 304-63.
October 10 The Divine Office: Structuring Time
  • Psalms for Wednesdays (Vulgate)
  • Peter Damian, Letter 17, in Letters 1-30, trans. Owen J. Blum, The Fathers of the Church, Mediaeval Continuation (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1989), pp. 145-58.

  • Nathan Mitchell, "The Liturgical Code in the Rule of St. Benedict," in RB 1980, pp. 379-414.
  • Harper, Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, pp. 24-108, 224-34.
  • Stephan Borgehammer, "A Monastic Conception of the Liturgical Year," and Jonathan Black, "The Divine Office and Private Devotion in the Latin West," in The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, eds. Heffernan and Matter, pp. 13-71.
  • Joseph Dyer, "The Psalms in Monastic Prayer," in The Place of the Psalms in the Intellectual Culture of the Middle Ages, ed. Nancy Van Deusen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), pp. 59-89.
  • Barbara H. Rosenwein, "Feudal War and Monastic Peace: Cluniac Liturgy as Ritual Aggression," Viator 2 (1971): 127-57.
  • Jean Leclercq, "Prayer at Cluny," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 51 (1983): 651-666.
  • Karl F. Morrison, "'Know Thyself': Music in the Carolingian Renaissance," in Committenti e produzione artistico-letteraria nell'alto medioevo occidentale, Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo 39, pt. 1 (1991): 369-479.
  • Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, pp. 68-113.
  • Rappaport, Ritual and Religion, pp. 169-215.
  • Gilson, Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, pp. 84-147.
October 17 Lectio divina: Structuring Self
  • Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, trans. D.W. Robertson, Jr (New York: Macmillan, 1958), pp. 3-7, 78-117.
  • Gregory the Great, "Exposition of the Song of Songs," in Denys Turner, Eros and Allegory: Medieval Exegesis of the Song of Songs, Cistercian Studies Seris 156 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1995), pp. 215-55.
  • Bede, On the Temple, trans. Seán Connolly with introduction by Jennifer O'Reilly (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995), pp. 1-63.
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs I, trans. Kilian Walsh, Cistercian Fathers Series 4 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 1-20.
  • Aelred of Rievaulx, "On Jesus at the Age of Twelve," trans. Theodore Berkeley, in Treatises and Pastoral Prayer, Cistercian Fathers Series 2 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1971), pp. 3-39.

  • Carruthers, The Craft of Thought, pp. 1-115.
  • de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis, pp. xiii-xxiii, 1-74, 225-67.
  • Paul Griffiths, Religious Reading: The Place of Reading in the Practice of Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 22-28, 40-108.
  • Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture, trans. Catharine Misrahi, 3rd ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982), pp. 25-36, 71-88, 255-70.
  • Douglas Burton-Christie, The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 107-77.
  • Gerhart B. Ladner, 'Medieval and Modern Understanding of Symbolism: A Comparison," in Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages, Storia e letteratura 155 (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1983), pp. 239-62.
  • Paul Saenger, "Silent Reading: Its Impact on Late Medieval Script and Society," Viator 13 (1982): 367-414.
October 24 Prayer
  • Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos, trans. John E. Bamberger, Cistercian Studies Series 4 (Spencer: Cistercian Publications, 1970), pp. 12-42.
  • John Cassian, Conferences 1, 9, 10, and 18, trans. Colm Luibheid, The Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), pp. 37-59, 101-40, 183-201.
  • Anselm of Canterbury, Prayers and Meditations, trans. Ward, pp. 89-99, 102-5, 163-73, 196-206, 220-237.
  • William of St. Thierry, "On Contemplating God" and "Prayer," in The Works of William of St Thierry I, trans. Sister Penelope, Cistercian Fathers Series 3 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 36-64, 71-74.
  • Guigo II the Carthusian, "Ladder of Monks" and "Twelve Meditations," trans. Colledge and Walsh, pp. 67-131.

