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The Passions in the Early Modern Period
Wolfenbüttel, April 2003

The Passions in the Early Modern Period
11th Tri-annual meeting of the Wolfenbütteler Arbeitskreises für
Barockforschung  Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
2nd to 5th April 2003

Organising Committee
Conference chair: Johann Anselm Steiger (Hamburg)
Co-organizers: Barbara Bauer (Bern), Guillaume van Gemert
(Nijmegen), Carsten-Peter Warncke (Göttingen)

Conference Description

Wolfenbüttel Baroque Conferences have always aimed to promote the study of Early
Modern topics by encouraging cross-disciplinary discussion in historical fields.
At the 2003 conference scholars in cultural and literary history, historical
theology, music history, medical history, art history and the history of science
will be given an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary discussion on the
connections between suffering, emotion and passion.

One of the major themes will be the treatment of the Passion of Christ in sacred
poetry, in sermons, in rhetorica sacra, devotions, songs and hymns, emblems, and
the tradition of the Baroque Passion, both before and after J.S. Bach. A focus of
interest will be the common and specific features of the arousal of "affectus
fidei" (compassion/grief, hope/joy etc.) within the multimedia characteristic of
the era - i.e. through the medium of language, via rhetoric, homiletics, and
poetic strategies as well as in the use of new methods of hermeneutics in music.
The increase in exchange between scholars of literature, historical theology and
music over the past decade will certainly facilitate this discussion.

In addition we shall be focussing on the stimulation of emotions and the role of
passion in the pictorial media, in art, in school and court drama, and opera,
broadening the scope to a European dimension including French and Italian sources
and their intercultural influences. Court festivities will be of particular
interest here. The aim will be to channel new insights from recent research and to
focus on the following questions: was it considered particularly desirable in
analogy to the stylistic ideal of argutia to find a special and individual mode of
expressing feelings? And vice-versa does the stylistic ideal of brevitas
correspond to the neo-stoical ideal of dissimulatio of emotions? Are there
indications which show that there was a positive evaluation and a cultivation of
emotions during the Baroque era or do techniques of sublimation predominate for
emotions considered potentially uncontrollable? How do societies and institutions
cope with emotions and how is the cultivation of emotions portrayed in the various
arts? What levels of style correspond with what moods? How are levels of style
mixed in order to evoke certain moods and emotions? What themes are associated
with which emotions? How do theme, content and artistic execution relate to one
another? As in the first section, particular attention will be paid to the
connection between picture and imagination, depiction and performance, imagination
and reception.

Beyond this, and underlying all other thematic concerns, we want to highlight the
philosophical, aesthetic, medical, and scientific treatment of the topic of
"emotion and passion". How did science and the arts react to signs of changes in
modes of expression of emotions? How were the physiology of the emotions and the
interaction between the senses and the brain described in the early modern
physiology of the senses and in theories of sense perception? What gender
attributions were employed? On which anthropological-philosophical and medical
premises are early modern theories of style, art and music based?

Despite the diversity of its themes the main aim of the conference is to focus on
unknown or little-used sources and to encourage innovative aspects of enquiry
which will forge trans-disciplinary links in the study of Baroque culture and
highlight both its many perspectives and its international nature.

The following thematic sessions have been planned. It is hoped to solicit papers
on the relationship between theory and practice in rhetoric, poetics, the
physiology of the senses, psychology, medicine, etc. which will be spread over all
four sessions and provide an extra link between the four main themes.  Session I
The passions in theology, sermons, rhetoric, devotions and sacred poetry. Session
II The musical Passion tradition of the Baroque. Session III The passions in
theatre, opera, ballet and festival culture. Session IV The passions: theoretical,
historical and gender constructions (examples from the pictorial arts, secular
poetry and literature, architecture etc.)

Call for papers

Previous planning which has already taken place for Sessions I and II means that
our call for papers relates to the following:

1. Sessions III and IV
2. contributions dealing with the underlying historical framework of philosophy,
   psychology, anthropology, physiology, medical history and aesthetics.  Please
   submit a proposal (max. one page A4, with your name, affiliation and your
   probable point of departure to the conference). The deadline is 15th October

Send your proposal to:
Geschäftsstelle des Wolfenbütteler Arbeitskreises für Barockforschung,
Dr. Jill Bepler, Herzog August Bibliothek, Postfach 1364, D-38299
Wolfenbüttel, Germany or by email to: