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But each case demonstrates a particular employment of architecture, texts, music and images in the service of withdrawal and engagement respectively. At La Trappe the liturgical life and the furnishing of the abbey church made manifest the appropriation of desert asceticism as well as the Cistercian origin.

Journal of Early Modern Christianity

Lees the ethos of isolation and devotional self-surrender was conveyed beyond the walls by means of treatises, letters, images and the reception of visitors. At St Cyr noble girls were taught to renounce the world.

Three paintings produced for the royal institution embody this aspiration in a particularly illuminating way. In the two cases related to Halle, the juxtaposition of theological texts and concepts such as Gelassenheitmusico-poetical culture as well as material and visual expressions of the Pietist reform movement and the employment of the eagle motif contributes to a multi-faceted understanding of the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement and the relation between the withdrawn locus and the society in which it was set.

The research project Solitudes: Withdrawal and Engagement in the long Oes Century SOLITUDES 1 examines ten locations — five German or Danish Protestant and five French Catholic — and the means by which, in each of these places, withdrawal from the world is represented, prompted and sustained by means of works of art, texts, architecture, music and artefacts. The examination of the relation between withdrawal and engagement touches on several central theoretical discussions.

SOLITUDES is inspired, not least, by theoretical perspectives pertaining to notions of the self, rhetorical codes, social discipline and the function and power of art. Studies of such linguistic devices help to highlight the different modes in which the existential and social demarcations pertaining to withdrawal and engagement are displayed. In other words there is no unifying picture of withdrawal, its meanings or merits. As a social praxis withdrawal is a contested notion; it is always embedded in, and open to, different levels of voxi in which problems of a fundamentally social character are posed.

The dynamic between withdrawal and engagement comes to the fore in a wide array of media and genres.

Music, works of art, architecture and other cultural artefacts are no mere staffage to historical narratives or theological disquisitions. Instead they are treated as integral and directional phenomena. As products as well as producers of culture, visual art, architecture and music at once reflect and sustain devotional practices. Mapping such networks helps to identify the actors involved and to clarify the effects of the agency exercised on and by viewers and participants in a given art nexus.

An analysis of the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement calls for an integrated cross-disciplinary approach. Rather than engaging in specialized scrutiny of, say, the technical characteristics of the music produced at a particular place, we look at the ways in which music prompts withdrawal from the world, how it plays into the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement and, finally, how it interacts with images, architecture, practices and texts.

We study selected physical locations in a particular period and search for distinct topoi and motifs which are cultivated in each of those locations. These choices are informed by extensive studies as well as exchanges with other scholars.

The aim is not primarily to unearth hitherto unknown material, but to gain new insights by way of the merger between a specific interrogatory horizon and an integrated cross-disciplinary approach.

It is the bold hypothesis here that this novel interrogatory horizon does, indeed, yield new insight and help us reach a nuanced understanding partly of the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement, partly of the catalytic role, religiously, politically and aesthetically, which this tension played in Early Modern European culture. How to approach in an adequate way the different religious cultures that emerged after the reformations and their individual appropriations of central Christian themes?


Rather than seeking concrete links or differences between confessional cultures, the project analyses the societal conditions and religious configurations that shape the particular devotional profile of each place and motivate its specific version of the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement.

It is too early yet to make any strong claims as to confessional particularities. The hope is that these interdisciplinary case studies of particular places will pave the way for cross-confessional insights and for a bridge between longstanding academic compartments.

A nuanced view on the religious cultures on each side of, and across, the Early Modern confessional gap requires an approach which can capture the devotional specificity in its particular historical context. Downscaling underpins such an approach. Another entry into an informed comparison is the pursuit across the places chosen of particular topoi or tropes, normative discourses or texts which retrieve biblical, theological or philosophical traditions.

The ambition has been to demonstrate the mechanisms of our interdisciplinary method through case studies from four of our ten places. This is work in progress. The four sections show various ways in which we approach the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement.

Each section has been crafted in a close collaboration between the members of the research team. One scholar has had the overall charge of the section, while perspectives pertaining to art, architecture and music have been the responsibility of disciplinary specialists in the team.

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These four cases share key concerns. It is unsurprising that all cases show some version of the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement. If we move one step further, it appears that all four offer instances of individual transition or conversion as well as institutional reform: The cases also bring to the fore a particular interest in withdrawal as a means of discipline as well as in discipline as a means of withdrawal.

Furthermore in all four cases artistic media are employed to wield power over emotions and devotion; the media become instruments for the attaining or prompting of a particular affective state of mind.

In all cases, simplicity is evoked ballad the desired aesthetic corollary of withdrawal. Jg. case also involves biblical interpretation; teemps Scriptures offer guidelines and, not least, strong models of being in the world, but not of the world. The desire for God is one of the more pressing urges behind the devotional practices studied in the project, and the reappropriation of the Song of Songs looms large. Finally the role of place is significant in each of the cases: This list of key words has grown out of the work with the material.

Reading across ballarf four cases with these concepts in mind will show how they are, at once, shared features and features which find distinct, individual forms, depending on the place and on its particular variant of withdrawal and engagement.

Each of these key concepts represents a rich historical conceptual universe and a field of research in boix own right. Thus the four case studies do not only throw light on withdrawal and engagement; they also contribute to the study of seventeenth-century instances of simplicity, love of God, biblical hermeneutics, the role of place and so forth.

At this stage dh the work such cross-connections are registered rather than foregrounded.

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But it is worthwhile to keep these key concepts in mind and to pay heed to j.f different accentuations and appearances as we pursue the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement across four selected cases. In two new chapels were built behind the chancel of the abbey church at La Trappe. He saw a close relationship between musical form and theological content.

Led liturgy embodies the spirit of a religious institution; change of form means change of content and deviation from the original spirit. The new chapel of Saints Zosimas and Mary of Egypt no.

Commentators saw it as an m.g of his return to the original Cistercian devotion to the virgin when he fitted out the high altar of La Trappe with a new statue of the virgin and child. Georges explains their posture: The caption explains how the pristine art, architecture and music harmoniously contribute to the same goal: He commissioned an altarpiece of Mary of Egypt receiving communion from the monk Zosimas.


Zosimas had lived in dy Palestinian monastery for some fifty years.

He was close to perfection and began to worry that no one could teach him new ascetic insights. A vision instructed him to go to the river Jordan. There he met Mary, who had lived in the desert for forty-seven years, naked and scorched by the sun. Hers was a story of untrammelled lust transformed into boundless penitence.

Next year he returned and offered her Communion. After yet another year he came back only to find her dead. Words written in the sand explained that she had passed away shortly after her Communion.

Zosimas buried her with the help of a lion and returned to his monastery, marvelling at the saintly penitent. Depictions of Mary of Egypt receiving her last Communion baloard not common in seventeenth-century France; 29 a rare example is an ballsrd in Notre-Dame de Paris by Lubin Baugin, the composition of which survives in an engraving from the s Figure 3.

In order to begin to grasp the multi-medial field of tension generated in the chapel, we must bear in mind the threefold function of the altarpiece. Firstly, art contributes liturgically twmps a worthy setting for the sacrifice of the Mass: Secondly, it corroborates, devotionally, intercession for the supplicant through prayer to tutelary saints.

But it teaches in a wider sense, since the religious work of art also facilitates a relationship with a divine prototype 32 through what may be described as transformative agency.

Count de Ballarv oscillated for a while between La Trappe and the world. Once during a visit he saw the corpse of a monk, a former Captain of Infantry, on a bier in the abbey church. Struck by the transfigured beauty of his former comrade in arms, the Count withdrew to the chapel. The chapel of Mary of Egypt offers a double model. Mary, however, is beyond disciplinary structures. She is absorbed in self-surrendering penitence and love of God.

The representation of Mary, in image, text and chant, chimes in with the love of God which this discipline aims to foster in each individual monk.

By La Trappe had become a well-known epitome of solitude. Letters were not the only medium of engagement with society. Each year the abbey received hundreds of visitors.

But the reception of visitors was also required by vojx. Soon visits were not only allowed, but orchestrated in minute detail. Signboards on the walls instructed guests not to speak to the monks.

Visitors were to be received with the utmost hospitality and it must never appear to them that their presence was a burden. Some were widely disseminated and allowed a larger audience, including women, a virtual tour of the abbey. The abbot exchanged some hundred letters with her.

She stayed in a lodge immediately outside the walls. Through her patronage of the composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier she supported a religious music the more worldly orientation of which was quite different from the ascetic and tradition-orientated Trappist sensibilities and their predilection for simplicity.

His was an existence in constant tension between radical isolation from the world and emulation of the desert fathers on the one hand, and on the other lively conversation with outside society viix the aim of disseminating the spirit of solitude. This meant exposing the monastic enclosure to imprints from the outside.

These imprints ranged from the alterations made to the site so as to better accommodate visitors to votive gifts such as the Guise portrait.

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j.g At the same time both pictures are firmly situated within a single universe which revolves around vooix, saintly emulation, discipline, prayer and love of God.

Prayer pertains to the monk in his solitude, but it is also the core of the monastic obligation to the world. In this duality it is at the heart of the dynamic between withdrawal and engagement. The Trappist veneration of Mary of Egypt falls into this liturgical context. They celebrate Mary in a catalogue of key motifs.