The historical research project “Klöster im Hochmittelalter: Innovationslabore europäischer Lebensentwürfe und Ordnungsmodelle” aims to combine basic research with new perspectives in cultural studies. On the basis of an extensive and so far little worked on text corpus, the monastic world of the Middle Ages will be analysed as a forerunner of modernity.
Medieval monasteries developed in the social and religious changes of the 11th to 13th century, combined with more internalized piety, an unprecedented rationality of the way of life. At that time, monastic communities played a major role in shaping European ideas of community building and individualization. They taught Europe the rationality of planning, standardisation, formal procedures, the use of pragmatic writing, the use of symbols, dealing with property and lack of ownership, the division of labour, the allocation of goods and economic efficiency. They successfully tested the rational design of social systems and thus opened the way for European society to new constructions of statehood. They tested the limits of rational knowledge through the technique of scholastic dialectics and transcended them through the individual experiences of mysticism. They taught people an internalized ethics of living and gave them a decisive orientation knowledge in dealing with themselves and others; they interpreted nature, life, and the afterlife programmatically. At that time, in monasteries and religious orders, models of social and cultural change emerged that formed the basis for specific order configurations of European modernism.
The project “Klöster im Hochmittelalter: Innovationslabore europäischer Lebensentwürfe und Ordnungsmodelle” of the Heidelberg and the Saxon Academy aims to explore these foundations of European orders by linking text-oriented basic research with the perspective of cultural studies. Thus, it focuses on one of the basic modules of European cultural history. Essential areas of the material base must first be explored, then identified and documented, historically analyzed and, to a large extent, edited.
The research will concentrate on texts which, on the one hand, sketched out didactic and exemplary configurations of order and meaning within monasteries, and on the other hand fixed them in a didactic and exemplary manner in accordance with statutes and norms, and on which they wanted to present fundamental interpretations of the world and social and political orders with a particularly non-monastic effect. The first field of investigation is supervised by Professor Melville, the second field of investigation is supervised by Professor Schneidmüller and Professor Weinfurter.