Workshop: Reasoning to Believe

Epideictic Rhetoric and the Medieval & Early Modern Sermon


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On September 11 last John O’Malley, Jesuit and historian, died relatively unexpected at the age of 95, mourned by his many friends and admirers after an extraordinary career. That career had been triggered by the publication of his study of rhetoric in papal Rome, Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome; Rhetoric, Doctrine and Reform in the Sacred Orators of the Papal Court, c. 1450-1521 in 1979.

O’Malley’s book not merely put epideictic rhetoric as practised in the early modern papal court centre stage for the first time and alerted students to the crucial impact of rhetoric on curial practice. It also paved the way for an assessment of the changing role of eulogizing sermons in early modern liturgy, and helped charting the impact of rhetoric on Renaissance theology. By increasing the scholarly awareness of the fundamental importance of rhetoric for thought, culture and politics in the period he studied, the publication of Praise and Blame set the stage for renewed and invigorated scholarly attention.

To review the development of scholarship on the issues this book had addressed, the Royal Netherlands Institute had already decided to organize a workshop on epideictic rhetoric in Medieval and Early Modern Sermons at the book’s 40th anniversary in 2019, which was to include a talk by the great man himself on the book he himself thought ‘perhaps his best’, yet the venue was cut short by the COVID measures. Bringing together scholars from different disciplines to discuss the impact of rhetoric on medieval and early modern sermons, that workshop is now materializing at last. It is fitting to open the procedures with a public lecture on O’Malleys seminal Praise and Blame, and introduce a new generation of scholars to the unique brand of humanism O’Malley brought to the study of the early modern period.





Thursday, November 3, 2022

17.00-18.00: Public lecture by David Rijser (Groningen): The Humanism of John O’Malley. Remembering Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome

18.00: Aperitivo


Friday, November 4, 2022

09.30-10.00: Introduction

10.00-11.00: Stratis Papaioannou (Crete): ‘Michael Psellos’ encomium for the monk Ioannes Kroustoulas who read aloud at the Holy Soros’

11.00-12.00: Catrien Santing (Groningen): ‘Graduation sermones for medical students: Praise and good advice by Gentile da Foligno (d. 1345)’

12.00-13.00: Lunch

13.00-14.00: Linda Gale Jones (Barcelona): ‘In praise of the Muslim exhortatory preacher: Self-epideictic in the preaching manual of Ahmad b. Qasim al-Misarimi’

14.00-15.00: Ingrid Rowland (Rome): ‘Tommaso Inghirami on the Passion of Christ’

15.00-15.30: Coffee/Tea

15.30-16.30: Bram van der Velden (Groningen): ‘Melanchthon on the death of Luther’

16.30-17.30: Mary Morressey (Reading): ‘John Donne’s 1617 Accession Day sermon at Paul’s Cross and the politics of panegyric in post-reformation London’

19.00: Dinner


Saturday, November 5, 2022

09.00-10.00: Bart Ramakers (Groningen): ‘With tears of penance: Sin and redemption in Caspar Barlaeus’s Holy Week address’ (Amsterdam, 1641)

10.00-11.00: Leen Spruit (Nijmegen): ‘It’s raining stones: Mario Bignoni’s (OFM, 1601-1660) conceptist preaching at work’

11.00-12.00: Paul Smith (Leiden), “‘Madame se meurt! Madame est morte!”:  Rhetorical strategies in Bossuet’s Oraison funèbre d’Henriette d’Angleterre (1670)’

12.00-13.00: Lunch