  • Carruthers, Craft of Thought, pp. 116-70.
  • Columba Stewart, Cassian the Monk (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 85-130.
  • Richard Valantasis, "Demons and the Perfecting of the Monk's Body: Monastic Anthropology, Daemonlogy, and Asceticism," Semeia 58 (1992): 47-80.
  • Megan McLaughlin, Consorting with Saints: Prayer for the Dead in Early Medieval France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 178-249.
  • Mayke De Jong, "Carolingian Monasticism: The Power of Prayer," in The New Cambridge Medieval History, ed. Rosamond McKitterick, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995-1998), pp. 622-53.
  • Friedrich Heiler, Prayer: A Study in the History and Psychology of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932), pp. 104-34, 353-63.
  • Scarry, Body in Pain, pp. 161-80.
October 31 Cloister and Choir: Structuring Space
  • Wolfgang Braunfels, Monasteries of Western Europe: The Architecture of the Orders, trans. Alastair Laing (London: Thames and Hudson, 1972), pp. 37-110.
  • Roberta Gilchrist, Contemplation and Action: The Other Monasticism (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1995), pp. 106-56.
  • J. Patrick Green, Medieval Monasteries (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1992), pp. 57-86.
  • Amy Remensnyder, Remembering Kings Past: Monastic Foundation Legends in Medieval Southern France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), pp. 19-86.
  • Elizabeth C. Parker, "Architecture as Liturgical Setting," in The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, eds. Heffernan and Matter, pp. 273-326.
  • Carol Heitz, "Architecture et liturgie processionnelle à l'époque préromane," Revue de l'Art 24 (1974): 30-47.
  • Anne Walters [Robertson], "The Reconstruction of the Abbey Church at St-Denis (1231-81): The Interplay of Music and Ceremony with Architecture and Politics," Early Music History 5: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music, ed. Iain Fenlon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 187-238.
  • Richard E. Sullivan, "What was Carolingian Monasticism? The Plan of St. Gall and the History of Monasticism," in After Rome's Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History. Essays Presented to Walter Goffart, ed. Alexander Callander Murray (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), pp. 251-87.
  • Roberta Gilchrist, Gender and Material Culture: The Archaeology of Religious Women (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 128-69.
  • Carruthers, Craft of Thought, pp. 221-76.
  • Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, pp. 20-65.
November 7 Making I: Art
  • Theophilus, On Divers Arts, trans. Hawthorne and Smith.
  • Suger of St.-Denis, "On What Was Done Under His Administration," in On the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and its Art Treasures, ed. and trans. Erwin Panofsky (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946), pp. 40-81.
  • Bernard, "Apologia to Abbot William," in Treatises I¸ trans. Michael Casey, Cistercian Fathers Series 1 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1970), pp. 33-69.

  • John Van Engen, "Theophilus Presbyter and Rupert of Deutz: The Manual Arts and Benedictine Theology in the Early Twelfth Century," Viator 11 (1980): 147-63.
  • Carruthers, Craft of Thought, pp. 171-220.
  • Karl F. Morrison, History as a Visual Art in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), pp. xiii-xxiv, 20-135.
  • Conrad Rudolph, The "Things of Greater Importance": Bernard of Clairvaux's Apologia and the Medieval Attitude Towards Art (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), pp. 3-56, 70-79, 104-24, 193-201.
  • Jeffrey Hamburger, "The Visual and the Visionary: The Image in Late Medieval Monastic Devotions," in The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (New York: Zone Books, 1998), pp. 111-48.
  • Jeffrey Hamburger, Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 177-211.
  • Scarry, Body in Pain, pp. 278-326.
November 14 Making II: Conversion
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, "On Conversion, A Sermon to Clerics," in Sermons on Conversion, trans. Marie-Bernard Saïd, Cistercian Fathers Series 25 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 31-79.
  • Walter Daniel, The Life of Aelred of Rievaulx, trans. F.M. Powicke, Cistercian Fathers Series 57 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1994 [1950]), pp. 89-140.

