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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Event Archive

Playing with the Emotions in Jesuit Latin Poetry

19th March 2014, 17:30, Pemberton Lecture Room, PG21, Professor Yasmin Haskell

to be followed by a drinks reception at the Birley Room in Hatfield College.

This event is free and open to all, but attendees are asked to book a place at: https://www.dur.ac.uk/conference.booking/details/?id=303

Abstract: The early modern Jesuits were masters of emotion – theorising, rousing, regulating, and performing both secular and passions in the service of Catholic Reformation devotion and conversion. In this lecture I shall explore the ‘playful’ treatment of emotion in the Latin poetry that was so assiduously composed by priests and students of the Society of Jesus for over two centuries. This element of playfulness (and play-fulness), I shall argue, was born in the Jesuit classroom, and served not just the educational but also the spiritual and corporate ends of the Society. My ultimate focus will be two eighteenth-century, elegiac didactic poems on ‘friendship’, produced in honour of the new philosophy graduates at the Jesuit colleges of Kluj (Klausenberg) and Vienna. Both but especially the Romanian poem are playfully Ovidian in style. Authorship has been variously and confusedly attributed to the Transylvanian Jesuit, Stephanus Biro, to Antonius Vorster (professor of Rhetoric at Vienna), and even to the French Jesuit, Pierre Bimet, but the prefaces of both works describe a collective project on the part of the pupils of the Poetry and Rhetoric classes in their respective colleges. In fact, the Viennese poem was offered in two instalments, in 1738 and 1739, as the fruit of two successive years’ labour by the same student cohort. I suggest it is reasonable to conclude that these poems were indeed composed by schoolboys in the emulative and yet collaborative context of the Jesuit classroom. What do they tell us, in general, about Jesuit use of the emotions in the classroom (and beyond), and more specifically, about Jesuit policy on ‘special friendships’ in this period?

Professor Yasmin Haskell, FAHA, currently holds the Cassamarca Foundation Chair in Latin Humanism in Perth, WA. She is one of 10 Chief Investigators in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions in Europe: 1100-1800, leading projects on 'Jesuit Emotions' and 'Passions for Learning'. Yasmin has recently held visiting fellowships at All Souls and Christ Church Colleges, Oxford, and since October 2013 has been Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge. She is the author of *Loyola's Bees: Ideology and Industry in Jesuit Latin Didactic Poetry* (Oxford: Oxford University Press and British Academy, 2003) and *Prescribing Ovid: The Latin Works and Networks of the Enlightened Dr Heerkens* (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). She has also edited, with Philip Hardie, *Poets and Teachers: Latin Didactic Poetry and the Didactic Authority of the Latin Poet from the Renaissance to the Present (Bari: Levante, 1999); with Juanita Ruys, *Latinity and Alterity in the Early Modern Period* (Tempe, AZ and Turnhout: MRTS and Brepols, 2010); and *Diseases of the Imagination in the Early Modern Period* (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011).

Contact admin.imems@durgam.ac.uk for more information about this event.