The proposed study of early modern catholic reform movements sets out to investigate a cultural phenomenon that throughout Europe was shaped by female initiative. The goal is to examine the nexus of knowledge, power relations and female piety in early modern European societies.
Moreover, by re-evaluating the role women held in mysticism around 1700 and asking for the reasons of the failure of this model of thought and behaviour, in a second step the study shall allow a new understanding of the gendered development of secularisation in European society. Employing gender as a category of analysis enables a reconsideration of the traditional understanding of the beginning of modernity.
The analysis of the early modern renegotiation of gender roles will be under taken as a study of concrete circulation of cultural knowledge: the circulation of manuscripts and printed texts, tracing notices of particular publication strategies, travelling and meeting in devote circles, monasteries and at court.
It will be carried out as a detailed case study of quietist circles, exploring the differences that characterized the development of the movement in urban, courtly and provincial environment and the analogies between the French, the Italian, the Spanish and the German development.
The quietist movement was characterised by frequent exchanges across both territorial and confessional boundaries (analogies to pietism). The recent opening of the Archives of the Holy office and new sources now permit the separate and local branches to be interconnected and situated within the broader, European context.
Furthermore, it will be possible to demonstrate what political issues were at stake. Engaging in interdisciplinary dialogues and through the comparisons between the cultural production of different countries, the project will offer a new understanding of the specific contribution by women to European cultural heritage.
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