  • Claude Peifer, "Monastic Formation and Profession," in RB 1980, pp. 437-66.
  • Mayke de Jong, In Samuel's Image: Child Oblation in the Early Medieval West (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996), pp. 126-55.
  • Mayke de Jong, "Growing up in a Carolingian Monastery: Magister Hildemar and his Oblates," Journal of Medieval History 9 (1983): 99-128.
  • John Boswell, The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988), pp. 228-55, 296-321, 438-44, and 452-58.
  • Caroline Walker Bynum, "Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual?," in Jesus as Mother, pp. 82-109.
  • Martha Newman, The Boundaries of Charity: Cistercian Culture and Ecclesiastical Reform, 1098-1180 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), pp. 21-96.
  • Karl F. Morrison, Understanding Conversion (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992), pp. 122-53.
  • Thomas Heffernan, Sacred Biography: Saints and their Biographers in the Middle Ages (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 72-122.
  • Gilson, Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, pp. 168-228.
  • Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, pp. 162-213.
November 21 Making III: "Male and Female He Created Them…"
  • Theodoric of Echternach, "The Life of Holy Hildegard," in Jutta and Hildegard: The Biographical Sources, trans. Anna Silvas (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), pp. 135-210.
  • Gertrude the Great of Helfta, Spiritual Exercises, trans. Lewis and Lewis, pp. 21-146.

  • Penelope Johnson, Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in Medieval France (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 1-9, 229-47.
  • Barbara Newman, "Flaws in the Golden Bowl: Gender and Spiritual Formation in the Twelfth Century," in From Virile Woman to WomanChrist: Studies in Medieval Religion and Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), pp. 19-45.
  • Barbara Newman, "Hildegard and Her Hagiographers: The Remaking of Female Sainthood," in Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and their Interpreters, ed. Catherine Mooney (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), pp. 16-34.
  • John Van Engen, "Abbess: 'Mother and Teacher,'" in Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World, ed. Barbara Newman (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 30-51.
  • Alison Beach, "Claustration and Collaboration between the Sexes in the Twelfth-Century Scriptorium," in Monks and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society, eds. Sharon Farmer and Barbara Rosenwein (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), pp. 57-75.
  • Caroline Walker Bynum, "Women Mystics in the Thirteenth Century: The Case of the Nuns of Helfta," in Jesus as Mother, pp. 170-262.
  • Judith Oliver, "Worship of the Word: Some Gothic Nonnenbücher in their Devotional Context," in Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence, eds. Jane H.M. Taylor and Lesley Smith (London and Toronto: The British Library and University of Toronto Press, 1997), pp. 106-22.
  • Hamburger, "Art, Enclosure, and the Pastoral Care of Nuns," in The Visual and the Visionary, pp. 35-109.
  • Bruce Holsinger, Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 87-136, 191-225, 240-53.
November 28 The Cloister and the World
  • Hugh of Poitiers, The Vézelay Chronicle, trans. Scott and Ward, pp. 97-197.

  • Milis, Angelic Monks and Earthly Men
  • Barbara Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of St. Peter: The Social Meaning of Cluny's Property, 909-1049 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), pp. 125-43, 196-207.
  • Constance B. Bouchard, "Merovingian, Carolingian and Cluniac Monasticism: Reform and Renewal in Burgundy," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 41/3 (1990): 365-88.
  • Constable, Reformation of the Twelfth-Century, pp. 209-56.
  • Barbara Rosenwein, Thomas Head, and Sharon Farmer, "Monks and Their Enemies: A Comparative Approach," Speculum 66/4 (October 1991): 764-96.
  • Phyllis G. Jestice, "The Gorzian Reform and the Light Under the Bushel," Viator 24 (1993): 51-78. [CB351.A1V62]


C.H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, 3rd ed. (London: Longman, 2001).

David Knowles, The Monastic Order in England: A History of its Development from the Times of St Dunstan to the Fourth Lateran Council 940-1216, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966).

Janet Burton, Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain, 1000-1300 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

Sharon Farmer, Communities of Saint Martin: Legend and Ritual in Medieval Tours (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991).

Noreen Hunt, Cluny under Saint Hugh, 1049-1109 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968).

Constance Hoffman Berman, The Cistercian Evolution: The Invention of a Religious Order in Twelfth-Century Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).

Jo Ann Kay McNamara, Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996).

Barbara Harvey, Living and Dying in England, 1100-1500: The Monastic Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Brian Patrick McGuire, Friendship and Community: The Monastic Experience 350-1250, Cistercian Studies Series 95 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1988).

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