Working Groups

Medieval Classroom

Each year the Medieval Institute sponsors Working Groups, an opportunity for faculty fellows and graduate students to investigate a topic relating to shared research interests.

Current Working Groups

Ancient and Medieval Theories of the Image

Faculty: Thérèse Scarpelli Cory; Jennie Grillo; Robin Jensen; Wiebke-Marie Stock; Graduate Students: Kelsi Ray; Carlos Diego Arenas Pacheco

Part of the Catholic intellectual tradition is a long thread of reflection about the making of images, particularly religious images. From  Biblical  and  Platonic  roots  through  the  great iconoclast controversies and the upheavals of the Reformations to the age of mechanical reproduction, the problematics of the image—and particularly of the religious image—have been articulated across different discourses and in dialogue with artistic production. This working group takes a step back from the current debates and returns to the philosophical and theological sources of late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, combining the perspectives of theologians, philosophers and art historians to gain a fuller understanding of the notion of the image and of images.

Christianity and Philosophy in Late Antiquity

Faculty: Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, Gretchen Reydams-Schils; Graduate Students: Kirsten Anderson, Grant Gasse

A perennial topic in the study of late ancient Christianity is the relationship between properly Christian literature and mainstream (i.e. non-Christian) Greek philosophy. It is widely acknowledged that without a thorough grasp of ancient and late ancient philosophy, one cannot fully understand authors like Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine of Hippo, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and Maximus the Confessor — not to mention Christians like Boethius and John Philoponus who were philosophical authors in their own right. Philosophy formed more than merely these authors’ “context”; it was, or at least often was, the mode in which they wrote. To read them well is to take seriously the philosophical character of their argumentation, at least in those texts where this is appropriate. Although countless scholars have discussed Christianity’s relation to philosophy, the question has often been pursued strictly within the parameters of one or another of the modern disciplines. The Medieval Institute is uniquely well-equipped to promote the study of Christian philosophy in late antiquity in a truly interdisciplinary manner. The cohort of Faculty Fellows includes many scholars with expertise in either patristic literature or ancient philosophy or both, and numerous graduate students in the MI and other humanities programs are interested in the topic.

Medieval Liturgy

Faculty: Katie Bugyis, Margot Fassler, Nina Glibetic, Peter Jeffrey, CJ Jones, Gabriel Radle, Julia Schneider; Graduate Students: Eleonora Celora, Spencer Arrowood

The Medieval Liturgy Working Group is dedicated to interdisciplinary scholarship on liturgy across the long Middle Ages, in diverse traditions of both East and West. Notre Dame has one of the largest representations of scholars dedicated to research on medieval liturgy, spread across at least six different departments and programs at the university. Our Medieval Institute working group brings these and other faculty, researchers, and graduate students together in order to share work in progress, advance methodological reflections on the discipline, and increase visibility and interdisciplinarity for liturgical studies at Notre Dame and in the broader academy.

Religion and Pluralism in the Medieval Mediterranean

Faculty: Thomas Burman, Jessalynn Bird, Deborah Tor, Alexander Beihammer, Hussein Abdusater, Li Guo, Mahan Mirza, Ebrahim Moosa, Catherine Bronson, Robin Jensen, Alexis Torrance, Gabriel Radle, and Nina Glibetic; Graduate Students: Catherine Perl, Romain Thurin, Spencer Hunt, Eileen Morgan, Jake Kildoo, Anthony Gaspar, Hüsamettin Simsir, Mihow McKenny, Marven Corrielus, Francisco Cintron, Eric Devilliers, Joseph Baxley, and Edith Legarde

The working group will explore questions pertaining to the study of religions, religious interactions, the formation of identity and community, and the state of the fields of religion, literature, and history in the medieval Mediterranean. Our group will continue to invite participants to consider the ways in which the medieval Mediterranean world was shaped by religious pluralism and the interaction of religions (principally Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and how that reality is reflected in contemporary scholarship. Through this working group, participants will continue to appreciate contemporary scholarship on various aspects of the medieval Mediterranean across a wide range of disciplines.

The Transformation of Classical Texts in the Middle Ages

Faculty: W. Martin Bloomer, David Gura, Hildegund Müller, Julia Schneider, Stephen Metzger; Graduate Students: Kelsi Ray, Carlos Arenas Pacheco, Emily Mahan

This MI working group studies how the texts of pagan sapientia are accommodated to, become vehicles for, help articulate, and modify Christian ideas, institutions, and doctrine­. We are working on both the practical level of the individual text and manuscript and at a more theoretical level. We focus mainly on the commentary tradition of the Disticha Catonis, a very important text with a long and varied history in the Middle Ages, with the hope of understanding not simply allegorizing practices but, more deeply, how sapientia is reframed in a Christianizing mode. We are also considering the theoretical and methodological issues involved in recuperating modes of reading and recomposition and in determining how an object or idea from a foreign religion is accommodated to the mainstream religion.

Submitting a Proposal

The Working Group deadline for 2020–21 has passed. Please check back in spring 2021 for the next cycle, and review the Proposal and Submission Instructions to prepare and submit an application.  

Guidelines for Working Groups

Approved groups will want to review the Guidelines for Working Groups so they are familiar with the necessary steps for planning their events and running their groups.