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wtorek, 17 czerwca 2008

Report on the conference

Culture of Memory in East Central Europe in the Late Middle Ages ((1000-1600),

Ciążeń, March 12-14,  2008


The international conference Culture of Memory in East Central Europe in the Late Middle Ages (1000-1600) was held at Poznań University Conference Centre in Ciążeń (March 12-14, 2008). The conference was attended by participants from Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Norway, the UK, the USA and Poland. The event was organized by Poznań University Library (represented by Rafał Wójcik) with the co-participation of the Centre of Theoretical Studies at Charles University in Prague (represented by Lucie DoleÂľalová) and Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (Gábor Farkas Kiss). The conference was partly financed by Poznań University Library and partly from a grant awarded by the International Visegrad Fund.

The essential objective of the conference was to provide opportunity for an analysis of various aspects and issues related to the culture of memory in East Central Europe in the Middle Ages and early modern times. The presentations, papers and lectures prepared by the participants encompassed varied issues related to problems in the culture of memory. Originally, the conference, in intention interdisciplinary and providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and opinions represented by lecturers from different countries, was planned  to last for three days and the papers had been grouped into the following thematic categories: medieval art of memory, memory issues in the Middle Ages in the approach of history researchers and memory issues in the Middle Ages and early modern times in the approach of literary scholars and art historians.

The first day of the conference was devoted to presentations and discussions on technical aspects of the art of memory (ars memorativa). During the opening of the conference Dr Artur Jazdon, the head librarian of Poznań University Library, addressed the participants and, after welcoming them, spoke about the significance of sharing such experiences. Dr Jazdon  welcomed the fact that the event had been responded with such a great interest on the part of so many researchers and scholars from all over the world. The opening paper, entitled Memoria-Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Olmütz  was delivered by Ms Sabine Heimann-Seelbach (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany). The speaker discussed manuscripts containing mnemotechnical treatises, pointing at not only the manuscripts from Olomunec, hitherto unknown to the researchers in the memory of art, but also at the relations of artis memorativae with medieval pedagogical and encyclopedic systems. The next paper, also devoted to manuscripts, was given by Ms Claire Norton (St Mary's University College, Twickenham, Great Britain). Ms Norton’s presentation entitled Re-interpreting the presence of mnemo-technical practices in Ottoman manuscripts in the early modern period dealt with the production, transmission and reception of texts in early modern Ottoman manuscripts. These processes were shown as a slow change in the transition from oral culture to literate culture. Ms Norton’s paper was an interesting contribution and reference to work of such researchers in orality as Walter J. Ong or Michael T. Clanchy. Ms Norton also pointed out that the content of the corpus of 25 manuscripts known as Gazavat-i Tiryaki Hasan PaÂşa had been known to the inhabitants of the borderland between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy in South-East  Europe of the time. The next speaker, Alexandru N. Cizek (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany), in his interesting paper Antike Memoria-Lehre und mittellateinische versus differentiales discussed the dependencies between the classical theory of the art of memory and the so-called versus differentials, a form of poetry so distinctive and representative for the Middle Ages. Mr Cizek supported his argument with the example of the authors and works such as the anonymous Rhetorica ad Herennium, rhetoric texts of Cicero, Quintilian, glosses to Doctrinale by Alexander de Villa Dei, Latin medieval proverbs, Grecismus and  Novus Grecismus, Richard Pluto’s Equivoca or Frowin’s Antigameratus. In the following paper entitled Remembering the Gospels in the Later Middle Ages Greti Dinkova-Bruun (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, Canada) discussed three mnemotechnical poems: Summarium Biblicum attributed to Alexander de Villa Dei (d. 1240), Margarita by Guido Vincentinus (d. 1332) and  the anonymous Capitula evangeliorum versifice scripta written probably in the fourteenth century. Ms. Dinkova-Bruun presented the poems against the background of the medieval rules and principles of poetry composition (Petrus de Riga, Leonius de Parisiis, Petrus Episcopus and Matthew of Vendôme) focusing on their mnemotechnical aspect. The last presentation in the morning session was delivered by Krzysztof Bracha (Institute of History, Akademia Świętokrzyska, Kielce, Poland),  Gedächtnis in der Werkstatt des mittelalterlichen Predigers. Mr Bracha, the author of a brilliant book on the collection of sermons by Piotr of Miłosław, discussed the significance of different kinds of expression measures at the disposal of the medieval preacher. Various mnemotechnical measures and physical objects as well as church equipment to serve as teaching aids during sermon deliveries were given as examples.

