Learning as shared practice: New postdoc project by Micol Long


The Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies welcomes Dr Micol Long who is starting her post-doctoral project with the research group Religion and Society in the Early and Central Middle Ages this week. The project is funded by the FWO.

Learning as shared practice. Towards a new understanding of education in monastic communities of the High Middle Ages.

The project aims to re-evaluate education in monastic contexts of 11th-12th century Western Europe by relying on the concept of “communities of practice”.

So far, historical scholarship has approached education in monasticism of this period as a process involving the individual acquisition of a written body of knowledge with the aid of a teacher or expert, even when contemporary sources indicate that the shaping of monks’ social, religious and intellectual identity was in fact a dialectical process, involving mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas.

This research project will therefore argue that in these contexts the focus was not on the individual acquisition of knowledge, but rather on individuals’ participation in a “community of learning”, where active social participation in the processing of knowledge, beliefs and attitudes constituted the vehicle for learning itself.

Relying on a comparative analysis of the preserved monastic correspondence, the researcher will verify this  hypothesis by addressing, in accounts of monastic learning, three distinct aspects:

a) the contents of learning,

b) its personal, communal and physical context, and

c) actors' perception of the learning process and of how this shaped of individual and communal identities. This will allow a fundamental reassessment of education in monastic communities and of the dynamics between the actors involved in the cultural (literary, intellectual, spiritual, etc.) life of these highly learned environments.

Micol Long on academia.edu

Contact Micol Long

More information about the RESOMA research group