Symbolic communication and social value systems in pre-modern cultures, 5-20 March 2012
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser (Universität Münster/Germany)5–20 March, 2012 (3 ECTS credits)
This course will provide an introduction to the study of symbolic communication in late medieval and early-modern cultures from the fourteenth to the end of the sixteenth century. The theoretical basis will be the work of the Collaborative Research Centre 496 of the University of Münster (Germany) that has been funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) since 2000. This research centre focuses on how social value systems manifested themselves, were visualised, but also changed by ‘symbolic’ communication over time – as opposed to ‘instrumental’, ‘discursive’, or ‘abstract-conceptual’ forms. Central here are symbolizations of a verbal and visual nature, as well as representational ones, including metaphors, artefacts, and gestures; and complex symbolic sequences of acts like rituals and ceremonies, or works in the fields of literature and the visual arts. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the key terms as well as to the main theoretical and methodological issues of this interdisciplinary field of research, thus providing a context for discussing selected case studies from different disciplines in more detail, mainly from the philologies (with a focus on English philology), history, theology, book history and art history. This course will offer two central examples from the field of book history in focusing on the role of the book as a gift in relation to modern theories of gift-giving, as well as on the symbolic functions of burning and mutilating books in the context of censorship.
Participants are expected to prepare for this seminar through advance reading of a selection of core texts (see the list below) before the first seminar session on 5 March 2012 and should also be ready to get involved in some more reading in the course of the seminar. They are invited to contribute to the discussions in the seminar actively, possibly also with short presentations, if they wish to do so. In the first week (sessions on 5 and 7 March) we will focus on the more theoretical aspects of symbolic communication and social value systems in the form of a general introduction, while we will concentrate on special fields of research in the second week, including gift-giving and censorship. The chosen topics for discussion suggest points of departure and are open to development within the seminar’s main thematic focus. Participants might be interested in developing their own ideas on this field of research in the course of the five sessions and are invited to present them in the seminar. On 19 and 20 March 2012 there will also be an opportunity for all participants to reflect on their individual research interests and projects in the light of the discussions in the seminar in the form of an interview of 20 to 30 minutes. Participating in the interview will be part of the assessment (see below).
Language of instruction: English (some German or French would be useful for the further reading requirements)
Mon 05-3-2012 1600 – 1800 (class)
Wed 07-3-2012 1600 – 1800 (class)
Mon 12-3-2012 1600 – 1800 (class)
Wed 14-3-2012 1600 – 1800 (class)
Fri 16-3-2012 1600 – 1800 (class)
Mon 19-3-2012/Tues 20-3-2012 (interviews; individual times to be announced)
Location: Seminar room Jäntere (Sirkkala campus, Minerva building, 1st floor)
Level: master- and post graduate students
Maximum number of participants: 15 students
Assessment: active participation, advance reading, further readings, interviews (3 ECTS credits)
Registration deadline and procedure: Friday, 17 February 2012 by e-mail to Marika Räsänen at TUCEMEMS (marras[at]utu.fi); when registering, please include the following information in your e-mail
• Your name
• Your e-mail address
• Your level: master or post graduate
• Your major and minor subjects
• Your research interests/current project (e.g. the working title/area of your MA or PhD thesis)
• The languages you are comfortable with in reading academic texts
Further information: Marika Räsänen (marras[at]utu.fi), Matti Peikola (matpei[at]utu.fi)
Literature for Advance Reading
• ca 300 pages (approximately 20 hours’ workload) to prepare oneself for the course
• texts from books or journals not held by Turku libraries will be provided to the participants in pdf.
• literature for further reading to be announced
Althoff, Gerd, "Christian Values and Noble Ideas of Rank and their Consequences on Symbolic Acts." E-Spania, 4 (2007) [http://e-spania.revues.org/4053]
Althoff, Gerd, "The Variability of Rituals in the Middle Ages." In: Medieval Concepts of the Past. Ritual, Memory, Historiography. Ed. Gerd Althoff et.al. Cambridge, 2002, 71-87.
Bell, Catherine, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York, Oxford, 1992 ["Introduction", pp. 3-12, "The Practice of Ritual Theory", pp. 13-17].
Buc, Philippe, "Political Ritual: Medieval and Modern Interpretations". In: Die Aktualität des Mittelalters. Ed. Hans-Werner Goetz. Bochum, 2000, 255-272.
Cohen, Anthony P., The Symbolic Construction of Community. Chichester, London, 1989 [1st ed. 1985] ["Introduction" pp. 11-28]
Firth, Raymond, Symbols Public and Private. London, 1973 ["An Anthropologist’s Reflection on Symbolic Usage", pp. 15-53, "A Question of Terms", pp. 54-91].
Goffman, Erving, Interaction Ritual. Essays in Face-to-Face Behavior. New York, 1967 ["On Face Work", pp. 5-45].
Kertzer, David J., Ritual, Politics and Power. New Haven, London, 1988 ["The Power of Rites", pp. 1-14].
Muir, Edward, Ritual in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, 1997 ["Introduction: The Lure and Danger of Ritual", pp. 1-14].
Rokeach. Milton, The Nature of Human Values. Cambridge, Mass., 1973 ["The Nature of Human Values", pp. 3-25].
Showing Status. Representation of Social Positions in the Later Middle Ages. Ed. Wim Blockmans and Antheun Janse. Turnhout, 1999 [W. Blockmans, "The Feeling of Being Oneself", pp. 1-16].
Stollberg-Rilinger, Barbara, "The Impact of Communication Theory on the Analysis of the Early Modern Statebuilding Process." In: Empowering Interactions. Political Cultures and the Emergence of the State in Europe 1300-1900. Ed. Wim Blockmans et. al. Farnham 2009, 313-318.