The afternoon session was started with Mieczysław Mejor’s paper (Institute of Literary Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warszawa, Poland) Mittelalterliche ars versificandi und ars memorativa. Einige Beispiele. Mr Mejor’s presentation was an excellent  follow-up paper to the earlier paper given by Alexandru Cizek as it presented not only issues concerning versus differentiales, but primarily versus memoriales, thus the two papers were ideally complementing each other. The next speaker, Benedek Láng (BUTE, Department of Philosophy and History of Science, Budapest, Hungary) in his paper Art of memory and magic (Ars memorativa and Ars notoria) discussed an interesting problem of mutual dependencies and similarities in two, seemingly totally different domains of medieval science and the humanities, namely the art of memory and magic. Mr Lang proved that an in-depth study on the problem showed close relationships between the ways magic, especially in the case of the so-called ars notoria and ars memorativa, was taught. With the example of Thomas Murner and his textbook for logic learning with the help of cards (Logica memorativa, chartiludium logice, sive totius dialectice memoria from 1509), he recalled that the lecturers in the art of memory had had to face accusations, in cases heard in trail courts, of using magic as it had happened to be a case in the town of Cracow at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The next speaker, Lucie Dolezalová (Center for Theoretical Studies, Prague, The Czech Republic) in her interesting paper Matous Beran and the Culture of Memory in Late Medieval Bohemia: A Case Study presented a hitherto unknown mnemotechnical treatise by Matous Beran. She  outlined the image of the author and discussed his treatise against the background of the methods then employed in teaching the art of memory in Europe referring to the research output of Ms. Heimann-Seelbach from her exemplary monograph on mnemotechnical treatises of the fifteenth century (Ars und scientia. Genese, Überlieferung und Funktionen der mnemotechnischen Traktatliteratur im 15. Jahrhundert. Mit Edition und Untersuchung dreier deutscher Traktate und ihrer lateinischen Vorlagen. Tübingen 2000).

Gábor Farkas Kiss (Department of Philology of Old Hungarian Literature, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary) in his presentation entitled Rewriting the memory of Conrad Celtis. The case of Valentinus de Monteviridi discussed in detail the dependencies between the short mnemotechnical treatise by Valentinus de Monte Viridi and the mnemotechnical minor composition by Konrad Celtis. Valentinus de Monte Viridi, a student of Cracow Uniwersity and then a canon at Vác, the author of many predictions written at the turn of the fifteenth and the sixteenth century, was also the author of a short excerpt for novices in the art of memory. The only copy of the treatise in question is currently housed at the Library of National Ossoliński Institute in Wrocław. The last speaker of the evening session was Rafał Wójcik (Poznań University Library, Poznań, Poland) with his paper Jakub Parkoszowic's Polish mnemonic verse about Polish orthography from the 15th century. Rafał Wójcik recalled the spelling convention proposed by a canon from Cracow, putting special attention to the final alphabetical juxtaposition of the words used in Parkosz’s work. The speaker, referring to the studies conducted by Wacław Mareš, Leszek Moszyński and Wiesław Wydra, proved that this juxtaposition was in fact a mnemotechnical poem and pointed at the similarity and relationships with the Eastern tradition of the systematization of the letters of the alphabet.

The first day of the conference was complemented with a guided tour over the Bishops’ Palace and the collection of Masonic material housed at the Palace. The participants of the conference were introduced to the collection by Andrzej Karpowicz, the keeper and curator of the Masonic collection of Poznań University Library.

