MSS Lecture: Burcht Pranger, 'Inside Augustine'

17-05-2017 from 15:00 to 17:00
Ghent, Campus Boekentoren, Faculteitszaal
Tim Noens
Add to my calendar

Medieval Seminar Series Lecture by Burcht Pranger on reading Augustine in confrontation with other authors.

Inside Augustine

For the Medieval Seminar Series Lecture of May, HPIMS works together with the Latin department and hosts a lecture by Burcht Pranger (emeritus professor of the University of Amsterdam). He is an authority in Christian literature of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. His most well-known works are Bernard of Clairvaux and the Shape of Monastic Thought (Brill, 1994), The Artificiality of Christianity (Stanford, 2003) and Eternity’s Ennui (Brill, 2010). Pranger's work is known for presenting early and medieval Christian literature in dialogue with works from different historical periods.

In this lecture, 'Inside Augustine', he will propose a reading of Augustine’s Confessions with the assistance of the notions of absorption and theatricality. The very use of those notions is meant to counterbalance the readings generated by our over-familiarity with Augustinian interiority. By replacing interiority with a concept that is alien to the Augustinian vocabulary, it becomes possible to block easy access to mystical interpretations of the Confessions on the one hand, and to engage in a reassessment of the nature of “confession", on the other. A comparison is also made with the notion of absorption in the visual arts. Just as spectatordom becomes problematic vis-à-vis a painting of which the personae look inward rather than outward, so too the position of the reader of a text of which the confessing creator uninterruptedly addresses his confessee, demands a redefinition of the reader’s role and place in the process.