The second day of the conference, grouping primarily presentations devoted to the problems and issues in the art of memory in historical and literary research, began with a trip to a nearby village of Ląd on the Warta and with a guided tour over the Cistercian Abbey, currently a higher seminary of the Society of St. Francis de Sales.

The first speaker to deliver his presentation after the return from the trip was Witold Wojtowicz (Institute of Polish Philology, Szczecin University, Poland) with Memoria und Mnemotechnik in "Chronica Polonorum" von Vincentius. The speaker presented two important aspects hitherto not investigated within the context of the work of the Polish chronicler. Firstly, Wojtowicz discussed memory of the dead, which occupies a significant place in the work’s content being not only a religious phenomenon of a bond between the world of the living with that of the dead, but he also pointed at the fact that it was a particular political legitimization of those in power. Secondly, the paper presented the relationships of the Chronica by Master Vincentus with the then mnemotechnical theory and, first of all, with the works of  Hugh of St Victor. The next speaker, Ryszard Grzesik (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warszawa/Poznań, Poland) in his paper Did Two Models of the Memory about the Domestic Origins Exist in the Hungarian Medieval Chronicles? discussed two different traditions (Gesta Hungarorum and Polish and Hungarian chronicles) that dealt with the origins of the Hungarian statehood and the memory of these events. The following paper entitled  Visualizing German History in the Czech Lands: Memory and Ethnic Community in Late Medieval Bohemia presented by Seth Adam Hindin (Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA) discussed two fourteenth century visual “places of memory” of local German-speaking communities in medieval Bohemia. (Prague and Bruenn) with the examples of the Church of the Virgin Mary Before Tyn (Kostel Panny Marie pred Tynem), rebuilt in 1350, and the Primary Book of Law from Bruenn. The next paper,  Historical conscience in the Annales Posonienses and in the historical notes of the Pray Codex and their place in Hungarian medieval historiography was delivered by Adrien Quéret-Podesta (Centre d’Histoire des Espaces et Cultures, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France). The speaker focused on the annals from Pressburg (Bratislava) and analyzed the work within the approach of the vision of history represented by the main author of Annales Posonienses and the author of its minor continuation and showed the influence of the annals upon the later fourteenth-century Hungarian chronicles. In addition, the speaker gave a brief commentary to the history of the editorial work on Annalium. The following paper presented by Balázs Nagy (Department of Medieval Studies Central European University, Budapest, Hungary) and entitled Memories of the Self: The "Autobiography" of Charles IV in Search of Medieval Memories discussed a particularly interesting contribution to medieval memoirs. Mr Nagy recalled and discussed thoroughly the autobiographical writings of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, pointing at the fact that it had been extremely rare in the Middle Ages for an author to write down subjective, individual and singular autobiographical memory and the account of history. The paper given by Krzysztof Ratajczak (Zakład Historii Wychowania, UAM, Poznań, Polska) The Dynastic memory and the role of historical books in the education of the Piasts from the 10th to the 14th centuries, based on Polish medieval sources, discussed the role of the book and the oral transmission in dissemination and maintaining the memory of the past of the first Polish dynasty in the educational process employed by teachers of the members of the royal Piast family from the tenth century to the fourteenth century. The speaker pointed at the relationships between the dynasty memory of historical, political and family events and the way some sections of this stories as well as exempla had been used in the educational process aimed at future generations of dukes and kings and, additionally, discussed the problem how and in what way some facts that had been functioning earlier only in oral transmission had been written down and fossilized on the pages of the manuscripts. The session was finished with the paper delivered by László Tapolcai (Department of the History of Eastern Europe, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary) Changes of the figure of Piast, the protoplasta of the first Polish dynasty, in the historical tradition from Gallus Anonymus to Marcin Bielski, in which he discussed the changes of the image of the legendary progenitor of Polish royal family in chronicles and annals from the chronicle of Gallus Anonymus to Kronika polska by Marcin Bielski. Tapolcai analyzed those relevant historical, social, cultural and religious processes that could have influenced the changes in the way Piast was presented.

The third day of the conference began with Michael Schulte’s (Department of Language and Literature, Volda University College, Volda, Norwegia) paper Memory culture in the Viking Age. The runic evidence. Schulte focused on discussing the expressions  included in early runic inscriptions that purposefully had been inscribed in older runes with the so-called older futhark. The speaker presented a much-debated and controversial thesis that a vast array of mnemotechnical measures and methods had preceded the “runic culture” and writing.  Jolanta Rzegocka (Tischner European University, Kraków, Poland) presented the paper Mnemotechnical Strategies at Play: Early Modern Polish Theatre and Its Manuscripts. Jolanta Rzegocka discussed those dramatical elements and stage directions pertaining to the text that had been crucial and essential in the communication and memorization process. Additionally, the speaker pointed at the fact that mnemotechnical measures that had been used with memorization of performances could be an excellent source of information for researches on the nature and character of early stage productions and on the presence of the culture of memory within a given area. The next paper entitled "Ich (...) habe diese Figur, als ich zu Konstantinopel gesehen habe, meinem lieben Bruder (...) zum freundlichen Gedächtnis malen gelassen". Erinnerungen aus der Reise in die Türkei in den ältesten Stammbüchern aus dem deutschen Umkreis was presented by Alicja Borys (Manuscript Section, Wrocław University Library, Wrocław, Poland). Ms. Borys discussed the earliest albums completed during various journeys to Turkey that originated within the German-speaking cultural circles in the sixteenth century. The speaker presented the sample albums as an endless source of information for those doing research in the art of memory in the period.

The session was closed with yet another paper given by Rafał Prinke (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego, Poznań, Poland) Memory in the Lodge. A Late 18th c. Freemasonry Mnemonic Aid. After a brief introduction to the history of freemasonry and its rites, Mr Prinke discussed an eighteenth-century textbook, a mnemotechnical device excellent for candidates to be admitted to Freemasonry, aimed at facilitating memorization of words and gestures used in the rites and ceremonies of the initiation and the taking of Masonic oath. The final topics of discussion dealt with the problem of memory in the history of art. Jeannie J. Łabno (The Centre for Continuing Education and the History of Art Department, The University of Sussex, Wielka Brytania) in her paper Remembering the Polish Renaissance Child - in memoria discussed Renaissance sculptures and grave inscriptions in Poland that presented the symbolic meaning of the deceased child’s life to the parent. The next speaker, Snezana Filipova (Department of Art History and Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Skopje, Macedonia), in her paper Paintings in Macedonian Churches as Document and Echoe of the Heraldic Society presented frescoes and objects that had preserved for the future generations the memory of heraldic symbols of the ruling families, especially those of Serb origins.

Two would-be participants of the conference did not make it to the conference site and failed to turn up, but sent their papers instead. The organizers had them printed and distributed among the participants of the conference. Marina Miladinov (Faculty of Theology, "Matthias Flacius Illyricus", Zagreb, Croatia) sent her paper entitled Resisting the "Errors of Roman Baal" - Matthias Flacius Illyricus and His Guidelines for Writing a Church History, while Kateøina Horníèková (Cultural Department, Prague Castle, Prague, the Czech Republic) sent the paper Memory in Things. Bishop Phillibert of Coutance’s Catholic restoration in Hussite Prague.

The event was summarized in recap and conclusions given by Gábor Farkas Kiss. Mr Kiss commented on the papers presented by the participants and noticed that all of them had been well received and their variety appreciated and provoked an animated and lively discussion. The farewell address was given by Dr Zbigniew Sławiński, senior sub-librarian of Poznań University Library, who thanked the participants for their rich and useful contributions. The papers presented at the conference will soon be published in a conference proceedings to be edited and prepared by Poznań University Library.


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